Training camp goals
1. Figure out who will be running the defense. Gregg Williams, initially hired by coach Jeff Fisher to be the defensive coordinator, was suspended for his role in the New Orleans Saints' pay-for-performance program, but it came before the offseason program began. Fisher says the defense will be a collaborative effort with former coordinators Dave McGinnis (assistant head coach) and Chuck Cecil (secondary) on the staff. In addition, the defense originated with Fisher. During OTAs and minicamp, linebackers coach Blake Williams orchestrated much of the defensive calls, so don't be a surprise if he led the defense on game days. The son of Gregg Williams, 27-year-old Blake has been on his father's staff during previous stops in Washington, Jacksonville and New Orleans and knows the present defense better than anyone.
2. Find out who can be consistent at receiver. There is a lot of competition for spots in the receiving corps, but it's difficult to project starters. There are high hopes for rookies Brian Quick (second round) and Chris Givens (fourth), plus the addition of veteran Steve Smith, who appears recovered from a knee injury that affected his last two seasons. They will be competing against holdovers Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander, Brandon Gibson, Greg Salas and Austin Pettis. Injuries affected this group in 2011 with Amendola (elbow/triceps), Alexander (hamstring) and Salas (broken leg) missing significant time. Pettis was suspended at the end of last season for using a performance enhancing drug; he'll also miss the first two games of the coming season.
Player to watch
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The Rams went out on the proverbial limb when they invested a second-round pick this year (39th overall) on the talented Jenkins, whose off-field issues led to his departure from Florida and eventual landing for one season at North Alabama. During OTAs, he was often with the first unit, so the Rams are counting on him to focus solely on football.
On the hot seat
Quarterback Sam Bradford. Fisher is probably tired of saying that a key consideration in his decision to come to the Rams was the presence of Bradford, the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. Now, Bradford has to live up to that confidence after a dismal 2011, when the offense was never comfortable with coordinator Josh McDaniels' system. In the second half of the season Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain that made him a shell of his 2010 self when he helped the Rams improve to a 7-9 record. With Brian Schottenheimer on board as the new coordinator, Bradford is now digesting his third offense in three seasons, but there are similarities to the system he learned during his rookie season, which he believes will result in success.
Strategy and personnel
Tight end Brody Eldridge was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Eldridge can participate in offseason and preseason practices and games. He can be added to the Rams' active roster on the Monday following the September 30 game against Seattle.
Eldridge was acquired in the offseason after being waived by the Indianapolis Colts. He played in 13 games for the Colts last season, including eight starts, and had nine receptions.
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