Tag:James Butler
Posted on: April 7, 2011 11:38 am
Edited on: April 7, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: St. Louis Rams

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups



The Rams were one of the most surprisingly successful squads in the NFL last season. Coming off a dreadful 1-15 season in 2009 – which netted St. Louis the 2010 No. 1 pick and, naturally, QB Sam Bradford – St. Louis won six more games than it had in 2009 and were a game away from taking home the NFC West division title and a postseason berth, falling instead to the Seahawks in the season finale.

But the biggest news since their loss to Seattle was the hiring of former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. He’ll work closely with Bradfo




Quarterback, new offensive coordinator

While McDaniels helped current Chiefs QB Matt Cassel to a surprisingly good season the year he had to replace Tom Brady – who also got a little bit of McDaniels when he was in New England – and comes to St. Louis with a strong reputation as an offensive coordinator, Bradford will have plenty of work to do. The Rams will forgo the West Coast offense they ran last year and run more of a shotgun, spread-based scheme. This is where an offseason workout schedule would be helpful.



1. Wide Reciever
One of the most impressive accomplishments by Bradford last season was to throw for 3,512 yards to a corps of WRs that screams unknown and unproven (Danny Amendola, you’re our breakout star!!). The team lost Mark Clayton (patellar tendon) and Donnie Avery (ACL) while Danario Alexander missed eight games while undergoing a fifth (!) knee surgery. The acquisition of Randy Moss – if he would have let it happen – would have helped last year, but overall, the Rams really need help in this area.

2. Defensive Line
Surprisingly, the Rams weren’t terrible there last season, and much of that had to do with Fred Robbins and James Hall – who registered double-digit sacks for only the second time in his career at the age of 33. Overall, St. Louis ranked 19th in pass defense and 17th in run defense, and as you probably know, there’s a plethora of defensive linemen in the draft that could get a call from St. Louis (although drafting a WR in the first round makes more sense).

3. Defensive Backs
The Rams released standout SS Oshiomogho Atogwe, a defensive captain last year, because he was due an $8 million roster bonus Feb. 21. As a result, he left for Washington and left a huge hole in the St. Louis secondary. And while the Rams had high hopes in James Butler, he’s been plagued by injury and lost his starting spot. St. Louis probably won’t want to count on him.




The Rams still have plenty of holes to fill, but they also have young standouts on each side of the ball, particularly Bradford and MLB James Laurinaitis. In any other division, you’d say the Rams might struggle a bit and could feel good about themselves if they finish at .500.

But in the weak NFC West, they’ll be one of the favorites to win the division and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

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Posted on: November 13, 2010 11:40 am
 

Week 10 injury news and analysis, part I

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Chiefs at Broncos

Right now, it’s unclear what will happen with Denver LB D.J. Williams, who was charged early Friday morning with a DUI – his second alcohol-related charge since 2005. He didn’t practice Friday, and coach Josh McDaniels expressed disappointment with Williams – who’s been one of the best defenders on the squad this season.

He could play this Sunday, but he’s looking at discipline from the NFL at some point and probably from the Broncos as well. That said, he very well could be out there this weekend. You’ll remember that when Braylon Edwards was charged with DWI in September, he played the very next week.

Kansas City rookie WR Dexter McCluster – who’s missed the past two games with a high ankle sprain – is listed as questionable and will be a gametime decision. He was limited at practice all week, and if he could play Sunday, he’d be a big boon to the Chiefs. Aside from McCluster, OG Brian Waters, S Kendrick Lewis and S Jon McGraw are questionable.

Cowboys at Giants

The big blow for the Giants will be that WR Steve Smith won’t play because of a partially torn pectoral muscle he suffered in Thursday’s practice (luckily for him and his team, it doesn’t appear to be a season-ending injury). His team will miss his production, and Hakeem Nicks will miss Smith’s ability to take some of the opposing secondary’s attention off him. Mario Manningham should get more playing time in place of Smith.

We also could see the return of T Will Beatty, who’s been out since mid-September with a broken foot. This week, he started doing agility and footwork drills for the first time since his surgery, and he’s listed as questionable on the injury report. RB Brandon Jacobs, who missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness, is probable.

For Dallas, CB Terence Newman hasn’t been himself since he hurt his ribs three weeks ago, and he’s been burned for big gains and big touchdowns because he’s having a tough time accelerating. Considering the Cowboys are thin in the secondary, Newman likely will continue to play. He had full participation in practice all week and is probable.

Seahawks at Cardinals

Arizona RB Beanie Wells just cannot seem to get healthy. Once again, he’s listed as questionable this week after missing practices Wednesday and Thursday (he was limited Friday) with continued swelling in his knee. It’s not just the fact he’s hurt. He’s also missing valuable practice time, and that combination does not bode well for him. He played last week, but carried just once for minus-two yards. Until he’s healthy, Tim Hightower will get the bulk of the carries.

DL Darnell Dockett, one of the Cardinals most important defenders, suffered a shoulder stinger in last week’s loss to Minnesota, and he’s questionable. He practiced all week (albeit in a limited fashion), but he seems likely to play. LB Paris Lenon, who aggravated an ankle injury last week, also is questionable to play. But he progressed well this week, and he very well could play as well.

Seattle, once again, could miss first-round pick LT Russell Okung, who’s been battling injuries all season. Now, he’s dealing with an ankle injury, and the Seahawks listed him as questionable to play. Without him, the Seahawks likely will start G Chester Pitts in his place.

Rams at 49ers

Obviously, the big absence for San Francisco is starting QB Alex Smith, who is out with a left shoulder injury. Troy Smith will get the start in his place. Considering he helped lead San Francisco to a big win against the Broncos two weeks ago in London, Troy Smith deserves another shot this week against San Francisco. Plus, as LB Takeo Spikes told me recently in Five Questions (or More), Smith’s presence in the pocket was a comfort to the team.

Of the 11 Rams who are on this week’s injury report, two (WR Danario Alexander and S James Butler) are out, one (TE Fendi Onobun) is doubtful and everybody else is probable.

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