Tag:Steve Spagnuolo
Posted on: July 31, 2010 3:01 pm

Could Rams keep Jason Smith at right tackle?

Could the Rams keep last year’s No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith at right tackle instead of moving him to the premium left tackle position? According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, that idea hasn’t been ruled out.

"I don't see why not," head coach Steve Spagnuolo said when asked about the possibility of Smith on the right and rookie Rodger Saffold, the 33rd overall pick, working on the left. "You know, Jason started out that way (at right tackle) last year. Both those guys in my mind right now are interchangeable."

Right now, everyone – Spagnuolo, Smith, Saffold and offensive line coach Steve Loney – is saying the goal is to simply put the five best players on the field. Smith has the nastiness and booming power to be the best right tackle in football. But he also showed improvements in his footwork last season that suggest he can be a premium left tackle. At 306 pounds, he’s built for the left side.

The decision might actually come down to where the athletic 6’4”, 316-pound Saffold feels most comfortable. If you’re of the betting ilk, put your money on Smith playing left tackle, Saffold playing right. But don’t go all-in.

-- Andy Benoit

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Posted on: July 29, 2010 9:29 am

Take me to the other side

Just because we don’t give you enough referee posts around here, let me point you in the direction of this Fox Sports story about how the NFL will move the game’s umpire, the man who sets the ball after each play, to the offensive backfield instead of where he used to line up – about five yards behind the defensive line of scrimmage.

Writes Alex Marvez:

The switch won’t be noticeable to the casual fan, but could affect elements of the game such as hurry-up offenses, play-calling across the middle of the field and how penalties are flagged because of the change in vantage point.

“They’ve adjusted some of the mechanics to cover up for that move,” Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “I trust they know what they’re doing. It’s going to be one of those experiences where time will tell.”

Umpires will now be positioned 12 to 15 yards deep in the offensive backfield parallel to the referee. That will sometimes slow how quickly the ball can be marked for the next snap.

“When the umpire was standing on the defensive side of the ball, the play would pretty much end near him most of the time. Now he’s in chase mode to spot the football,” new NFL Vice President of Officiating Carl Johnson told FOXSports.com during a telephone interview. “The spot will be by committee now.”

On long plays, the umpire, because of sheer position-on-the-field logistics, will be unlikely to spot the ball. It could take some for the other officials on the field to figure out who should be the one to spot the ball in the umpire’s absence. Defenses also could have a greater ability to substitute on defense if it takes a few extra seconds to spot the ball.

The major reason for the move is because, according to Marvez, there were more than 100 collisions between players and umpires last season. From a safety basis – and a flow-of-the-game basis as well – the NFL decided to move the umpire to the other side of the line of scrimmage. This could affect some offenses, who take delight in using the umpire as a pick to help them shrug off a pursuer.

“In a lot of ways, great offensive players have used the umpire to their advantage,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett told the web site. “Sometimes, the umpire flat-out gets in the way. It will be a lot safer for them not to be in the middle of that. If you think about these guys standing there with all this traffic coming at them, it’s a danger zone.”

--Josh Katzowitz

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Category: NFL
Posted on: July 28, 2010 1:11 pm

The Rams really need Steven Jackson to be ready

S. Jackson is expected to be cleared in time for training camp (Getty). Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said Tuesday he expects RB Steven Jackson to be ready to begin training camp Thursday. But Jackson, who underwent surgery in April to repair a herniated disc in his back, still will have to be cleared by a team doctor before he can take the field for the first time since last year.

“He feels great," Spagnuolo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch . "Probably only because it's a back (injury), we'll tread lightly. But I think he'll do most everything."

The Rams probably will take it easy with Jackson in regards to preseason games – not that Jackson plays much in exhibition contests, anyway – but Spagnuolo expects Jackson to be ready to go for the start of the regular season.

Without Jackson, the Rams offense could struggle to produce. Assuming Sam Bradford wins the quarterback job, he’ll be a rookie starting in his first season in the NFL. That likely won’t be a pretty picture. Kenneth Darby and Chris Ogbonnaya, the backups to Jackson at RB, have very little experience, and the receiving corps is not exactly filled with big names.

"We want to get (Jackson) ready,” Spagnuolo said. “He wants to go, and he wants to be ready. And we'll have him ready for the opening game.”

--Josh Katzowitz

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com