2009 NFL Preview: #31 St. Louis Rams

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Offseason Additions: Jason Brown (C); James Butler (CB); Kyle Boller (QB); Billy Bajema (TE).

Offseason Losses: Torry Holt (WR); Orlando Pace (OT); Pisa Tinoisamoa (LB); Nick Leckey (C); Anthony Becht (TE); Fakhir Brown (CB); Jason Craft (CB); Dane Looker (WR); Brett Romberg (C).

Player to Watch: Laurent Robinson, WR.
The Rams acquired the former third round pick from Atlanta this offseason and thus far, he has impressed. He’s already solidified the No. 2 receiver position across from Donnie Avery and could emerge as the Rams’ top playmaker in their passing game. At 6’2, 194-pounds, Robinson has excellent size, speed and has demonstrated this summer that he can catch the ball in traffic. Injuries forced him out of Atlanta, but he’s making a name for himself in St. Louis and could become a household name by the end of the season.

Team Strength: In the past three years, the Rams have invested two first round picks in their defensive line and with the guidance of former Giants’ defensive guru Steve Spagnuolo, the unit could become a strength this season. Of course, that will depend on whether or not former second overall pick Chris Long can take the next step in his development and if former ’07 first round pick Adam Carriker can stay healthy. Defensive ends tend take a couple years to develop, but Long has the drive and tenacity to inevitably succeed. Although he’s getting long in the tooth, Leonard Little still brings plenty to the table as a pass rusher and could help free up Long to make plays on the other side. Assuming Carriker and Little can stay healthy and Long blossoms in his second year, the D-line could be one of the few positives for the Rams this season.

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Favorite team not making many moves? Don’t sweat.

With the first wave of free agency complete in the NFL, this is roughly the point in time where fans start having mental breakdowns regarding why their favorite team hasn’t made many moves.

It’s because they’re smart, Junior.

The draft is just over a month away and it appears that more and more teams have realized that you don’t build a core in free agency – you build it in April.

Two offseasons ago, the 49ers signed Nate Clements, Michael Lewis and Tully Banta-Cain in free agency and all the experts bought into the idea that San Fran had dramatically upgraded its defense in one offseason. But then the games started and it was same old, same old for the Niners as they finished 5-11 and third in the NFC West. As it turns out, the players that San Fran had drafted high in previous years (Rashaun Woods, Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, etc.) didn’t produce.

Last year, the Raiders made the biggest splash in free agency, signing Javon Walker and Gibril Wilson, while trading for young cornerback DeAngelo Hall, leading many to believe that they were heading in the right direction. After going 5-11 and finishing third in the AFC West, only Walker remains on the roster as both Hall and Wilson were released either during (Hall) or after (Wilson) the season. Not unlike the Niners, previous drafts had been the true demise of the Raiders.

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