As the Arizona Cardinals prepare for the regular season opener on Sunday, they should have a manageable task against the St. Louis Rams. After going 1-15 in 2009, the Rams continued to rebuild their roster by selecting former Oklahoma standout Sam Bradford with the first overall pick of the draft. St. Louis has since guaranteed the rookie signal caller $50 million.
While the Rams have their quarterback of the present and future, the team lacks depth and has problems at virtually every position. St. Louis has lost fourteen consecutive divisional matchups, and although Bradford has showed plenty of promise during the preseason, it's unlikely he'll singlehandedly pull the Rams out of the NFC West cellar.
On offense, St. Louis has little hope beyond Bradford and RB Steven Jackson. Jackson has been a workhorse and carried the Rams offense the last few seasons, but the wear on his body is evident as Jackson had back surgery in April. Without a viable backup, expect Jackson to receive even more carries than usual but it's uncertain whether he'll hold up for the duration of the game.
Bradford lost his top receiving threat during the preseason when wideout Donnie Avery went down with a knee injury. The rest of the receiving corps is lackluster at best, even with the recent addition of former Ravens WR Mark Clayton.
Depth on the offensive line is also a major question mark in St. Louis. If the line can stay healthy, it should improve dramatically over last season. However, if injuries persist in the trenches, the entire offense could unravel. The Rams' linemen up front will also have the added pressure of protecting the team's crown jewel in Bradford.
If the line can't get it done, Bradford could be in store for the same fate as David Carr, the former No. 1 pick who was sacked 76 times in 2002 during his rookie year with the Houston Texans.
Chris Long, the second overall pick in the 2008 draft, anchors the defensive line. Playing both defensive end spots, Long looks to continue his growth after leading the team in quarterback hits and hurries a year ago. Aside from Long, the defense is lacking playmakers and depth. Former Ohio State standout James Laurinaitis headlines the linebacking corps and was the team leader in tackles last season.
The Rams' secondary is respectable at cornerback, but tends to be vulnerable over the middle and on deep throws. Kevin Dockery and Ronald Bartell enter the season as the starters but two youngsters – Bradley Fletcher and Jerome Murphy – might end up taking over at some point during the year. Oshiomogho Atogwe headlines the safety position in St. Louis and if nothing else provides the Rams with an excellent last line of defense.
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Week 1 Scouting Report: St. Louis Rams
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