St. Louis Rams Scrimmage Preview

The St. Louis Rams will hold an open scrimmage on Saturday night at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. Here's a list of players and/or positions to watch on Saturday night:

1. Sam Bradford. Obviously all eyes will be on the No. 1 overall draft pick and the new face of the franchise. He had his best day of training camp on Friday when he made several strong throws, went through his progressions and moved the offense down the field like you would hope to see from the quarterback of the future.

2. Running backs. It's doubtful that Steven Jackson will participate much, if at all, during Saturday's scrimmage. So fans will get a look at the battle to become his backup. Chris Ogbonnaya, the 2009 seventh-round draft pick out of the University of Texas, has taken over the No. 2 running back spot early in camp, but without a proven veteran in the mix the situation looks like it will be fluid. Kenneth Darby was the team's second-leading rusher in 2009 with 152 yards on 27 carries, but his 5.6 yards per carry is an impressive stat for a backup running back. Darby also made 18 catches for 56 yards a season ago.

3. Tight end. There will be some difficult decisions made on which tight ends to keep on the active roster going into the season. Billy Bajema and Daniel Fells have seen the most reps in practice with the first and second teams, respectively. Rookies Michael Hoomanawanui and Fendi Onobun have both shown flashes of their ability in training camp and will get their first opportunity on Saturday night to show what they can do in a game-like setting.

4. Wide receiver. The Rams have several talented but unproven players out on the perimeter. Donnie Avery, now in his third season, is the most proven wide receiver the Rams have. Laurent Robinson, who looks like he will start opposite Avery, has been impressive in training camp so far and looks like he is recovered from the broken leg that ended his season in week three last year. Danny Amendola has followed up a productive 2009 debut with the Rams by being a steady and productive player in training camp. Brandon Gibson has done some good things in camp. Rookie Mardy Gilyard has shown flashes of his talent but has also looked like a rookie. Like Robinson, Keenan Burton and Brooks Foster are coming back from injuries. The Rams are looking for guys to step up as playmakers and this scrimmage will be a good opportunity for these receivers to prove themselves.

5. Defensive ends. Unless the Rams decide to bring back Leonard Little out of retirement, the starting defensive ends in 2010 will be third-year pro Chris Long and veteran James Hall. But after those two, there are a lot of players fighting for jobs. Rookies Hall Davis, Eugene Sims and George Selvie haven't done much so far in camp to separate themselves. One or two of those guys needs to show they can be productive as backups and help this team.

6. Kevin Dockery. The diminutive cornerback signed in the offseason as a free agent has made big play after big play in training camp. The 5-foot-8, 188-pounder, who spent four seasons with the New York Giants, is possibly the biggest surprise of training camp so far. Spagnuolo loves the guy.

7. Punt/kick returners. Amendola has been as steady as a returner in camp as you would expect following his strong 2009 season. Gilyard, who was an explosive returner during his career at Cincinnati, has not been nearly as consistent as Amendola. The Rams obviously invested in Gilyard as a fourth-round pick because they liked his ability as a receiver and as a returner and he'll get plenty of chances to show what he can do in the return game.

8. Linebackers. The starters for most, if not all, of training camp have been James Laurinaitis in the middle with Na'il Diggs and Larry Grant on the outside. Bobby Carpenter, acquired from Dallas in the Alex Barron trade, is big and fast but so far hasn't been able to overtake Grant for one of the outside spots. David Vobora, Chris Chamberlain and Dominic Douglas all have some experience there. Rookies Josh Hull and Cardia Jackson have impressed at times during camp but have been getting limited reps behind the veterans.

9. Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold. Smith, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2009, is still a bit of a mystery. He's a massive offensive tackle who has battled injuries — he was limited to eight games during his rookie season — and is currently the team's second-string right tackle behind veteran Adam Goldberg. Smith needs to get healthy and show he was worth the significant investment the Rams made in him a year ago. Saffold, the Rams' second-round pick this spring, has been one of the highlights of training camp so far with his ability to come in and handle the left tackle spot. He already looks the part, but he needs to be solid at that position for this offensive line to be a strength going into the regular season.

10. Defensive backs. The secondary took some hits this week with Ron Bartell's ankle injury and the severity of James Butler's knee injury suffered on Friday afternoon still unknown. Dockery has been strong, but youngsters Bradley Fletcher and Justin King have missed some time in camp with either injuries or for precautionary reasons. This unit, led by Oshiomogho Atogwe, looks like it can be one of the team's strengths if guys can stay on the field and some of the youngsters step up.


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