When the opportunity to converse with insightful editors of other team-oriented sites arises, SeahawkFootball.com will take full advantage. As crazy as it might sound, fans of other NFL teams are just as passionate for their club as the 12s are for the Seahawks. In a new feature we'll call Speaking with the Enemy, we'll share Questions and Answers with the editors from this week's opponent: the St. Louis Rams.
Here are my questions and his answers:
1. How has the transition from Sam Bradford and Co. to Nick Foles gone? Is he the answer to the Rams' search for a franchise quarterback?
Foles seemed to make a strong first impression with his new teammates and was lauded as being a leader who was a guy who could get others up and ready to go for workouts and practice sessions. Whether he is the answer to the Rams' search remains to be seen and, based on his contract extension, I think it's fair to say the Rams aren't sure either. He's basically being paid a reasonable salary with incentives for this season and next but then the Rams can save more than $12 million in cap space if they release him before 2017. Foles looks like he can be the guy for the Rams, but they'll need to keep him healthy and his durability has been one of the issues so far in his young career.
2. Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald deservedly receive much of attention along St. Louis' terrific defensive line, but free agent addition Nick Fairley could also prove a force. How has the former first round pick acclimated to the Rams' rotation?
Fairley has been a guy who hasn't practiced a lot throughout training camp because of an undisclosed injury, but the Rams have been happy with what they've seen of him, including his conditioning. They like to rotate fresh guys in along that defensive front and have the depth to do so with guys like Fairley and ends William Hayes and Eugene Sims. Fairley's addition allows the Rams to utilize his strengths and put him in positions to succeed. He's on a one-year deal so he should be motivated to have a big season and maximize his value offseason.
3. What is the latest on the availability of running backs Todd Gurley and Tre Mason for Sunday's opener?
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said on Saturday that Gurley will not play in the season opener against the Seahawks. I still think we're a couple weeks away from seeing Gurley, based on them taking their time getting healthy rookie running backs on the field the past two seasons. Fisher said Monday night on his radio show that Mason will likely be a game-time decision. If neither of those guys are available, Benny Cunningham will be the starter and will be backed up by former second-round pick Isaiah Pead.
4. With three new starters, the Seahawks are in a bit of flux along the offensive line. From an outsider looking in, the Rams appear to also be in a transition period up front. How are young tackles Greg Robinson and rookie Rob Havenstein performing, thus far?
The success of the Rams this season may come down to how well the offensive line performs and there are plenty of questions about whether this new-look group can get the job done. Robinson and Havenstein both looked like rookies during their limited playing time in the preseason. Robinson, who is a couple months younger than Havenstein, spent the offseason rehabbing from surgery after a turf toe injury and slimmed down quite a bit but he's still a work in progress as a pass blocker. Havenstein will struggle in the area as well, but he'll probably get more help from tight ends and fullbacks. Both players should be helped by an offensive scheme designed to get the ball out of Foles' right hand as quickly as possible.
5. The Rams receiving (and tight end) corps is filled with talented athletes. Have any of them developed an especially strong rapport with Foles already?
I can't say that any one particular player stands out in that regard. Foles has spread the ball around quite a bit throughout practices and the Rams don't really have that true No. 1 option at wide receiver or tight end. It's a solid group of receivers, including tight ends Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks, but there's no one player that jumps out as a guy defenses will have to scheme against. The Rams have said, on several occasions, that they want to get the ball to Tavon Austin more. But whether they can take advantage of his playmaking ability is yet to be determined.