1.) Let's start with the Rams injury list. I almost had to read it twice. What's the latest on Rodger Saffold, Craig Dahl and your TE situation? Who will play if they can't go?
TST: The injury list is growing to astonishing proportions. But hey, it's a talented group. Our injured list can beat most teams injured list, so take that, ESPN. It's something we've had to deal with for a half decade now, bring ravaged by injury. In any case, that's behind us. Sunday is, uh, any given? I think I botched that. Irregardlesslyish, we've got key guys out, but that's part of coaching is overcoming injuries and finding ways to get the job done.
Saffold should play. He's been limited in practice, but it seems like soreness more than an injury that will keep him sidelined.
Dahl's situation is more disconcerting. He is still concuss-y as of Thursday night, so I wouldn't be surprised if he sits whether he passes the concussions tests or not.
As for TEs, our blocking specialist, Billy Bajema, is out with a MCL tear, and rookie Mike Hoomanawanui is also still out with a high ankle sprain. Daniel Fells is likely to be a gametime decision. If you didn't see how he got injured, check it out. Great catch, great effort, great splits? If they're out, the Rams are working very thin already, so there's not a ton of answers. There are options on the offensive line, but given how many iterations of an offensive line we've seen during the last season and an eighth, I'll hold out any specific names. As for tight end, if all three injured tight ends are out, rookie Fendi Onobun is the easiest name to throw out there, but he's a basketball convert who rarely played at Houston in his senior 2009 season and hasn't seen the field yet in the NFL. We also brought Darcy Johnson back to give us the minimal depth necessary to call yourself an NFL team. At safety, SS James Butler can go and is as good of a backup strong safety as you could ask for.
2.) A big story line is Sam Bradford. He looked good week 2 and not so much week 1 (via the stat line). How has he handled different styles of blitzing? (because as you know first-hand, Jim Haslett is a guy that likes to bring it defensively).
TST: I would disagree about your suggestion that he looked much better in week 2, but another discussion for another day. In terms of the blitz, he's handled it as well as could be expected. He checks down frequently even without being pressured, so he's comfortable dumping the ball off. He did bring his rookie-ness to the fore last Sunday on an early, but what turned out to be a key, play. Bradford held on to the ball when he should have, and easily could have, gotten rid of it. The sack, from about the 5, moved the ball back to the 18 and K Josh Brown missed the ensuing field goal on 4th down. The Rams lost by 2. My heart says, "Ow."
3.) Were any personnel moves made defensively last year that helped improve the Rams defense? (editor's note...I meant to say over the last year).
TST: Well, I don't know if you're referencing the draft, but James Laurinaitis (MLB, 2nd round) and Bradley Fletcher (CB, 3rd round) have made the Rams a better defense in every game in which they've played. Laurinaitis is a legit MLB, the kind of player who manages an entire defense, leads by example on and off the field, and motivates those around him to be better than they would without him. He's the object of much manlove. Fletcher, who we at TST often refer to as Bradley Fletcher Bradley, is a great CB prospect for a Spagnuolo/Flajole defense, playing very physical at the line. and maintaining great body control. You guys will hear their names early on Sunday, and don't be surprised if it's becasue they made a play that makes Rams fans happy.
4.) The key for the Rams is getting to McNabb. With our left tackle, Trent Williams, possibly out for the game, any chance they move Long over to RDE to matchup against a struggling Stephon Heyer if he starts there? The DT situation is grim with injuries, how do you foresee the Rams bringing any pressure?
TST: There's definitely a good chance they move him over there, as he's played there this year already. He's generally more productive on the other side, but that's also because he's such a good run-stopper and tackles are forced to deal with a solid variety of power moves from him. As for the defensive tackles specifically and defensive pressure as a whole, I've been vocal at TST for a while as to the low level of talent on our D-line, and it has showed already this year. It's not as if I was alone in that opinion. We just don't have much talent there. We wasted a first round pick on Adam Carriker (and feel free to suggest Adam Carriker is a first round talent...), and never invested in a high-round DT. It's something the Rams have to address with urgency next offseason if they want a chance to make the playoffs in 2011. As for this Sunday, it depends on the gameplan. There was plenty of blitzing against the Cardinals, and Derek Anderson felt the results. We sat back and tried to cover against the Raiders, and Bruce Gradkowski took advantage. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rams blitz on Sunday as well as they installed various blitz packages agaisnt Arizona.
Fred Robbins, the former NY Giant, actually has played decently registering 7 tackles and a sack so far this season as DT.