Here's a transcript of the
questions and answers from Tuesday's live chat with Post-Dispatch
football writer Jim Thomas:
With Jason Smith
susceptibility to concussions has he or the team looked into
wearing a special helmet designed to reduce his risk of
concussions? I remember back in the 90’s Mark Kelso of the Bills
wore a big bulbous helmet that looked like he got it from the Great
Gazoo that extended his career. I assume that the technology has
improved over the last 20 years and it wouldn’t stick out like a
sore thumb. However, I would hate to see Jason’s career shorten and
his quality of life reduced if this can be prevented with a change
Jim Thomas: Not sure.
I'll try to check into it.
2) If the Rams do reasonably well the second part of the season, is
there a chance they might trade some of their late round picks next
draft to move up to get as many high-grade receivers they can? Or
is this team still at a point it needs all the draft picks it can
1) Is it too early to
call Gilyard and Onobun draft misses? How disappointed are the Rams
with Gilyard that he hasn't been able to be productive (I know
injuries have played a part though)
Jim Thomas: 1.) W-A-Y
too early. For one, I don't think anyone was expecting Onobun to
play much thise season anyway. He was just too raw given that he'd
played only one year of college football. As for Gilyard, he's been
a disappointment so far, but I don't think you can call a guy a
draft "miss" eight games into his rookie season.
2.) I'm not sure what you'd get for late picks. I think at this
point, the Rams still need all the picks they can get.
while i think it was a
good move not to go after moss, any chance of doing it in the off
season or maybe T.O.?
Jim Thomas: Doubt it.
And part of the reason is that those players _ at the current stage
in their careers _ want to play for a perceived Super Bowl
contender. The Rams still have a lot of victories to get if they
want to be included in that category.
taking our questions, each week. I enjoy hearing from fellow Ram
fans across North America. It sure exciting times at Rams Nation,
isn't it? My question is do know of the rams looking at bringing in
any wide receivers this week? Are there any worth looking at and
signing to shore up that position?
Jim Thomas: At this
point, there's really not a whole left out there at wide receiver.
Usually by this time of year, the Tuesday visits/workouts wind down
because you've basically evaluated everyone who can walk and chew
gum at the same time at this point. I'm not aware of any visits
Is there any
scenario where we don't see a major upgrade at WR this off-season?
Devaney has a history of ignoring the obvious needs (back-up
running back). Plus, I could see the team re-packaging Avery,
Clayton, and Alexander and saying "imagine what it will be like now
that they are all healthy!"
Jim Thomas: I think
there's a train of thought that in a true West Coast offense where
you spread the ball around, you really don't need a standout
receiver. But boy, does an offense look better when it has one. A
prime example is Philadelphia, which for many of the past several
years kept looking and looking for upgrades at receiver until they
finally came up with a couple of studs in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy
Maclin. As for saying about Avery, Clayton and Alexander "imagine
what it will be like now that they are all healthy" -- what
guarantee do we have that they will all be healthy given their
injury histories, particularly in the case of Avery and Alexander?
Plus, Clayton is a free agent after this season, so there's no
guarantee he will be back.
first I am really trying to figure out the 53/45 man roster thing.
Why pay 53 men to play football and only be able to dress 45 on
game day, what is the purpose behind this? Second who is going to
play wide receiver in Sunday’s game if some more go down do one of
the TE/RB move out or just allot two tight end sets.
Jim Thomas: The purpose
of the 53 to 45 rule is to level the playing field in case of
injuries. And I guess in theory, it puts less pressure on teams to
try to persuade injured players to get on the field. My problem is
that eight inactive players (or seven and a 3rd qb if you're a team
that has 3 QBs) is just too big a number. How about pushing up the
game-day roster to 48, adding three more active players. Why not
see how that works? It does seem pretty stupid to play players not
As for your second question, it looks like that's a risk the Rams
are willing to take for at least the next couple of weeks. The Rams
use very few four WR sets anyway, but it is skating on thin
As a Rams fan living in the heart of Steelers country, very rarely
do I get to see my favorite team in action. I know the schedules
are probably developed way in advance, but we've seen some definite
stinkers on Sunday and Monday Night Football this season.
it take, aside from winning of course, for the Rams to generate the
buzz to make them worthy enough to be on Sunday Night or Monday
Night Football? St. Louis has a young, exciting franchise QB, a
superstar RB that should be a household name, and a defense that is
really coming into its own.
Jim Thomas: The Rams
haven't been on prime time since a Thursday night NFL Network game
Dec. 20, 2007 against Pittsburgh. When you've lost 6 out of your
last 48 games, nobody wants to watch you outside of your local
market (and that week's opponent market). But I agree that things
are changing. The Rams still don't have a bunch of marquee players,
but Bradford, Jackson and the defense should be calling cards. I
think if the team finishes out the season decently -- maybe 7-9 or
better -- they should be in consideration for a prime time
This has been a great
year so far so i don't want to be pessimistic, but is it safe to
say that Jason Smith is a bust? I think that Rodger Saffold has
been incredible at LT. what is his ceiling? Can he be a great one
in the future?
Jim Thomas: Why is Jason
Smith a bust? He missed one game this season because of a
concussion. Looks like he'll be back in action this week. He's had
some rough spots, but I think he's played decently. As for Saffold,
I wouldn't say incredible, but he's been pretty good -- again he's
had some rough spots as well. I don't know about great, but Saffold
certainly has the athleticism and seems to have the temperament to
be very good.
can you talk about the
injury situation. is justin king and jason smith playing this week?
what other players are coming back?
Jim Thomas: We'll get a
better idea on Wednesday. Monday's practice was only about 1 hour
15 minutes. It looks like Danario Alexander and Fendi Onobun will
be out for sure. Donnie Jones is still trying to rest that calf
injury. It looks like the secondary's in pretty good shape -- James
Butler, Darian Stewart, and Justin King all took part in Monday's
abbreviated practice. But not Bartell. Again, we'll see what
Wednesday looks like.
In light of the
Rams improved play and division leading status I am curious to know
if ticket sales for the remaining three home games is improving? Do
the Rams expect any games to be complete sellouts without sponsor
support? My guess is the Chiefs game will sellout. The atmosphere
has greatly improved this year at the dome, would love to see all
the seats filled for the remaining three home games.
Jim Thomas: At last
check, and it's been a couple of weeks, the San Francisco game
(Dec. 26) still had tons of tickets left; the Kansas City game
(Dec. 19) had the fewest. (We may see quite a few Chiefs fans in
the stands for that one.) And the Atlanta game, Nov. 21, was
somewhere in between. According to exec. VP Kevin Demoff, the
team's improved play has led to some increased coporate sales, but
hasn't really led to any improvement in individual ticket
Jim, I've been
living in Arizona the past six years but am still a Ram's fan.
Howie Long voiced his opinion against an eighteen game schedule
because of the injuries and surgeries the players suffer. Do you
have a pulse on how some of the players feel? Some of their bruises
are pretty ugly but they just keep playing. Thank you, John
Jim Thomas: I don't
think there's a player in the locker room who's in favor of an
18-game schedule. (At least I haven't had one player express to me
that he likes the idea of 18 regular-season games. And I've asked
With the failure to
place a claim for Randy Moss, are the RAMS sending a message that
team chemistry and harmony are more important than potentially
Jim Thomas: For one,
Spags has spent a year and a half to build up some chemistry here.
Now that the team appears to be finally on the right path why
threaten that with a "me-first" player known to quit on plays and
quit in games when things aren't going this way? The other thing,
maybe Moss didn't want to be here, preferring to play with more of
a contending team.
And lastly, if Moss was such a no-brainer/can't miss claim why did
31 OTHER TEAMS pass on him?
The Rams have
been night and day better than they were for the last three years.
In your opionion, why are they playing Better?
Jim Thomas: The Cliff
Notes version: The two biggest areas in terms of personnel are 1.)
the quarterback; and 2.) the defense. I think the coaching has been
better as well.
We hear so very little
about the new owner since he took over. Is he involved at all in
Jim Thomas: Stan Kroenke
has been to most of the home games. He was at Rams Park on a Monday
one week for a series of meetings. In terms of routine day to day
personnel decisions, I'm pretty sure he's not involved. That's why
you have a general manager.
What's your take on
Laurent Robinson? Last year he was having a very promising year
until his injury. This year he doesn't seem to have found his
groove. Is it nagging injuries or is this what we can expect from
him week in and week out? Thanks.
Jim Thomas: He saw a lot
of time against Carolina and should see a lot of time vs. San
Francisco as well. The Rams really don't have any other options at
this point. He still doesn't look like he's moving as well to me as
he did early in the '09 season before his '09 injury. This could be
a make-or-break stretch for him.
Lastly, I can't remember such an important game for the
It's been a long time
since we have controlled our own destiny in the NFC West. Do you
think that Spags will deliver that message to the Team, or just say
take one game at a time approach? I think it's an important
Jim Thomas: I think
Spags doesn't mind the team being aware of the big picture. After
all, their goal has always been to win the West. But I don't think
he wants them to dwell too much on that. He wants them to focus on
the task at hand, which is San Francisco. One practice, one day,
one week at a time. That's the Spags way, and it's really not much
different than most football coaches. After all, it's impossible to
get to, say, nine victories until you get to five victories
This is the team's most important game since at least the '06
season, maybe even earlier than that. Fitting isn't it, that it's
against the Rams' old West Coast rivals, the 49ers.
We know the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings are overrated. And
the Seattle Seahawks aren't very good. So why do the networks keep
shoving the "nationally televised game" down our throats featuring
these teams while the Rams are beginning to make some noise and
aren't even considered? I would think by now the rest of the
country would like to see Sam Bradford. Or is it because the Rams
are still considered "losers" to TV networks? Thanks for your
Jim Thomas: Well, except
for the "flex" scheduling which begins next week, the schedule is
what it is. Even on the highlight shows, the networks seem to be
obsessed with Favre/Minnesota/Dallas/McNabb....A couple of weeks
ago, if you weren't in St. Louis you never would've known that one
of the great WRs of all time, Isaac Bruce, had his jersey retired.
Then again, he's not a "me-first" head case is he? I thought it was
amusing during Monday night's Pittsburgh-Cincy game when the
announcers talked about how happy Terrell Owens is in Cincy. Well
why wouldn't he be? He has been targeted about 10-12 times a game.
It's when things aren't going T.O.'s way that he becomes a problem.
And did you notices the Ochocinco tantrum during the game? For all
the numbers T.O. has put up, how many games have the Bengals won
this year? (2-6) Last year, minus T.O., the Bengals were 6-2 after
JT, we all know the Rams
are thin at WR. Another injury and they will have to go raid a PS
or bring back guys like Burton or Kent. I would prefer raiding the
Bears PS and bringing in Juaquin Iglesias. I know Bernie has
mentioned him as well in his blog. Of course Juaqin is not going to
be another Ike Bruce. If he can't crack the Bears active roster,
that is alarming. But........his familiarity with Bradford and the
cohesion they share from their time in college would be attractive,
don't you think? Have you specifically asked the Rams about
Iglesias? Just wondering if there had been any talk considering he
and Bradford were successful in college.
Jim Thomas: I'm not
aware of any interest in Iglesias.
I see that Mark
Setterstrom is on the PUP list. I believe this is about the time
that teams can re-activate players from the PUP list. So, could we
expect Mark to play this year? On another OL question, who backs up
Saffold at LT? Does Jason Smith move over, or someone else takes
Jim Thomas: Setterstom
won't be back this year.
Foster, Goldberg and Smith are all possibilities at LT behind
I am looking for the
Rams to play smashmouth football the rest of the season, 2 TEs and
a whole lot of SJ39, throw in some play action passes. What do you
expect the offense to do in the 2nd half? I imagine a lot of it
revolves around if Denario gets back on the field
Jim Thomas: I think
it'll be pretty much what we've seen since Clayton was injured.
This team has to scrap for every point. The Rams' main formation
this year has actually been three wide receiver sets -- and again,
I don't think that changes much. Obviously, a healthy and
productive Danario could change the dynamic at least
hi jim. i have 100%
confidence in coach spagnuolo in his ability to motivate and lead a
group of winners, which seems to be the type of player he has
brought in and/or kept. which is why it pains me to see former
rams...hargrove, hedgecock, kennedy, lewis, leonard, chillar...do
well for other teams. these players were here during linehan's
tenure. if only spags had a chance to reach, teach, and motivate
these guys into winners while they were here. who knows what the
rams might be capable of. presently, only incognito comes to mind
as an 'unreachable' player under spags. any additions/deletions to
Jim Thomas: Well,
Kennedy, Hargrove, and Leonard are all roll players. I don't think
Lewis is in the league right now. Hedgecock and Chillar would've
fit in with a lot of coaches.
How many wins do you think
it is going to take to win the west?
Jim Thomas: Nine, maybe
Is it TOO early to bring
DX back...He was at practice 11 days from the surgery. I am no
doctor, but is it worth the risk.
Jim Thomas: I think he's
still a couple weeks away.
Any interest in
Jim Thomas: Don't think
JT, halfway through the
season do you assess the Rams needs in the offseason any
differently than you did before the season started? In no
particular order, I still feel the Rams need these SIX pieces: big,
strong DT that is stout against the run, a pure pass rushing DE, an
OLB to pair with JL55, a big strong #1 WR that can stretch the
field, a playmaking #1a Tailback with speed and elusiveness, an
Offensive Guard. Obviously safety, another big Corner, another OT
are always of interest in terms of depth. But do you agree with the
"big six" in terms of top needs going into 2011?
Jim Thomas: Hard
to disagree with your six.
It seems to me that
this is a make-or-break game for the 49ers but not for the Rams. Is
this a fair assessment?
Jim Thomas: I do think a
loss hurts the 49ers more than it does the Rams. But if the Rams
are serious about winning the West, they're going to have to pick
up two, three road wins somewhere along the way.
I'm curious as to
how the impending lockout will affect next years draft. Would there
even be a draft? If there is a draft but the season is cancelled
because of the lack of an agreement, would those players be
eligible to re-enter the next year's draft or would they become
free agents for sitting out a year? Is there a possiblity that next
year's graduating seniors could be in a '12 draft with 2012's draft
eligible players? If so, would the NFL extend the number of rounds
for the '12 draft? I could go on and on. I guess the most important
question is, will the two sides reach an agreement before next
Jim Thomas: Impossible
to say right now.
Seeing teams like the
Cowboys "quit" on a coach - if that's what happened - what is it
that you see about Spag's that motivates his players to "want" to
splay for him? Or do you get the sense that players could care less
and it's just about the x's and o's?
Jim Thomas: Spags comes
across as a sincere, driven, genuine person. Not that he's a
softie, because he's not, but he tries to connect with the players
on an individual basis as well. He doesn't mope after a tough loss.
All of these are qualities that I think the players buy in to, but
sooner or later there must be progress in order for the players to
ocntinue buying in. And right now, we're seeing progress.
After looking at some of
the young QB's in the NFL I started to wonder....(and yes i know
there is a lot of projection still left)....BUt who do you think
will be the best QB in the future out of Bradford, Stafford and
Jim Thomas: Stafford
continues to have injury problems, and I'm sure that's a concern
for Detroit. I don't think Freeman has all of the passing skills
that Bradford possesses. But Freeman has had a knack for
fourth-quarter comebacks, something Bradford has yet to
I know there is alot of
season left, but do you see Spags as a possible Coach of the Year
candidate? Let's say the Rams hang on and win the NFC West, I would
think he would have to be at the top of the list. Your
Jim Thomas: Sure. Right
now, Raheem Morris, Todd Haley, and even the "Cable Guy" would have
to be candidates as well. Not to mention Mike Smith in
Chamberlain back from his injury yet?
Jim Thomas: Yes, he has
been back _ mainly on special teams _ for the past two games.
impression of CB Jerome Murphy so far?
Jim Thomas: Rough around
the edges. Good size. Aggressive. Has shown he can be a good
tackler but has also taken some bad angles and missed some tackles.
Pretty good ball instincts.
Looking at how good both
bradford and Suh have been this season, do you think the rams made
the right decision, or would they look better with Suh and Colt
McCoy (he has been darn impressive vs tough teams this seaosn, but
still a lot to see)
Jim Thomas: Bradford and
Saffold look like two pretty good draft picks to me.
Hi Jim, Why are we not
taking a look at Fendi as a #1? It looks like Mike H0-Ho will be
our starting t/e because of his blocking skills, so why not at
least try Fendi even if he can only run a streak, slant, curl and
an out? It's not like Calvin Johnson runs the world's best
routes--he is just such a beast when the ball gets there--just like
Fendi could be. IF we aren't playing Fendi much now (when his hip
is better), then I just do not see why he isn't a better option
than Burton, or whoever at this point. THANKS! Rich
Jim Thomas: Onobun
played one (1) year in college. As talented as he is, he is very
rough around the edges. I just don't think he's ready. And right
now, he's hurt.
Are there any plans for
the Rams to change the uniforms? There's been a lot of talk about
the throwback choices, but what about a whole new look? Any impetus
on that front?
Jim Thomas: Haven't
heard anything on this.
I watched Randy
McMichael make two outstanding touchdown catches against Houston
this weekend. Where were those hands when he was in St. Louis?
Speaking of tight ends, can the Rams now be considered loaded at
the position given the play of Bajema, Fells, and Hoomanawanui? I
wonder if Onubun will be able to get on the roster next year much
less get on the field.
Jim Thomas: Until last
week, McMichael hadn't done much in San Diego. I don't know about
loaded, but right now TE doesn't look like a position of
If another team claims a
player off of the RAMS practice squad, would the Rams have the
right to keep this player by moving him to the 53 man roster?
Jim Thomas: In theory
yes. The Rams could offer him a spot on their 53-man roster before
he signs with the other club. But then it would be the player's
Will Jason Smith
play this week? And, any definitive explanation regarding Clifton
Jim Thomas: Looks like
Smith will play. But we'll know more Wednesday. As for Ryan, I
think even he is still searching for answers.
Obviously it would
be great if the Rams won the NFC west but i'm thinking fans are
getting a little ahead of themselves with the 10-6, 11-5 talk. This
team won 6 games in 3 the last years combined!! I would be
extremely happy with anywhere from 6-8 wins and another offseason
to add some free agents and some more solid draft picks. It's funny
how everyone reacts to a Rams loss now - like they were supposed to
go 12-4 or something. We're 4-4 at the halfway point with a rookie
qb who gets better every week - not bad I'd say. Thoughts??
Jim Thomas: No doubt the
expectations have been raised. More importantly, I think this team
now believes in itself, at least more so than it did in years.
Before we start dreaming of playoffs, let's see if this team can
win one (1) road game.
If I recall
correctly, the Rams passed on Mike Williams when they picked Mardy
Gilyard. Williams went to Tampa Bay and is tearing it up. Is this a
true miss by Devaney or is it too early to tell?
Jim Thomas: Too early to
tell. Gilyard was taken No. 99 overall, or two spots ahead of
Jim, will the
talk of Rams leaving ever end? There's always this black cloud
hanging over the organization.
Jim Thomas: Not until
the lease situation gets resolved.
Jim-any news on denario
alexander will he be back soon?
Jim Thomas: Still a
couple weeks away -- at least.
The Rams have a tough 3-game road stretch in the 2nd half of the
season; based on where these teams are today is 2-1 a realistic
Jim Thomas: Given the
fact that the Rams haven't won a road game in more than a calendar
year, I'd say no.
Do you think the offense
will look to get the ball down field by utilizing our pretty quick
TEs? (IL Mike and Fells)
Jim Thomas: Well, it
would be nice to see the TEs utilized more. And maybe that will
happen now that Hoomanawanui and Bajema are back and have had a few
games to get back in the groove.
Weird question for you, which Jersey should I get? Laurenitis or
Bradford? And do you think the Rams can actually pull off the
division title? I mean, even if they just win the 4 division games
left, 8-8 gets it?
I know its early but
dont you think the Rams will draft Julio Jones next year. Big WR,
Big Play Ability, and Blocks extremely well.
Jim Thomas: Not ready to
answer questions about the draft...I'd get an Isaac Bruce
jersey....All things possible on division title front, but even
winning just the four division wins means the Rams must win three
games on the road.
Anyway to get the
word out to keep the Chiefs fans out? I really hope Rams fan show
up for that game and it remains a Rams home game.
Jim Thomas: I don't
think there's any way to keep them from buying tickets. And many of
them, I'm sure, already have been purchased.
Is there any reason
why Sam doesn't run the ball more often? It seems there are times
when he has an opening but chooses to throw off. I think he would
pose another threat if he held the ball and ran more often.
Jim Thomas: Don't think
Sam's thing is really to run the football. He uses his athleticism
more to buy time as a passer. And the more a qb runs, the more he's
susceptible to injury....That's it for today, talk to you all next