Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 6/26/13
Last season the St. Louis Rams were the youngest team in the NFL, so naturally they would go out and look for veterans to come in and help out the young guys right? Wrong. What the Rams did is get younger, losing the majority of their veterans and replacing them with young bodies. The last of the veterans sit on the offensive line with most of the offense being 25 or younger.With the departure of Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola there is some serious voids to be filled on offense. The addition of Jake Long gives the Rams a much needed proven LT to protect the not so mobile Sam Bradford. How will the young guys come together and will their defense remain solid? Question 5: Life after Steven Jackson, who's the lead-back or is it committee time?Isaiah Pead was the Ram's 2012 second round pick but was severely unspectacular last season. Pead claims that it was due to "falling so far behind, that he couldn't catch up." Add that to his one game suspension to start this season and Pead may have some trouble to land the starting spot. Although, Jeff Fisher has confirmed that Pead will still be involved in the starting spot battle as recent as June 7.Last Season Daryl Richardson was the opposite of Isaiah Pead and as a seventh-round draft pick who went out and quickly impressed coach Fisher and company. Richardson averaged 4.8 yards per carry as he finished the year with 475 yards on 98 carries. He has great acceleration and has the ability to outrun anyone in space. The most carries that he had in a game last season was 15 then 11 with the rest being less than double-digit carries. Richardson is tabbed as more of a change of pace back as opposed to a workhorse.Incoming rookie Zac Stacy had a very impressive career at Vanderbilt where he rushed for 24 touchdowns and 2,334 yards in his final two seasons there. Stacy is a powerful inside runner who can shed first contact and finishes his runs falling forward. Stacy is built like MJD/Doug Martin standing only 5'8" but with strong legs and big biceps. Stacy has the potential to be a sleeper to win this backfield race if Fisher decides to commit to one of them.The Rams' OC has recently said they are going to use a committee approach. That is easy to say now, one of these guys could end up pulling away and making it a no contest.Question 4: Still young, will the defense be able to improve on a solid 2012 campaign?Last season the very young and very talented St. Louis Rams defense were tied at the top of the league in sacks with 52. With four of their top six tacklers returning this defense looks to have another good season behind leader James Laurinaitis. Jeff Fisher is a defensive minded head coach who will have his defense even sharper for the 2013 season.Question 3: Is Tavon Austin the Rookie of the Year?The St. Louis Rams certainly made a statement when they moved up to the No. 8 spot in the draft to draft the super speedy Tavon Austin from West Virginia. Austin figures to be a big part of the offensive game-plan as he can line up in either the slot, outside or even in the backfield. Using him in a "Percy Harvin" type role will not only benefit the Rams this season but Austin as well as he is the early favorite to win Rookie of the Year, barring any injuries.His biggest adjustment to the NFL game may be the speed at which it is played. Austin is used to reversing his field and getting around the corner, while this is still possible in the NFL it is much, much more difficult than in college. Question 2: Losing his favorite target, who will Sam Bradford turn to this year?Without Danny Amendola, Sam Bradford will have to find someone else to get the ball to. Bradford has done it plenty of times before as Amendola has only played one full season out of his four in the NFL. Amendola has missed 21 games in the past two seasons. Without Amendola Bradford had to turn to players like Brandon Gibson, Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis. With Gibson leaving as well the Rams drafted Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey who were also teammates in college and should bring in immediate chemistry.Chris Givens was used mainly as a deep threat last season but if they plan on using him in that role and an underneath role, Givens can have a very good year. Second-year receiver Brian Quick will use his tall body frame in the red-zone and the Rams organization would like to see him take a step in the right direction this season as they can use all the help they can get at wide receiver.Question 1: Is this the year that Sam Bradford finally lives up to his true potential?Bradford is coming off his best season statistically as he recorded 21 TD and 3,702 yards. He completed over 59 percent of his passes last season and threw 13 interceptions. Many of which were from deflections or dropped passes. Bradford is losing Steven Jackson which may make it difficult for Bradford to be successful if the defenses decide to focus on stopping the pass. The Rams will need to establish some sort of running game to help open up the receivers and keep them away from double teams. The addition of some key weapons via the draft and free agency should help Bradford emerge into what the Rams and the NFL know he can be.
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