Monday, September 1, 2014

Rams acquire Case Keenum

ESPN.com
With an apparent eye toward stockpiling weak arms, the Rams have claimed QB Case Keenum off waivers. He was cut by Houston after their trade with New England for Ryan Mallett.

To his full credit, Keenum is the all-time NCAA leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions. However, he was not drafted in 2012, signing with the Texans as an undrafted free agent and spending that season on their practice squad. Arm strength was a major issue - at the 2012 Combine Keenum didn't look capable of throwing any sideline route or even a deep dig - as was his size, as he probably goes 5'11". He also has a torn ACL in his past medical record. (Of course, that's one less than Sam Bradford.)

Keenum closed out last season for the Texans after Matt Schaub imploded, though, and he showed some positive traits. He's good with play-action. He buys time well with his feet. He plays without fear and trusts his receivers. He isn't afraid to go deep and has surprising success with it. He threw 9 TDs (unfortunately, it took 8 games) and 6 INTs. On the negativc side, he fumbled six times (losing two), still doesn't have a lot of experience playing directly under center, throws off his back foot and is still too easy to read. He completed just 54% of his passes and has a career record of 0-8.

Keenum sounds basically like Austin Davis, except with half a season of starting experience, so I'm not sure they're gaining a whole lot. My choice probably would have been Mike Kafka, but that was before Tampa picked him back up for their practice squad. Keenum's certainly got an experience edge over Garrett Gilbert, though, who's now on the Rams' practice squad, and it's wise of the Rams to have a third QB on the main roster. They've at least got a little professional starting experience behind Shaun Hill now.

The Rams will have to release a player to add Keenum to their roster but haven't announced who yet.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Practice squad signings

The Rams' ten-man practice squad has finally been announced:

LB Denicos Allen
WR Emory Blake
S Christian Bryant
DT Matt Conrath
S Matt Daniels
QB Garrett Gilbert
OT Sean Hooey
LB Kevin Reddick
WR Justin Veltung
OL Brandon Washington

The Saints signed Reddick as a UDFA out of North Carolina after last year's draft. He was a core special teams player and appeared in all 16 games, with 12 tackles. He was probably expendable in New Orleans because he didn't demonstrate any upside at the linebacker position this preseason. He's 6'1" 246, has excellent size and athleticism and has some thump as a hitter.

Allen, smaller than Reddick at 5'11" 224, was one of Carolina's UDFA signings after this year's draft and was released in their final cutdown. He had three tackles this preseason. He was a productive special teams player at Michigan State.


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Waiver wire-pa-looza 2014

Time once again for the annual roundup of where all the ex-Rams have ended up after the final round of cuts. It is based on player names I recognized on team roster pages and on the transactions page at ESPN.com, so, heck yeah, there could be mistakes. "Interesting players" are not ex-Rams, they're players who were surprise cuts or are otherwise interesting to me. Deep breath, here we go:

ex-Rams cut: T Max Starks
interesting players cut: K Jay Feely, WR Brian Golden
ex-Rams on roster: none
ex-Rams on coaching staff: none


ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: TE Jacob Pedersen
ex-Rams on roster: RB Steven Jackson. Now in his 11th season, Steven is the longest-tenured current NFL player originally drafted by the Rams.
ex-Rams on coaching staff: none

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: CB Dominique Franks
ex-Rams on roster: S Darian Stewart
ex-Rams on coaching staff: secondary/assistant head coach Steve Spagnuolo 

ex-Rams cut: QB Thaddeus Lewis (cutdown to 75)
interesting player cut: G Doug Legursky, P Brian Moorman
ex-Rams on roster: G Chris Williams
ex-Rams on coaching staff: none


ex-Rams cut: OL Kevin Hughes, TE Mike McNeill
interesting player cut: CB Josh Thomas
ex-Rams on roster: none
ex-Rams on coaching staff: offensive line coach John Matsko, wide receivers coach Rickey Proehl, senior offensive assistant John Ramsdell

ex-Rams cut: OL Rob Turner, T Joe Long (cutdown to 75)
interesting player cut: T Eben Britton, S Adrian Wilson
ex-Rams on roster: TE Matthew Mulligan. Really?
Rams relatives on roster: G Kyle Long
ex-Rams on coaching staff: none

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting players cut: T Will Svitek, RB/Law firm BenJarvus Green-Ellis
ex-Rams on roster: none
ex-Rams on coaching staff: quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese

ex-Rams cut: LB Zac Diles, RB Chris Ogbonnaya, OL Abasi Salimu, LB Caleb McSurdy (cutdown to 75)
interesting player cut: QB Rex Grossman
ex-Rams on roster: G John Greco, WR Andrew Hawkins.
ex-Rams relatives on roster: FB Ray Agnew Jr. Congratulations!
Also: Sam Bradford will be glad to hear his knee was not shredded in vain and Armonty Bryant also made Cleveland's final roster.
ex-Rams on coaching staff: running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, assistant defensive backs coach Bobby Babich

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting players cut: RB Ryan Williams, FB J.C. Copeland
ex-Rams on roster: DE George Selvie
ex-Rams on coaching staff: “passing game coordinator” Scott Linehan

ex-Rams cut: CB Jerome Murphy
interesting player cut: DT Kevin Vickerson
ex-Rams on roster: none
from the I-told-you-so file: WR Isaiah Burse made Denver's final roster
ex-Rams on coaching staff: special teams assistant Derius Swinton

ex-Rams cut: DT Jimmy Saddler-McQueen
interesting player cut: RB Mikel Leshoure
ex-Rams on practice squad: S Nate Ness
ex-Rams on coaching staff: none


ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: CB Jumal Rolle
ex-Rams on roster: none.
ex-Rams on coaching staff: none


ex-Rams cut: TE Zach Potter
interesting player cut: LB Max Bullough
ex-Rams on roster: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
ex-Rams on coaching staff: special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky (Rams scored a TD against his unit last season), defensive line coach Bill Kollar

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: LB Kelvin Sheppard
ex-Rams on roster: CB Josh Gordy
ex-Rams on coaching staff: special teams coordinator Tom McMahon (Rams also scored a TD against his unit last season)

ex-Rams cut: DE Gerald Rivers, LB Josh Hull (cutdown to 75)
interesting player cut: QB Stephen Morris
ex-Rams on injured reserve: Fendi Onobun
ex-Rams on coaching staff: defensive coordinator Bob Babich


ex-Rams cut: T Ryan McKee, DT Jermelle Cudjo (both in cutdown to 75)
interesting player cut: K Ryan Succop
ex-Rams on roster: WR Donnie Avery
ex-Rams on coaching staff: assistant secondary coach Al Harris

ex-Rams cut: QB Brady Quinn (cutdown to 75)
interesting players cut: OL David Arkin, WR Matt Hazel, RB Daniel Thomas
ex-Rams on roster: CB Cortland Finnegan, WR Brandon Gibson, G Shelley Smith
ex-Rams on coaching staff: none

ex-Rams cut: CB Robert Steeples (cutdown to 75)
interesting players cut: S Kurt Coleman, S Chris Crocker. They also cut Mike Zimmer. No, not the head coach. He's a linebacker. Not even related to the head coach.
ex-Rams on roster: none
ex-Rams on coaching staff: defensive backs coach Jerry Gray

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: LS Danny Aiken
ex-Rams relatives cut: LB Eathyn Manumaleuna, Brandon's cousin
ex-Rams on roster: WR Danny Amendola, TE Michael Hoomanawanui
ex-Rams relatives on roster: WR/core special teams player Matthew Slater
ex-Rams on coaching staff: the lamentable Josh McDaniels at OC, defensive assistant Brendan Daly

ex-Rams cut: T Thomas Welch
interesting players cut: CB Champ Bailey, WR Robert Meacham, K Shayne Graham
ex-Rams on injured reserve: T Ty Nsekhe
ex-Rams on coaching staff: assistant head coach/LBs coach Joe Vitt, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, assistant secondary coach Andre Curtis, wide receivers coach Henry Ellard, defensive assistant/linebackers Brian Young

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: DE Israel Idonije
ex-Rams on roster: K Josh Brown, TE Daniel Fells
ex-Rams on coaching staff: defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, secondary coach Peter Giunta

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: WR Stephen Hill. Regarded by many as the best WR available when the Rams took Brian Quick to start the 2nd round in 2012. (The correct answer: Alshon Jeffery)
ex-Rams on roster: DT Leger (DOOZER) Douzable, WR Greg Salas
ex-Rams on practice squad: RB Daryl Richardson
ex-Rams on coaching staff: LBs coach Bobby April III
Rams relatives on coaching staff: defensive backs coach Tim McDonald

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: WR Jacoby Ford
ex-Rams on roster: none
ex-Rams on coaching staff: special teams coach Bobby April, offensive coordinator Greg Olsen, senior offensive assistant Al Saunders

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting players cut: LB Josh Kaddu, K Alex Henery
ex-Rams on roster: CB Bradley Fletcher, punter Donnie Jones
ex-Rams on coaching staff: offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, assistant defensive backs coach Todd Lyght

ex-Rams cut: OL Graham Pocic, OL Emmanuel McCray
interesting player cut: LB Chris Carter
ex-Rams on roster: QB Bruce Gradkowski, K Shaun Suisham
ex-Rams on coaching staff: none 

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: WR Vincent Brown
ex-Rams on roster: QB Kellen Clemens
ex-Rams on coaching staff: secondary coach Ron Milus

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: core special teamer Kassim Osgood
ex-Rams on roster: S Craig Dahl, WR Brandon Lloyd
ex-Rams on coaching staff: none


ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: T Eric Winston
ex-Rams on roster: none
ex-Rams on coaching staff: assistant special teams coach Nick (Sunshine) Sorensen

ex-Rams cut: CB Danny Gorrer (prior to final cut)
interesting player cut: K Connor Barth
ex-Rams on roster: CB Quinton Pointer
ex-Rams on coaching staff: head coach Lovie Smith, cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd, senior defensive assistant YOU MUST BE KIDDING ME LARRY MARMIE STILL HAS A JOB IN THE NFL?!

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting player cut: WR Marc Mariani, a kick returner who roomed in college with one of Jeff Fisher's kids
ex-Rams on roster: none
ex-Rams on coaching staff: running backs coach Sylvester Croom

ex-Rams cut: none
interesting players cut: RBs Lache Seastrunk and Evan Royster
ex-Rams on roster: none.
ex-Rams on coaching staff: defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, outside LBs coach Brian Baker

Other ex-Rams:
* I cannot find an official announcement, but London Fletcher retired this past spring. He was the final member of the Super Bowl XXXIV champions still playing.
* Ryan Pickett's contract ran out in Green Bay last season. He appeared in all 16 games and had 21 tackles. No other team has expressed interest. With B.J. Raji out for the season, maybe Ryan can make a comeback and dislodge Steven Jackson as the league's senior ex-Ram.
* Will Witherspoon is not officially retired to my knowledge but is now the sideline reporter on Rams radio broadcasts. Former 7th-round pick Derek Stanley has been part of the pregame and postgame shows on radio.
* Harvey Dahl, cut by the Rams in March, may still be recovering from hip surgery. As recently as the start of training camp, Jeff Fisher said the door is left open for Dahl to return to the Rams.
* Danario Alexander tore an ACL in training camp last year. After having had five surgeries on his left knee, it was his right knee that blew out this time. Alexander's right knee is catching up to his left knee quickly. Due to infection, it's been operated on multiple times since the original injury last August. He has run a youth football camp in Texas the last two years.
* Quintin Mikell is all but officially retired. He suffered a foot injury, believed to be a Lisfranc fracture, in Carolina's playoff loss to San Francisco and had surgery on it a couple of months ago.
* Gary Gibson appeared in 13 games for the Bucs last year with three tackles. No expressed interest around the league.
* Paris Lenon, 35, the last XFL player still playing in the NFL, had 22 tackles in 14 games for Denver in 2013. The Broncos have gone much younger at MLB.
* Bryan Kehl had 5 tackles in 5 games for Washington last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury. No sign he's returning.
* Richie Incognito was reinstated by the league last week. He has already had a visit with the Buccaneers and there are rumors swirling about interest from the Colts.
* Adam Carriker, who has missed the last 30 games due to quad injuries, has been physically cleared to play but hasn't found any takers.
* Andrew Helmick only played in the final regular-season game and his only stat was a tackle, but it was enough to make him an Arena League champion. The Arizona Rattlers beat Cleveland to win their third straight Arena Bowl last weekend. Joe Gibbs, not the coach but a tackle who was also in St. Louis for a training camp, appeared in 6 games for the Rattlers, with 3 catches, interestingly.

A couple of coaches I was curious about:
* Former defensive coordinator Ron Meeks took last season off to be a volunteer coach for his son's high school football team.
* Another former defensive coordinator, Tim Walton, does not appear to be working in football at the moment. He addressed the team at his old high school in Columbus, Ga. a couple of weeks ago.

Phew.

-$-

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cutdown to 53 (final)

The Rams' final cuts to reach the 53-man roster limit are complete:

WR Emory Blake - as projected. Very likely to go to practice squad.
G Travis Bond - as projected
DE Kourtnei Brown - as projected
CB Christian Bryant - as projected
DT Matt Conrath - as projected
DB Avery Cunningham - as projected
WR Austin Franklin - as projected. Seems like a good pick for the PS.
QB Garrett Gilbert - I assume this means the Rams have a veteran QB lined up? Honestly, if it's just Brady Quinn or something, why not just keep Gilbert? Two more things I think: going with 2 QBs on the main roster will be a bad idea, and Gilbert should make it to the Rams' practice squad.
DT Deantre Harlan - as projected. Rams may need a little luck to get him back to the PS.
LB Aaron Hill - as projected
T Sean Hooey - as projected
CB Greg Reid - unlike my projection, looks like the Rams will keep Austin Pettis. For now. Reid should be on a PS somewhere, hopefully here. He's rallied quite nicely from two lost seasons and some off-field problems.
DE Michael Sam - as ORIGINALLY projected before I fell for all the NFL Network press conference hoopla. Rams are already saying they intend to bring Sam back on the PS.
LB Etienne Sabino - as projected
TE Brad Smelley - as projected
LB Phillip Steward - I had a feeling. The Rams usually carried only 5 LBs last year.
OL Mitchell Van Dyk - as projected. 7th round pick should make practice squad if they want him.
WR Justin Veltung - as projected
OL Brandon Washington - as projected
LB Lawrence Wilson - as projected. I hope he makes it to the PS here. Played quite well.
CB Darren Woodard - I picked the wrong corner. Looks like Marcus Roberson is in as a UDFA. Hey, I gave him a 50% chance when they signed him.

RamView went 16 for 21 on this cut (10 for 14 in the first cutdown). My misses:
* Alex Bayer - He and Justice Cunningham are aboard the final roster for now. I had Bayer on the practice squad.
* Marcus Roberson - From my observing, I had Roberson a very close third to Reid and Woodard. Of course, the coaches get to see a lot more of the DBs than I do.
* Barrett Jones - in my defense, hard to make predictions about Jones with the near-complete lack of information about his physical condition. Maybe he's close.
* Trey Watts - hooray for Watts, though, he completely deserves to be on the roster. Heck, he should be RB3 ahead of Tre Mason.
* Austin Pettis - well, keeping 4 WRs like I did in my projection was probably a bad idea.

It seems obvious there are still moves pending. To the press there, I'd appreciate a question about Jones and a question about why the Rams have FIVE TEs somewhere amidst the two billion questions about Michael Sam. Thanks.

-$-

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cutdown to 53 (projected)

An early stab at the last round of cuts. We may not hear anything from the Rams until after 3 p.m. Friday, according to Les Snead on TV, so the suspense may hang till Saturday.

TE Alex Bayer (PS) - Justice Cunningham over Bayer for his run-blocking.
WR Emory Blake (PS) - Didn't make enough plays that were there for him to make.
G Travis Bond - Way too many pass protection breakdowns.
DE Kourtnei Brown - Too lightweight against the run.
S Christian Bryant (PS) - Late start in camp set him back.
DT Matt Conrath - Missed time with injuries and Rams are just too deep.
CB Avery Cunningham - always low on the depth chart and made dumb special teams mistakes.
WR Austin Franklin (PS) - Not a lost cause if he can get himself coached up.
DT Deontre Harlan (PS) - Flashed quite a bit. Would have made this team easily two years ago.
LB Aaron Hill - Had a couple of flashes but was never high on the depth chart.
T Sean Hooey - time to cut bait. Two years in without enough sign he's developing as a pass protector.
OL Barrett Jones (IR) - Too many roster needs to float a spot for the constantly injured lineman.
WR Austin Pettis - I'm probably wrong and Pettis is probably WR5 till Bailey's suspension ends, but he sure did nothing this summer.
CB Marcus Roberson (PS) - I kept too many DBs, 11, initially. Somebody's got to go. Greg Reid has upside as an emergency returner, though he could go if the Rams keep Pettis. Darren Woodard made some plays.
LB Etienne Sabino - Made a decent argument for himself in Miami.
TE Brad Smelley - fullback with blocking issues = does not compute.
OL Mitchell Van Dyk (PS)- looks overmatched by professional defensive players.
WR Justin Veltung - no impact as a receiver and did little on returns.
OL Brandon Washington (PS) - Really disappointing at tackle tonight after I'd thought he had a better shot at making the squad.
RB Trey Watts (PS) - This one's killing me, because I think Watts has outplayed Tre Mason. Does he do anything on special teams?
LB Lawrence Wilson (PS) - Sleeper to make the roster. Made a lot of nice plays in games and scrimmages.

My likeliest errors will be: going with 3 QBs, going with only 4 WRs, going with 6 LBs, going with 6 corners.

* Late change to put Roberson on the cut list and take off Michael Sam, upon hearing that the Rams and NFL Network are conspiring to have an extra-special announcement about Sam right at the cut deadline tomorrow.


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Monday, August 25, 2014

Cutdown to 75 - final

The Rams completed the cutdown to 75 Tuesday by cutting DE Sammy Brown and safety Matt Daniels. They are both promising athletes who flashed ability at their positions, but neither could stay healthy remotely long enough to make a lasting impact.

The Rams cut the following ten players Monday:
CB Jarrid Bryant
P/K Bobby Cowan
T R.J. Dill
WR Jordan Harris
LS Jorgen Hus
FB Kadeem Jones
LB Johnny Millard
WR T.J. Moe
OL D.J. Morrell
LB Pat Schiller (released injured)

The final moves to get to the 75-man limit were to put Sam Bradford and Demetrius Rhaney on injured reserve, joining Isaiah Pead.

The Rams will have to cut another 22 after Thursday night's game, though I'll mention for the first time here that they get to carry ten players on the practice squad this year.

-$-

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Injury epidemic for Rams in first half in Cleveland

* Sam Bradford was knocked out of tonight's game in the opening series. Armonty Bryant grabbed him just after he threw - not a dirty play, Bryant let up - and got Bradford's weight funny on the same left knee Sam tore the ACL in last season. The TV crew's guess, a reasonable one, is that the knee got hyperextended. Bradford went to the ground without it looking like he'd been hit very hard.

Rams are tight-lipped right now, just saying "injured left knee" and Bradford will not return. Austin Davis was brought into the game suspiciously early for Shaun Hill, though.

Sam Bradford is out for the season; torn ACL, same one that ended his 2013 season.

* Rodger Saffold left the game with a sprained ankle. Phil Taylor went down on a running play and rolled up on Rodger's leg. Saffold walked off under his own power, leaving me hopeful it was a low sprain. A high sprain would cost Rodger significant time. Just lousy luck for Saffold, not a lot of people on earth are going to get away unscathed when a 350-pounder crashes into the side of their leg.

Much better news here than expected; Saffold could play Thursday night. Looked like that ankle got bent pretty good on TV.

* Trumaine Johnson had to be carted off in the 2nd. Daren Bates blew a tackle on a running play, and in that act, drove his helmet smack into TruJo's knee.

Yeah, who saw Greg Reid as an opening day starter? Or E.J. Gaines?

UPDATE: Johnson has a sprained MCL, will be out at least six weeks.
2nd UPDATE: 4-6 weeks. 

* Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford have left the game with minor injuries, though I haven't heard confirmation on Langford's.

Brockers and Langford are possible for Thursday night.

Holy crap. Preseason games aren't just useless, they're dangerous, and in the Rams' case, may have already wrecked the season before it begins, though they could always rally behind Shaun Hill and play good football.

More injury updates as I see them. I'm still working the end of the first half on the DVR. Rams were leading 20-0 at the 2:00 warning, as if that freaking matters.

-$-