Rams could hire coach this week

With the roster of candidates whittled to three, the St. Louis Rams will conduct their final follow-up interview Wednesday, and almost certainly will choose the successor to Mike Martz by the end of the week, team and league sources said.

Two candidates with impressive offensive credentials, coordinators Scott Linehan of Miami and Cam Cameron of San Diego, each met for a second time with Rams officials on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera will be in Los Angeles, where the Rams are conducting the second round of interviews, to huddle with club management.

Rivera met last week with the Rams and, while he was said to have been impressive, he was not as detailed as the others in his ideas for staffing. That, plus the fact the Rams now seem to favor hiring a coach with an offensive background after originally leaning toward defense, could mean Rivera has some ground to make up on the other candidates.

The consensus around the league is that Linehan and Cameron are very close in consideration as the Rams continue to deliberate the strengths and weaknesses of all the candidates.

Despite reports that Kansas City offensive coordinator Al Saunders might be a late entry into the St. Louis coaching derby, Rams sources said he will not be interviewed. The new coach, one high-ranking official emphasized late Tuesday night, will come from the trio of men invited to Los Angeles for the second round of talks.

If that is the case, the Rams will become the fifth team to hire a first-time head coach rather than one with prior experience. Of the five teams that have chosen new coaches in the past week, including the New Orleans Saints, who will introduce Dallas offensive coordinator Sean Payton on Wednesday as their new coach, only the Chiefs' Herman Edwards had previously been an NFL head coach.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.