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On the Clock: St. Louis Rams

4/7/2007 - St. Louis Rams

Through April 20, "SportsCenter" will put every NFL team "On The Clock." Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.

Second-year head coach Scott Linehan believes that a solid foundation was established after the Rams finished 8-8 last season. The Rams ended the regular season with a three-game winning streak while staying in the hunt for the playoffs until the final weekend. Even though the Rams have an explosive offense, they were very aggressive in free agency, strengthening the supporting cast around QB Marc Bulger with the additions of WR Drew Bennett and TE Randy McMichael. On top of that, RB Steven Jackson is starting to hit the prime of his career after finishing last season with 2,334 yards from scrimmage, the most in the NFL, and 16 touchdowns. Also, the Rams have one of the top receivers in the game in Torry Holt. However, for the Rams to gain ground in the NFC West and get back to the playoffs, they must play with more consistency on defense. They finished last season ranked 31st against the run.

Key additions
Bennett (Titans) and McMichael (Dolphins) should add a unique dimension to the Rams' explosive arsenal. Bennett has excellent size, hands and skills, but has had durability concerns over the last few seasons. McMichael is a tough, dependable player who places a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with his speed and athleticism. The Rams also signed backup RB Travis Minor (Dolphins), who excelled on special teams last season. Defensively, the Rams acquired DE James Hall in a trade with the Lions. Hall is an undersized defensive end who has shown good production over his career when rushing the passer. OLB Chris Draft (Panthers) was a solid addition based on his versatility. The Rams also signed SS Todd Johnson (Bears), and CBs Lenny Walls (Chiefs) and Mike Rumph (Redskins) to add depth and experience to their secondary.

Key losses
The Rams lost wide receivers Kevin Curtis (Eagles) and Shaun McDonald (Lions). Curtis was the Rams' No. 3 receiver last season and finished fourth on the team in receptions with 40. McDonald had his share of big plays in three seasons but struggled with consistency. They also released starting RG Adam Timmerman, who had been a mainstay on the offensive line since he signed with the Rams as an unrestricted free agent in 1999. Defensively, starting RCB Travis Fisher signed with the Lions, while backup DT Jason Fisk is expected to retire after 13 years in the NFL. Backup OLB Dexter Coakley was released.

Remaining questions
Defense, Defense, Defense. With the No. 13 pick, the Rams must find an impact player who can upgrade a defensive unit that really struggled stopping the run. They also need to add a pass rusher to complement Leonard Little and Hall. The Rams will continue to address the depth at linebacker while looking for a frontline starting corner opposite Tye Hill. Offensively, the Rams have the personnel to keep a lot of defensive coordinators up late at night. However, they will look to address the backup running back position with a change-of-pace back opposite Jackson.