As I mentioned last night, Van Ram from Turf Show Times and myself exchanged questions about tonight's pre-season contest between the Rams and the beloved Purple. I've just received his responses to my questions, and they can be found right here. The questions I asked him will be in bold, while his responses will be in italics. When he posts my responses to his questions at TST, I'll link the post from here.
1) The last time Viking fans saw the Rams, they were stomping a mudhole in Minnesota to the tune of 41-21. What's the biggest difference between the Rams team that will take the field Friday night and the team from Week 17 of 2006?
I'm too lax in my duties to go back and check it, but I believe that was the best performance from the Rams defense all season, given that they were able to hold the Vikings to just 83 yards rushing when teams' fourth RBs ran for career days against the Rams all season. The Rams have really made an effort to upgrade the D-line. Number one pick, Adam Carriker has been impressing campers this summer by showing some real prowess at NT after converting from a DE at Nebraska. Additions like DE James Hall and LB Chris Draft along with higher expectations from young guys like DT Claude Wroten are being heavily counted upon to give the Rams some solid consistency among the front 7. On the other side of the ball, the additions of WR Drew Bennett, TE Randy McMichael, and second round pick RB/FB Brian Leonard are meant to boost the Rams red zone presence and take luck out of the equation.
2) The Rams have already made the decision to move top pick Adam Carriker inside to DT rather than play him at DE. How has he looked so far, and what kind of impact do you think he'll have on the Rams' defense?
I think everyone expected him to be ok, but reports out of camp have his play at DT dropping jaws around the league. ESPN's John Clayton called him "a beast." I think his attitude, drive, and a great mind for the game have made it much easier for him than it would be for a lot of players. He really should help elevate the defense to the middle tier of the league. His first job is to bolster the run defense, but I think we'll be seeing him playing an increasing role on blitzes too.
3) What position battles will you and your fellow Rams fans be keeping your eyes on tonight and for the rest of training camp?
Our camp hasn't had too many position battles of significance. The main one being at center, with Andy McCollum and Brett Romberg battling it out. McCollum's 37 and dealt with injuries last year; a combination of Incognito (now at guard) and Romberg filled in well and the O-line didn't miss a beat. McCollum's got the experience and has been outstanding in camp, so for now he got his old job back. We'll take the depth.
The other big battle of note is in the defensive backfield. With Fakhir Brown likely suspended for four games for not being home for his league mandated drug test, Ron Bartell steps into his spot leaving a battle between Lenny Walls and third round pick Jonathan Wade for to battle it out for the third CB spot. We thought Walls had it, but Wade's looked really good in camp. This battle is far from settled.
4) What's the general impression from Rams fans about former Minnesota offensive coordinator and current St. Louis head coach Scott Linehan?
Well, the Rams have lost some fans after a few down seasons. Last year, people we're willing to give him a chance, and I think were much happier once he handed over play calling duties to offensive coordinator Greg Olsen. Fans seem to like where things are headed though, and Linehan gets a lot of deserved credit for opening a new chapter for the team.
5) Which is harder to put into words. . .how excited you are that football is back, or just how terrible Jimmy Kennedy was in St. Louis before he was dealt?
Depends, which word has more synonyms, terrible or excited?
Update [2007-8-10 15:23:51 by Gonzo]:
The responses I gave to the questions from TST can now be found here at their site.
4 1/2 hours until kickoff. . .woo-hoo!!