This weekend the Eagles take on the Rams on opening day for the second time under Andy Reid. Under Reid, the Eagles have faced the Rams 3 times in Philadelphia winning two of those contests. To get up to speed on all things St Louis Rams, I exchanged 5 questions with VanRam from the Rams' blog Turf Show Times.
The big national story around the Rams this offseason was the holdout of Stephen Jackson. He did finally sign a new deal and rejoin the team. What kind of shape is he in? Do you think he's fully ready to go?
He's reportedly in top-notch physical condition, after an intensive offseason program in anticipation of signing a big contract. He even had a colonic! Head coach Scott Linehan is saying Jackson is ready to go and will have a full workload. In reality, I think Antonio Pittman, who had a nice preseason in Jackson's stead, will get some of the 30 or so carries usually reserved for Steven Jackson. He's practiced with pads but not with game-level contact, so there could definitely be an adjustment there.
Another Eagles blogger commented on what he saw as a lack of Rams coverage in the local St Louis media. What is your response to that?
Well, you have to remember St. Louis isn't a big media market to being with, and the Rams are now starting to build more of an online media presence. However, the Cardinals own the city though in terms of fan dedication and media attention. They just choked up their playoff chances in the last week, and the Rams could steal away some of that attention with a solid start to the season. It doesn't help that the Rams haven't exactly given people here much to get excited about in the last few years, whereas the Eagles have been considered contenders for a few years now.
Hey... with places like Turf Show Times to get Rams news, who needs the MSM?
Who is the guy or guys on the Rams right now that we may not have heard of but you think will make a major impact this year?
I think WR Keenan Burton, a fourth round pick, will make some noise. He's already shown a familiarity with the playbook, no easy task with Al Saunders as the offensive coordinator, and has a skill set similar to the Packers' James Jones. Drew Bennett, the guy in front of him on the depth chart, hasn't played well, looking out of sync with Bulger. If he falters, Burton's ready to take his place. I think CB Tye Hill is primed for a breakout in his third season too.
I think it's safe to say that the biggest acquisition the Rams made this offseason was drafting Chris Long #2 overall. I've some mixed reports about his progress so far, where are you on Long as he prepares for his first game?
Like any rookie at a position like that, Long's dealing with some adjustment time. Remember how many people snidely snickered at the Texans for the Mario Williams pick in 2006, before he made 14 sacks in his second season? The Rams play a 4-3 and Long came from a 3-4 in college. He is, however, dedicated and has rarely made the same mistake twice through the preseason. He'll play well from the start, but he has to grow into being a "presence" on the field.
Finally, if you could steal one Eagle and add him to your roster who would it be?
A bit of surprise at the end there, but not a bad choice if you ask me...