5 Questions St. Louis Rams Must Answer During Training Camp

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5 Questions St. Louis Rams Must Answer During Training Camp

5 Questions St. Louis Rams Must Answer During Training Camp
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams have been in rebuilding mode for several years now. The plan started when they took quarterback Sam Bradford no. 1 overall in 2010, and continued this spring when they made Tavon Austin the eighth overall selection in this year's draft.

Those two offensive playmakers, along with free agent signings Jake Long at left tackle and tight end Jared Cook, are the cornerstones of what the Rams hope to be one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL this year.

That offense will be complimented by a defense quickly rounding into a solid unit. The Rams were 14th in total defense last year and were tied for first in sacks with 52. They can get after the quarterback, and that's the most important part of playing defense today.

All the pieces would appear to be in place for the Rams to make a run at the playoffs in 2013, but while they were rebuilding, so was the rest of their division.

The NFC West was the worst division in the league only three years ago when they sent a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team to the playoffs. Now the Seahawks are a real contender, not to mention the two-time defending division champion San Francisco 49ers went to the Super Bowl last year.

That competition in the division makes it unlikely the Rams will make the playoffs this year, but if they can answer these five questions during training camp, they'll make it awfully tough to keep them out.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Do They Have A Running Back?

Running Back
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, that's kind of an odd question. I know they not only have a running back, but in fact have several. But what I want to know is whether or not they have one that will actually make a difference this year.

There are several veterans without much experience and one rookie vying for the job as top back in town. Daryl Richardson is probably the favorite heading into camp, but recent draft picks Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy will both get a chance to show what they can do.

The Rams let Steven Jackson go this spring and they will probably not really find an answer to this question until after this year. It's most likely the running back spot will be a revolving door all season. But if one of the ball carriers can take the job by the reins, then the Rams will take that next step and be one of the better offenses in the league.

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4. Do They Have Enough Depth?

Depth
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes it all comes down to the details. That's true for a lot of things, and it can be true for football teams too.

Like so many young, rebuilding squads, the Rams have players they think could be the future leaders of the team. But what they don’t have is the role players — the guys to fill in the cracks.

The Rams will need young players to step up and provide depth at positions like offensive line, linebacker and safety.

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3. Was Jake Long Worth $34 Million?

Jake Long
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If you told me that one NFL team was going to be able to put two recent no. 1 overall picks on the same team, not to mention the same side of the ball, I would have told you it was a home run move.

But that was before you told me they were two of the most perplexing no. 1 overall picks in recent memory. Neither quarterback Sam Bradford or left tackle Jake Long have been outright busts like, say, JaMarcus Russel, but they haven’t quite lived up to their hype either.

All eyes will be on Long this year after the Rams invested $34 million in the offensive lineman this past offseason. If he can stay healthy, and more importantly keep Bradford upright and healthy, he'll be the best investment the Rams have made in a long time.

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2. Are They Too Young?

Too Young
Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams have been a team in rebuilding mode for several years, so it's no surprise that they head into training camp this year with a lot of young players on the team. But, if they want to take a step forward and compete against the bullies of the NFC West this fall, they might need some more veteran experience then they have.

The NFL is becoming a young player's league, especially with the latest collective bargaining agreement, but the Rams take that to the next level. They currently have only one player on their roster with double digit years of experience in the league, center Scott Wells with 10.

The young players on the squad are going to need to step up big time for the Rams to have a successful year in 2013.

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1. Will Sam Bradford Live Up To Expectations?

Sam Bradford
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, it all comes down to quarterback. I've written a few of these columns in the past couple weeks and it always seems to come down to the quarterbacks, and there may be no quarterback with more to prove in 2013 than Sam Bradford.

The former no. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft and Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Oklahoma, Bradford has been a work in progress his first three years in the league. But now, heading into his fourth campaign, the time for patience is over.

If the Rams are going to exceed expectations and make the playoffs in 2013, it will be because Sam Bradford turns into a true franchise quarterback.


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