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NFL St Louis Rams

5 Most Irreplaceable Players For The St. Louis Rams

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St. Louis Rams' 5 Most Irreplaceable Players

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams are looking like a much improved team heading in to the 2013 season. Head coach Jeff Fisher has been building this team for nearly two years now, and they look like they could start competing this season.

The Rams let running back Steven Jackson go via free agency in the offseason. Jackson had been the best offensive player on the Rams for many years. As productive as Jackson was in St. Louis, the Rams felt comfortable letting him walk due to the depth that they have at the position. The Rams are probably going to fill the running back hole with some sort of a timeshare. Second year RBs Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson will split time with rookie Zac Stacy. It is unknown exactly how the backfield will shake out, but I think the Rams will use all of their options at RB.

With Jackson leaving town, quarterback Sam Bradford is expected to be counted on more in the offense. The Rams added some nice receiving options for Bradford this offseason and he now has a young and athletic receiving corps to throw the ball to. Guys like Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Jared Cook and Austin Pettis may be unproven, but they are undoubtedly talented and make up a deep receiving group for the Rams.

Defensively, the Rams have been improving rapidly. They did not make any big changes on defense over the offseason, but this young unit should improve this season. They are stocked with talent at many different positions and should be able to hold their own.

I think the Rams have a very solid roster. I love what Fisher is doing and think that it will start to come together this season. That being said, the Rams play in the NFC West, which is considered by many to be the best division in football. The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks appear to be among the best teams in all of football. It will certainly be a tough road to get there, but I think the Rams have a shot at the playoffs this season if they stay healthy. Their core guys must be able to stay on the field. Here are the five most irreplaceable players for the Rams.

Daniel is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer and add him to your network on Google.

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Tavon Austin

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As deep as the receiving corps in St. Louis is, Austin is irreplaceable because he brings such a dynamic skill set to the table. Austin was drafted 8th overall by the Rams this offseason, and he is the most explosive player in the draft class. He can line up all over the field and use his elite speed and athleticism to create mismatches for the defense. I think Austin will be used as a decoy at times to open up the field for his teammates. I think the Rams offense is much better with Austin on the field, even if he is not catching a ton of balls.

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Sam Bradford

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It is time for Bradford to prove it. He has had a disappointing career so far, but to be fair, the Rams have not surrounded him with much talent. Well, that changes this season as the St. Louis offense appears to be loaded and ready for Bradford to take them to the next level. This is a classic make-or-break type of season for Bradford. I think he is up to the challenge, but Bradford would be a very tough piece to replace if he is not.

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James Laurinaitis

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James Laurinaitis is the leader of the Rams defense. He has started every game during his four-year NFL career. Laurinaitis is a tackling machine and solid pass defender. His five sacks last season were a nice surprise and adds another dimension to his game. Laurinatis' leadership and exceptional play on the field is completely irreplaceable.

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Chris Long

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Long has played in every single game of his five-year career and is also a big leader for the Rams on defense. Long has really started to turn it on as a pass rusher, with 13 and 11.5 sacks in the past two seasons respectively. He is a high motor player that not only excels in the pass rush but is solid against the run. Long is a very important piece to the success of the Rams.

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Jake Long

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams signed Jake Long in the offseason to help protect Bradford. Long was once considered one of the best offensive lineman in the game. He has seemed to slip the past couple of seasons, but the Rams are expecting him to get back to his old ways. Long is still a very good pass protector and is an essential piece to the puzzle in St. Louis.