NFL St Louis Rams

5 St. Louis Rams Players with Something to Prove in 2013 NFL Season

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5 St. Louis Rams Players with Something to Prove in 2013 NFL Season

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

In a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league like the NFL, at least the St. Louis Rams are in better standing than they were just entering last season. After winning just 15 games combined from 2007 to 2011, the Rams stepped it up a notch and finished 7-8-1 last year including impressive (dare I say) dominance in the NFC West going 4-1-1.

Despite the evidence that they are in fact a team on the rise, the Rams still have plenty to prove to the doubters in 2013. For a team that had such a difficult time avoiding the top two selections in the NFL Draft for such an extended period of time, the Rams must prove that they are now legit contenders. One season of going toe-to-toe with the leaders of the division doesn’t prove anything as far as consistency is concerned. This team has to show that it’s capable of doing that year in, year out.

They added some serious reinforcements to the roster this offseason, but even certain players on their roster are linked with a need to prove their worth this coming season. Some have battled injuries and must prove they can stay healthy, others just need to maintain consistency in their on-field performance, and there are some that must show they can stay out of trouble off the field.

Regardless of what they have to prove in the 2013 season, there is no shortage of questions facing a number of players on the Rams’ roster. Here they are, the five Rams players with something to prove in the upcoming NFL season.

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5. Sam Bradford

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You had to figure he would lead off the list. After being the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2010, Bradford has been mediocre in his tenure with the Rams. Now granted, much of his difficulties haven’t been entirely his fault, but this season he will be low on excuses. Entering his fourth season he will be expected to take on a leadership role and prove that he was worthy of that top selection by leading the team to a winning record – finally.

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4. Robert Quinn

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While it may seem silly that a guy who produced double-digit sacks a year ago still needs to prove himself, Quinn must show in his third NFL season that he is the player of 2012 and not the on again, off again rookie from 2011. Given the Rams’ stellar assembly of talent up front on the defensive line, Quinn should again find himself and Chris Long in position to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks on a regular basis.

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3. Alec Ogletree

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Rookie shouldn’t be required to prove their worth right off the bat, but were it not for off-field concerns with Ogletree, there’s no doubt he would have been a top half of the first round selection. Instead the Rams slid down to No. 30 overall and snagged the rangy linebacker “to be the guy” in the linebacking corps with James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Keeping his head on straight away from the field will be priority number one, and getting his play up to snuff to be a starter will be not far behind. Look for this kid to prove his worth in his first season at the NFL level.

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2. Janoris Jenkins

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One time is an anomaly, but twice can be considered a trend. Although Jenkins’ rookie year in 2012 didn’t come without a hiccup – see: Week 10 at San Francisco 49ers – he showed his talent during the season with three defensive touchdowns and four interceptions. Consistency will be the biggest question facing him as there were times a year ago where he couldn’t be beaten in coverage while there were others where he was picked on routinely. Jenkins must level out his on-field play in 2013 and avoid any off-field snafus as the same time.

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1. Jake Long

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Having an offensive lineman top any list may be looked at as somewhat suspect, but the Rams need Long to prove he was worth the cash the hemorrhaged to land him in the offseason. Four years, $36 million isn’t handed over without some serious expectations, and Long’s injury history coupled with his inconsistent play with the Miami Dolphins last season is worthy of concern. He will need to keep Bradford upright in the pocket so the offense can perform up to its capabilities this season. After a lengthy physical examination by the Rams prior to signing his deal back in March, it would also be helpful to see him play a full 16-game schedule for the first time since 2010.