St. Louis Rams: 5 Players Who Will Shine in Week 2
Which St. Louis Rams Will Contribute in Week 2?
Following a Week 1 win over the Arizona Cardinals that came a bit tougher than the team probably anticipated, the St. Louis Rams will need to be on their A-game as they face the fearsome Atlanta Falcons in their first away game of 2013.
With all due respect to the Cardinals, the Rams will have to contend with many more impact players than they did in their season opener. For starters, the team features one of the most dynamic passing attacks in the league, with quarterback Matt Ryan having three different elite receiving options in Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. To make things even more interesting, the team has now added former Ram Steven Jackson to lead their rushing attack. With the exception of one 50-yard run, Jackson was rather underwhelming, averaging just 2.7 yards over his other 10 carries and dropping a pass that could have given the Falcons the win.
The Falcons' defense is a force to be reckoned with as well, with outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon leading the way. Though inconsistent, the team's two cornerbacks, rookie Desmond Trufant and veteran Asante Samuel, have the ability to be game-changers as well.
If there's one big advantage that the Rams have over the Falcons, it's the amount of advance scouting that they will have at their disposal. Rams general manager Les Snead and several members of his advisory staff were instrumental in acquiring many of the Falcons' players, and have good knowledge of their tendencies and styles. Offensive line coach Paul Boudreau largely assembled the Falcons' current starting line, so he should have some inside knowledge as to how to get to them. And obviously, with Jackson having spent such a large part of his career with the Rams, the team should have a pretty good grasp of how to get to him.
Here are five Rams who have a good chance to step up as the Rams face the Falcons in Week 2.
5. Jared Cook, TE
Due to the talent and athleticism of the Falcons' safeties and outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, Cook likely won't be able to make as big of an impact as he did in Week 1, when he repeatedly torched Cardinals defenders and finished the day with seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. That being said, Cook seems to be developing into one of Sam Bradford's favorite receiving options, and he should still be able to collect a few catches in Week 2.
4. Chris Givens, WR
Givens will likely have a greater chance to contribute in Week 2, since none of the cornerbacks covering him this week will be as elite as Arizona's Patrick Peterson, who limited him to two catches for 27 yards last week. This week, look for the Rams to try to match up Givens with rookie Desmond Trufant and try to expose him by throwing the long ball.
3. Tavon Austin, WR
Though many fans were disappointed by Austin's lack of impact plays last week, they should be able to get more excited about the first-rounder when he goes up against the Falcons. Austin, who had six catches for 41 yards last week, very closely fits the profile of New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles. The Falcons could not find a way to stop Sproles last week, and he ended up being one of the most important players in the Saints' victory, racking up 140 all-purpose yards. The Rams should be planning to get the ball to Austin in as many different ways as possible and hope that he can break something loose.
2. Alec Ogletree, OLB
Ogletree was serviceable in his regular-season debut last week, but he really needs to step it up and become an impact player if the Rams are going to hang with the Falcons. His two main responsibilities will be helping to shut down tight end Tony Gonzalez and shutting down the Falcons' rushing attack. Ogletree showed in the Rams' preseason matchup with the Denver Broncos that he has serious playmaking ability when going against a big-time passing attack, and it would help him to show more of that ability this week.
1. Chris Long, DE
Long did not make much of an impact last week, leaving no mark on the box score except for a singular tackle and a defended pass. It's possible that he may still have been feeling the effects of an injury that kept him out of practice early last week. This week, Long has a good opportunity to break out while facing Falcons right tackle Lamar Holmes, who will be making just his second career start. Long is expected to be in an intense competition with fellow end Robert Quinn for the Rams' sack lead, so he will need to put up some numbers this week if he wants to keep pace with Quinn, who already registered three takedowns last week.