Predicting the St. Louis Rams’ 2014 Starters

Predicting St. Louis Rams' 2014 Starters

St. Louis Rams roster
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The St. Louis Rams will likely be the NFL’s youngest team for the third season in a row when the 2014 campaign kicks off. Despite their cumulative youth across the roster, the team will have some elevated expectations entering the third year of Jeff Fisher’s tenure as head coach off of a second consecutive season near the .500 mark. Here’s what the starters should look like when the team hits the field Week 1.

QB – Sam Bradford

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QB – Sam Bradford

St. Louis Rams roster
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As much as it pains me, Sam Bradford has been pledged to as the starter under center for the Rams in 2014 and beyond. He did show progress before an ACL tear last season, so hopefully the growth continues without any additional injury issues this year. Kellen Clemens is gone, but veteran Shaun Hill is a comparable replacement as the backup should Bradford go down yet again.

RB – Zac Stacy

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RB – Zac Stacy

St. Louis Rams roster
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Zac Stacy will look to build on a ridiculous rookie year that came out of nowhere as the fifth-rounder from Vanderbilt nearly gained 1,000 yards in just 11 games. The team should be focused on running the ball to open up the aerial attack this year if Brian Schottenheimer knows what’s good for his job security. Rookie Tre Mason will likely beat out Isaiah Pead for the second-string role in the backfield.

WR – Kenny Britt and Chris Givens

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WR – Kenny Britt and Chris Givens

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Coach Fisher recruited another former Tennessee Titan in Kenny Britt to St. Louis this offseason, and he will add some physicality to a rather diminutive receiving corps with Chris Givens and Tavon Austin making up the other two likely starters. Brian Quick and Austin Pettis will likely have a last gasp effort and trying to fend off Stedman Bailey for the fourth wideout role.

TE – Jared Cook

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TE – Jared Cook

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A scorching start mellowed out for Jared Cook as the year went along and his first year in St. Louis was ultimately rather lackluster. The team needs to get the high-priced veteran involved in the offense more this season to justify that big contract. It’s also likely that Lance Kendricks’ time is up after not showing much during his stint with the Rams.

OT – Jake Long (LT) and Greg Robinson (RT)

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OT – Jake Long (LT) and Greg Robinson (RT)

St. Louis Rams roster
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This projection is obviously somewhat optimistic given Jake Long’s ACL and MCL tears in December, but if he is ready to go in Week 1 this duo will be scary. Greg Robinson is a mauler of a tackle with dominating run blocking skills whereas Long is more of the pass protecting half of the two. There’s no doubt the Rams would love to have both of them in the trenches for the bulk of the 2014 season.

G – Brandon Washington (LG) and Rodger Saffold (RG)

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G – Brandon Washington (LG) and Rodger Saffold (RG)

St. Louis Rams roster
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It’s still uncertain what the Rams plan on doing at left guard, but Rodger Saffold has Pro Bowl potential at right guard. Brandon Washington is penciled in as the starter currently, but Barrett Jones could push him in training camp for the spot. Competition is always a good thing, and the Rams hope it inspires better play from their interior line this coming season.

C – Scott Wells

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C – Scott Wells

St. Louis Rams roster
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Injuries have plagued Scott Wells’ first two seasons with the Rams, but hopefully the third is a charm in 2014. St. Louis could use a steady center snapped the pigskin to Sam Bradford this coming season, and having a healthy Wells would certainly help reinvigorate their ground game as well.

DE – Chris Long and Robert Quinn

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DE – Chris Long and Robert Quinn

St. Louis Rams roster
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It’s hard to do much better than this duo as far as pass rushers are concerned. Chris Long and Robert Quinn are absolute animals on the outside, and the Rams will turn them loose on the fast indoor track against opposing defenses in the upcoming season. Look for both guys to reach the double-digit sack plateau this coming season as this defensive line just gets scarier.

DT – Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald

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DT – Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald

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Speaking of getting scarier up front on defense, the addition of Aaron Donald to Michael Brockers on the interior defensive line is just ridiculous. Add in Kendall Langford as a great rotational body now and this defense becomes a quarterback’s worst nightmare. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a breakout campaign from Brockers in his third year, and Donald could easily provide a serious jolt as well given his impressive burst off the line.

OLB – Alec Ogletree and Jo-Lonn Dunbar

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OLB – Alec Ogletree and Jo-Lonn Dunbar

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The Rams saw flashes of superstar ability from linebacker Alec Ogletree in his rookie season, but Jo-Lonn Dunbar came back down to earth following a PED suspension to begin the year. Year two will undoubtedly be a by stepping stone for Ogletree in his development while the team hopes Dunbar can simply be a solid placeholder until a younger, more impressive replacement can be found.

ILB – James Laurinaitis

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ILB – James Laurinaitis

St. Louis Rams roster
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Death, taxes and James Laurinaitis racking up 100 or more tackles are the only certainties in life. This guy just keeps churning out productive seasons for a defense that is steadily improving around him. Despite all of the turmoil and coaching changes over the past half-decade, Laurinaitis has been a rock in the middle of the St. Louis defense; don’t expect that to change in 2014.

CB – Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson

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CB – Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson

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The real changing of the guard on defense will take place in the secondary with Cortland Finnegan out at corner while Trumaine Johnson joins Janoris Jenkins on the edge. Lamarcus Joyner will likely see a great deal of action as a rookie in the nickel role, and he may even mix in at safety occasionally depending on how the free safety spot plays out in camp.

FS – Rodney McLeod

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FS – Rodney McLeod

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That’s where Rodney McLeod will enter the year as the starter, but he really wasn’t much to write home about a year ago. The Rams have to be looking for improvement on the back end of the defense in 2014 after several coverage lapses cost them games a season ago. If McLeod doesn’t perform as expected, the rookie Joyner will put on a steady push for playing time.

SS – T.J. McDonald

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SS – T.J. McDonald

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Despite a broken leg costing him half of his rookie campaign, T.J. McDonald showed the Rams that their decision to draft him was a good one. The young man with an NFL pedigree will enter this season as the unquestioned starter and will provide a great deterrence to opposing wideouts over the middle. Look for his presence alone to cause some drops and second-guessing by receivers this coming season.

Special Teams

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Special Teams

St. Louis Rams roster
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Greg Zuerlein and Johnny Hekker are perhaps the best young kicker/punter duo in the NFL these days. Legatron should get a Pro Bowl nod soon, and his counterpart has already been invited on behalf of the NFC. Tavon Austin should be returning everything if possible just due to his electric potential, but Benny Cunningham will likely join him on the kick return team.

Anthony Blake is a Senior Writer/Copy Editor for Rant Sports. You Can Follow Him on Twitter, on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.


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