Rounding up the Herd: Monday Links

Nice week coming up, building up to the Rams’ next preseason game against the Falcons — their only true test against an NFL-caliber offensive line. I’ve got some Q-and-A with the Rams observer from Pro Football Focus coming up this week, something that I hope will be a regular feature on the site. In the meantime, here’s some links on the state of the Rams, including the latest on Marc Bulger:

Nick Wagoner: Bulger to miss 1-2 preseason games with fractured pinky.

Quoted: Bulger has a splint on his ring finger and has the pinkie taped up against it. Only time will heal the injury and that is expected to take about two weeks. (Ed: Oddly, my 8-year-old daughter had the same injury. Took a couple of weeks, and now she’s throwing tight spirals and perfect fly patterns. No worries.)

Sando: Rams’ investment in Boller gets an early test.

Presumably, Keith Null will be getting snaps with the second team offense, with Brock Berlin feeling the effects of last week’s hit. Could be that Boller and Null each get a half’s worth of work against Atlanta.

Bill Coats: A spotlight on Null after his eye-opening preseason play.

Quoted: “It was crazy … unbelievable,” said Null, a product of NCAA Division II West Texas A&M. “That’s the first time I’ve been on the field in a stadium that big.”

Also in the Coats’ feature, a look at the Rams’ dwindling crop of healthy pass catchers, and continued “stay the course” from Spagnuolo. Publicly, the Rams have no interest in signing more receivers into camp. This could spell big opportunity for players like Sean Walker and Ronald Curry.

RamsGab: Running Backs judged (harshly) after Preseason Game 1

In Sunday’s practice, Gado was getting reps with the first team, while Darby was demoted to third-team offense. A bit of a tough sentence, given that Darby was constantly run to the left, behind the lead-footed Alex Barron, and straight into traffic. Though given his problems with blitz pickup, perhaps not an unwarranted move. I’m hesitant to get excited about Gado, though, who is not a full-season type of player.

TurfShowTimes: Game Rewind: a look at the tape of Preseason Game 1

Quoted: One reason why you didn’t hear James Laurinaitis’s name more often: he came out of the game on a lot of passing downs. In fact, he only played in the 4-3 and split time with Draft when the Rams went to the Nickel (one less LB, one more DB) which was often in this game.

Also listed is a close look at the hammering that Jacob Bell took on the game’s first play. He’s officially listed with a concussion, and should probably be rested for two weeks. Mark Setterstrom, the second-team center who had a big part in opening the hole for Samkon Gado’s 77-yard touchdown run, takes his place at left guard.

Bonus Reading…

Football Outsiders: A Requiem for Jim Johnson, and a close look at his against-the-grain defensive play-calling. Included: the Eagles’ defensive adjustments that almost allowed them to steal back the NFC Championship game against Kurt Warner and the Cardinals.

Quoted: Johnson’s pressure packages, like those of disciple Steve Spagnuolo when he was in New York, were not about bringing everyone all the time, making risky calls and allowing quarterbacks to break out of feast-or-famine rushes. Roethlisberger was attacked from all sides. Linebackers blew past his linemen right up the middle before he could even get his arm up to throw. Stunting linemen flew around the edges, forcing him to step up so that other linemen could punish him for doing so.