Earlier this morning, we looked at how the key Rams rookies were faring after their first full week of practice. Now let’s look at some new veteran acquisitions brought in to shore up holes in the roster. These new signees have only had four days of practice so far, so file these thoughts under “very early impressions.”
Mike Sims-Walker: Bursts of excitement
Sims-Walker caught a 50-yard pass from Bradford on his second play of his first practice, and afterwards tweeted that he’s just getting started.
finally got my feet wet today on the field, a lil rusty at the beginning but my swag will be back in no time……
That said, MSW has been up and down so far on the Rams, shuttling back and forth between the 1st and 2nd team rotation of receivers, getting most of his work with A.J. Feeley on Sunday’s scrimmage. Brandon Gibson has been locking down one of the 1st team spots so far, but expect Sims-Walker to challenge.
Cadillac Williams: surprisingly fresh
Williams’ star as a pure runner has fallen considerably since his rookie season, but early in camp his legs look fresh and he looks like he could spot Steven Jackson for a game if necessary.
It will be interesting to see how much work he gets in the preseason, though, as the Rams often use Jackson sparingly in exhibition games. They may want to test Williams’ endurance. But any preliminary concerns that we acquired a “broken-down Cadillac” can be put to rest in the early going.
Jerious Norwood: Mr. Versatility
We will have a full feature on this later in the week, but Norwood looks to be a key contributor in Josh McDaniels’ offense, perhaps filling the “Danny Woodhead” role as a do-everything back.
Norwood’s skills in space are already well-known, but fans at Lindenwood saw a surprising burst and enthusiasm during inside runs. At the same time, Norwood has lined up in several different ways during camp practices, sometimes doubling up with Jackson in the backfield to give defenses something to think about.
Most importantly, his surgically repaired knee appears to be healthy, as Norwood is running and cutting with speed and agility, even on Friday’s wet practice field conditions.
Harvey Dahl: Already bringing attitude
I want to see more of Dahl, and seeing him in televised preseason action will help, but the early indications are that he’s comfortable here in St. Louis, bad news for whoever lines up opposite him in practice.
Dahl has already instigated the camp’s first fight, and the fact that there were any running lanes at all against Spagnuolo’s amped-up defense on Sunday was a marked improvement from the scrimmage of a year ago. This can be partially attributed to Dahl’s handiwork. However, it will be some time before the offensive line gels as a whole, particularly in pass protection. Reportedly, the defensive line had multiple would-be “sacks” on Sunday, if they had been allowed to touch the red jerseys.
Quintin Mikell: All’s Quiet
To be honest, I’m going to have to do a better job of finding Mikell on the field and watching his contributions. Fellow safety Craig Dahl has been making more noise among fans at practice with big hits — one on Danario Alexander in particular on the first day of practice, a “welcome back” moment.
Mikell has been called a great “under the radar” signing. His play so far remains under the radar as well. The good news? You haven’t heard of him getting beat.
Justin Bannan and Daniel Muir
Just like Spagnuolo, we’ll group and rotate through these new additions to the DT position. Of the two Bannan has been getting more reps with the starters, which coincides with his more positive PFF rating.
Dan Muir is a good undertackle and he started 13 games last yr, i believe. he is a bad NT and struggles agnst run tho.
“Undertackle” happens to be the role played by Fred Robbins in Spagnuolo’s defense, rushing the gap between guard and tackle while the DE rushes the tackle’s outside shoulder. Look for Muir to spell Robbins in that role, most likely, while Bannan challenges incumbent Gary Gibson for the starting DT spot next door.
Zac Diles and Brady Poppinga
Again, I’ll need to spend more time watching before making a pronouncement on either. Poppinga did have an interception during Sunday’s scrimmage, though, which raises his name. And I saw Diles deliver a withering blow on Keith Toston at the goal line during Friday’s practice, just ten feet away from where I was standing. However, Diles didn’t wrap up, and Toston was able to power through for a score. Diles’ fundamentals reportedly took a nose-dive in Houston last year, and the Rams really value fundamental tackling ability, so look for some coaching-up (or competition) here.