Rams Reset: Preseason Week 2 vs the Titans

Chris Johnson breaks off a monster run vs the Rams in 2008
The Rams most likely won’t be tested by the Titans’ most dangerous player. Chris Johnson continues his contract holdout.

This week the Rams turn their attentions away from their nice game against the Colts, and toward the Tennessee Titans, who come to town for the second preseason game of the year this Saturday. Here’s a quick reset to focus our attention as well.

Quick hits in Tennessee

NFP: Chris Johnson is holding out for a monster contract, and Steven Jackson is a telling comparable.

Andrew Brandt points out that the market for running back contracts has been essentially unchanged since Jackson got his extension with the Rams. The relatively cash-poor Rams under transitional owners Chip and Lucia Rosenbloom gave Jackson $21 million guaranteed, a deal neatly mirrored by the Panthers with Deangelo Williams.

No surprise, but Johnson wants a good deal more. And he isn’t reporting to camp until that contract is done, taking a huge weapon off the field for the Rams’ defense to contend with. In the meantime, intriguing handcuff runner Javon Ringer gets the spotlight.

Total Titans: Relatively few roster spots are available in Tennessee.

Andrew Strickert is Bloguin’s main correspondent for the Titans, and he’s been getting a first-hand view of the new coaching staff as they go through multiple camp practices. And his view of the roster situation sees a lot of starting jobs all but locked down. Most of this roster is pretty anonymous to me as a Rams fan and NFC West watcher, as we haven’t faced Tennessee since 2008, but it’s worth noting that their first year of the post-Jeff-Fisher era isn’t necessarily filled with lots of roster churn.

Interestingly, one of his camp observations notices that the team borrows from Steve Spagnuolo in terms of positioning their safeties. This puts a little more significance on the first-half matchups between each team’s first-team units. 

Total Titans: Jake Locker looks pretty good as a pro, so far.

It would be tempting for Rams fans to focus on the Titans’ signing of Matt Hasselbeck as their veteran stopgap, and appreciate the opportunity to pay tribute to this venerable NFC West starter by watching our defensive line ragdoll him across the field. But the future of the franchise is in the hands of another former Seattlite, rookie QB Jake Locker.

The early returns from his first preseason action were pretty positive. He showed accuracy and “poise,” that all-important buzzword for rookies, and recovered from a bad snap exchange to heave a 45-yard touchdown to Yamon Figurs.

Mobile, strong-armed quarterbacks — even those with a cloudy sense of accuracy, such as Troy Smith — have proved to be a problem for the Rams in the past. It will be interesting to see how they gameplan for young Mr. Locker. 

An aside: Oddly enough, Total Titans appears to be that rare blog without a Twitter handle, though Football Outsiders’ Tom Gower (@ThomasGower) does write for them on occasion. So if you’re looking for a new follow, there you go.