No time for the smoke screen? Deciphering RB rumors on Ronnie Brown and Jerious Norwood

Yes, that's an underwater ninja.
What do Ronnie Brown and Jerious Norwood have to do with an underwater ninja, you might ask?

This has not been your typical offseason for the master of the poker face, Rams GM Billy Devaney. Typically the Rams are less like sharks in the water, flashing the tell-tale dorsal fin as they circle their prey, and more like … um, underwater ninjas? 

Okay, so metaphors are not going to be my strong suit tonight. But as rumors about finding Steven Jackson’s backup surface, you can’t help but notice a curious trend in this frenzied week of signings, a trend that goes against the grain of the Rams’ usual M.O.

As the gates of free agency first opened, we heard nothing on Giants’ DT Barry Cofield, and end up letting him go easily to the Redskins. The name Quintin Mikell barely surfaced, though, before he was signed. This is classic Devaney. Identify your targets early, close on your top prey quietly and without any fuss, then snatch him off the board before anyone else can make a move. If necessary, throw out a smokescreen or two beforehand. In this case, the Cofield and Sidney Rice speculation ran rampant enough to where it wasn’t even necessary.

But after that top tier disappeared during a nutso Wednesday and Thursday, the game changed. Suddenly, during a whirlwind Friday, the Rams were said to be “in the hunt” for Atlanta guard Harvey Dahl.

Normally, this is code for “make a fair offer but get ready to watch as the player we wanted signs with someone else.” But then a few hours later, Dahl was a Ram! That same Friday, DT Justin Bannan’s name hit the airwaves, and he’s signed midway through the first practice. Ditto Colts DT Muir and LB Brady Poppinga. (Perhaps unexpected signings like Al Harris slipped under the radar through sheer improbability.) 

So what does that mean when we see news like this? 

ProdJoe (KFNS Fans 590)
Jerious Norwood is in St. Louis tonight. Dining at Ruth Chris. Sources claim will be signing tomorrow

Or this?

ChrisWesseling (RotoWorld)
Michael Lombardi on NFLN: #Rams most interested, doing the most homework on Ronnie Brown. They’re also in on Snelling. Looking for nickel RB

Firstly, like anything you hear on Twitter, you have to take this with a grain of salt. Not every name rumored to be with the Rams has come true. But the fact of the matter is that the normal rules of engagement are nowhere to be found in this rapid-fire offseason. Players are coming in for visits, and if the team likes, it strikes. There’s no time for smokescreens, no time for poker faces, barely enough time to even approach debunking a rumor before it becomes fact.

I’m not saying to believe it. But if you want to go to bed tonight dreaming of a three-headed monster backfield of Steven Jackson, Ronnie Brown and home-run threat Jerious Norwood, I’ve got no reason to stop you.