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Local knowledge -- Rams edition

Who better to ask about the opponent than the beat writers that cover them every day.

Long-time St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jim Thomas was good enough to answer five questions about the Rams


1. When the Rams were looking for a QB, how wide was the gulf between Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen? Was there any other play they considered taking at 1 (thinking maybe Clausen might be there at 33) or were they locked in on Sam?


The Rams liked Clausen, but not as a top 10 guy, and certainly not as a No. 1 overall pick. I think the Rams had some interest in the two DTs --  Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy --  but as soon as they realized that Bradford's shoulder was OK from surgery, he was their guy. Bradford convinced everybody that was the case at his Pro Day in late March.


2. Speaking of Bradford, why has he been able to succeed so quickly?


Physically Bradford has all the tools --  size, arm strength, good mobility. But he has also displayed the mental makeup to be a successful NFL quarterback. He shows poise in the pocket, and a presence in the huddle, even though he's not a loud, outspoken guy. He's grounded and down to earth. And he realizes the media responsibilities that come from being a starting NFL quarterback. In short, he gets it. He has a quick release, and is decisive in the pocket. That doesn't mean he's devoid of rookie moments --  because he has them.”


3. And these wide receivers he's throwing to: Who the heck are they, and where did they find them?


Well, that's the thing. Bradford's supporting cast in terms of receivers isn't very good. And two of the best --  Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton --  are out of the season with knee injuries. Avery was the first WR taken in the 2008 draft (he suffered his injury in the third preseason game). Clayton, acquired in a trade with Baltimore, had given the team quite a lift with his quickness and run-after-the-catch skills. But he suffered a patellar tendon injury early in Game 5 (in Detroit) and is done for the year. 

That leaves Danny Amendola (a quick, tough, mighty mite at slot receiver--he followed Wes Welker at Texas Tech); Mardy Gilyard (a 4th-round draft pick who had a great college career at Cincinnati--he's been a disappointment so far), Brandon Gibson (acquired in trade deadline deal with Philly last season--he's been so-so); Laurent Robinson (acquired in pre-draft trade with Atlanta in 2009--injury plagued and a disappointment); and Danario Alexander (a local hero of sorts because he starred at Mizzou last season--knee injuries have slowed him--he was promoted from the practice squad before the San Diego game two Sundays ago and had a great debut --  4 for 72, 1 TD --  but barely played against Tampa).


4. Has coach Steve Spagnuolo changed his approach from last year (1-15), and are they starting to realize they're a contender for the  division?


I don't think Spagnuolo has changed much. He's old school. The team practices hard, Spagnuolo keeps them focused on the task at hand. He is intense, but seems to connect with the players. He has slowly tried to raise the level of expectations of the team, and I think he's succeeded so far. The team goal is winning the division --  keeping in mind it's the weak NFC West.”



5. Has there been a more under-appreciated star than RB Steven Jackson, who became the Rams' all-time leading rusher last week. Also,  I know he's a single guy, but will this left ring finger surgery allow  him to play this weekend?


Jackson has been very under-appreciated in St. Louis. For one, he followed the great Marshall Faulk who was one of the ringleaders of the Greatest Show on Turf. For another, Jackson's outspoken ways earlier in his career rubbed some fans the wrong way. But he has matured into a team leader. Eventually, this will be Sam Bradford's team. But right now, it's Jackson's. He plays hard. Plays hurt. And is very consistent in his effort and his production. He expects to play Sunday. We'll see.


-- Darin Gantt