Jim Thomas Rams Chat Highlights

—How Do Other GM’s View Bradford? I can’t really speak for the other GMs in the league. But I think teams respect Bradford’s arm strength and potential. (I know, when does potential get realized?) Remember, it was Mike Shanahan who helped talk Jeff Fisher into taking the St. Louis job over Miami because of Bradford. I’m sure some GMs might wonder why hasn’t Bradford clicked yet for the Rams. With Wilson and Kaepernick, you have to respect their improvisational skills and their running ability. I’m still not convinced about them as passers. If you had to depend on their passing ability to win a game _ say a game where they had to throw it 35-40 times, could they do it?

—How Does Austin Look? Pretty good. I’d still rank Bailey, Britt, and Quick ahead of him as far as how he has looked so far in camp. But Austin has had some moments. They’ve been using him a little more in the backfield this camp; let’s see if that carries over to the season.

—Chance Gaines Makes Roster? A pretty good chance I would say as a special teams guy. Right now, I’d say it’s between him, Greg Reid, and Darren Woodard for the 5th spot, and the Rams could keep 6. For what it’s worth the first unofficial depth chart of the preseason has Gaines listed as second team.

—WR to get most targets? If Bailey weren’t suspended, I’d say he’d be the guy. Without him, I think it comes down to Austin, Britt, and Cook. But without a proven No. 1 receiver or go-to guy, it could vary from game to game.

—No, Carrington isn’t tearing it up like Donald. But he’s been OK. Remember he’s coming back from a 2013 injury. But he’s been solid. And keep in mind, he’s not the quick, speed-rush guy like Donald. He’s more of the bigger run-stuffer kind of guy.

—Alexander a Starter? That’ll be tough. McDonald and McLeod are pretty well ensconced as the starters at this point.

—WR’s improved? I’m reserving judgment. Last year at this time, we were all raving about the new-improved receiver corps _ particularly Austin. Quick had a good camp last year as well in ’13. Etc. Etc. And then the games started. And you make a good point about the secondary _ that unit still has to prove itself.

—Pead? The Rams think he can still be a space player on third down, catching passes out of the backfield. But it’s going to be hard for him to leapfrog Stacy, Cunningham, and Mason on the depth chart.

—OL Keepers? I’m assuming that you’re putting Davin Joseph in the top six. The Rams will probably keep eight or nine o-linemen, which brings you to Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones, Mike Person, Sean Hooey, Brandon Washington. I’d say Barnes and Barrett, maybe Person, are at the head of the group so far. At this point, I think rookies Demetrius Rhaney and Mitchell Van Dyk are practice squad candidates, although Rhaney has had some moments in camp.

—What makes Donald so effective? Impressive quickness, good strength, uses leverage to his advantage, smart, mature, knows how to use hands to fend off blockers.

—Barret Jones? Well, he certainly needs the reps. But I don’t think he’s missed enough to really set him back so far.

—Rams to Lead the NFL in Sacks? They’ve been at or near the top each of the past two seasons, so sure, I think we’ll see more of the same this year. The thing about Gregg Williams though is that the pressure could come from all over, be it blitzing linebackers, blitzing safeties, or Joyner coming off the slot. And the more the Rams are playing with a lead, the more they should have opportunities for sacks.

—Pettis Makes Roster? I think he’s there, especially for the first four games when there’s no Bailey.

—Joyner the Real deal? He certainly looks like it. Smart. Instinctive. Tough.

—Starting Seconday? Jenkins and Johnson at cornerback; Joyner at nickel back; McDonald at strong safety; McLeod at free safety.

—Austin Franklin has been OK from what I have noticed. But again, there are 90 players out there so I haven’t watched him a lot. He’s in a group behind the top 6 WRs that includes Justin Veltung and T.J. Moe. I liked what I saw from Watts early in camp, but he’s been banged up and hasn’t practiced in a few days.

—Harvey Dahl? Fisher told me at the start of camp that the door was still open for a Dahl return, but he underwent pretty major hip surgery in the offseason. I don’t know if he’s ready, or even if he still wants to play.

—There are plenty of players’ coaches in the league, but I do believe Fisher has to be in the top group. He is proactive when it comes to injuries. He has a good sense for when players are dragging. He has toughness but yet has kind of a laid-back personality that players respond to.

—Donald Starting Week 1. No. He’s in the rotation with Brockers and Langford the starters, and will see plenty of action in passing situations.

—Chance Rams Make Playoffs? I’ll say 38%

—It’s not like Givens has been terrible or anything in camp. I just think the others have just played that much better.

—Well, right now Jones is hurt. They were pretty even before that, alternating time with the starting offensive line while Wells was hurt.

—A quick start is a necessity. They’ve got to take care of Minnesota and Dallas at home. Tampa Bay will be tough. Have a lot of respect for Lovie Smith as a coach. And it likely will be 90 degrees at kickoff in Tampa on Sept. 15. Rams conditioning and toughness will be put to the test.

—Number of carries for Stacy? Hard to predict. You have to think as the season goes on and Mason gets settled in he would see more action. At the NFL owners meetings in March, Fisher called Stacy a “70 percent” back, meaning he would get 70 percent of the touches. But that was before he drafted Mason.

—Ray Ray a Dirty Player? I’m sure that’s the case among special teamers. He does not play nice.

—Westbrooks? He’s looked very quick. Right now I’d say Westbrooks and TE Alex Bayer are the best looking rookie free agents.

—Cory Harkey is the third tight end. If you’re talking about fourth tight end, it’s Bayer or Justice Cunning ham.

—Fastest WR Straight Line Speed: Givens or Austin? Austin.

—Fastest Player on Defense? Might be McGee.

—Bryant has been back only for one practice. Daniels has looked pretty good. Some big hits. As always, with him it’s a matter of staying healthy.

—There is a different vibe and feel to camp this year. What that leads to I can’t say. And a couple of injuries at the wrong position, and the good vibes could change. I’ll say it again _ Fisher seems to like this club.

—I think the Rams keep 3 QBs this year, and that’s it’s Hill and Gilbert behind Bradford.

—Mason or Cunningham? They’ll both make the final 53. As to who’s the No. 2 RB behind Stacy, I’d kind of think Mason by pedigree, but I like Cunningham a lot.

—This certainly is a make-or-break kind of year for Wells. Jones has been out for a few days now. Before that he was alternating with Barnes while Wells was out early in camp. If Wells is on the field the position will be fine.

—How Has Robinson Looked? Pretty good. Powerful run blocker _ as advertised. I think he’s getting better on pass blocking.

—How Important are Home Wins? Extremely important. The Rams showed signs a year ago, going 5-3 at home, and winning their last three of the season in the dome. I think it will take at least 6-2 at home to be a serious playoff contender in 2014.

—Sam or Westbrooks? The preseason is all-important in determining that. If Westbrooks plays in games like he has during his first couple of practices, it will be tough to stash him on the practice squad. And yes, I think the “distraction” factor might make it tougher for Sam to land on a practice squad.

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