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RamView: Preseason Week 3 – RB/TE

* RB: Another single-series cameo for Steven Jackson (5-22), but he looked good doing it, with 6-yard and 11-yard runs. Kenneth Darby (13-35) surprised as the next RB off the bench, and may have won a job tonight, if not the #2 RB job. One way to stick on a roster as a RB is to pick up blitzes, which Darby did at least three times, twice allowing Bradford to convert 3rd downs. Darby showed good, not great, vision as a runner and broke off a couple of 8-yard runs. He probably denied himself a TD, though, overrunning Adam Goldberg on a red zone screen pass early in the 3rd. Chris Ogbonnaya (8-25) had no doubt his best game this preseason, but wasn’t anything spectacular. Keith Toston (12-41) mostly ran up the middle. He did score a TD and had a 12-yard run, but also had the night’s worst miss on blitz pickup, which nearly got Lewis intercepted. Darby looks steady, but that’s the best to say about any of the RB backups. He might be able to spell Jackson for 2-3 plays a game. But behind the Rams’ Pro Bowl RB, there’s little explosiveness and no one to have confidence in to take over for Jackson for an extended period should it become necessary. Jamie McCoy was probably the most intriguing backup RB tonight, thanks to a 25-yard rumble with a screen pass. I’ll call Darby the RB2 for now, but not with a lot of conviction.

* Tight ends: It didn’t dawn on me last week. After a good four years of Rams coaches giving the notion lip service, stacking the roster with tight ends that barely got used, the 2010 Rams are actually making the TE an important part of the offense. It’s such a revolutionary development for this franchise, I thought it worthy of its own section. Even with Daniel Fells injured, the Rams tonight showed a nice group of TEs who run-block well, and significantly, are credible red-zone threats. Michael Hoomanawanui had a breakout night, run-blocking well, picking up blitzes, and finding the soft spots in the Patriot coverage to the tune of 4 catches for 53 yards and 2 TD. He sneaked out of fullback position to score a short TD out of the flat – you know, that play that’s bedeviled the Rams forever. He found the one open spot between about five Patriots near the goal line and pounded his way in for another. And for dessert, add the impressive, over-the-head, one-handed catch Uh-Oh’s becoming famous for, gaining 23 and setting up the Rams’ first FG. The fifth-rounder could has come along far enough to be the Opening Day starter. Billy Bajema (0-0) run-blocked well but had a couple of receiving issues. He apparently can’t catch anything over his head, playing a throw certainly high and behind him in the first like he was trying to grab the ball with canoe paddles, and I believe he needed to shorten his route on the blitz that got to Bradford the only time he was sacked. Fendi Onobun (1-33) sneaked out of the backfield on 4th-and-2 in the 4th just like Uh-Oh did on his first TD, ate up the open field like nothing and was only stopped by a blind or sleepy referee for 33 yards on what should have been a 36-yard TD. Sorry to go all “tight end manifesto” here, but this is a pretty exciting development. The Rams have some good tight ends and have figured out how to use them.

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