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RamView: Preseason Week 3 – WR/OL

* Wide receivers: Now for a pretty depressing development: Donnie Avery (2-48) was having a pretty nice night and was stepping forward as the Rams’ #1 WR, then, trying to come back for a deep sideline throw late in the 2nd half, his knee got death wobble, he had to be carted off, and his 2010 season is probably over. A real shame Avery had to go down like that, after working hard this offseason to try to be more durable and with the light coming on tonight. Laurent Robinson (0-0) just hasn’t instilled any of the confidence he did this time last year. He has no burst to get open quickly and he dropped a perfectly good pass over the middle tonight. Yes, he would have had a TD late in the first half on a better throw by Bradford, thanks to a major coverage breakdown. The other WRs did their best to step up for Avery. Brandon Gibson (4-50) may have stepped up as the other starter, with Danny Amendola (5-50) working the slot and Mardy Gilyard (3-23) as Avery’s potential stand-in as a deep threat. Excellent TD by Gibson in the 3rd, showing some finishing ability by faking out Darius Butler at the 10 and barreling in for a 20-yard score. The main benefactor of Avery’s injury, though, looks like Keenan Burton (4-27). He had a poor night on special teams, but unlike the WRs behind him, he can get on the field right now and does something when he’s in there. He kept the game alive by running through Butler at midfield on a late 3rd-and-7. His intensity was palpable; I’d say he and Jordan Kent are running 5th and 6th at WR. Kent would ace Burton out on special teams if they were after the same spot, but unfortunately for Avery, there’s another one open now.

* Offensive line: Another fine job this week by the offensive line. Bradford was sacked only once, wasn’t hit much, and had a firm pocket to throw from most of the night, even with Bill Belichick calling blitzes on most of his defensive plays. Blitz pickup by the likes of Darby and Bajema was very good, and most of the o-linemen held their ground. Young tackles Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold looked solid again. Smith was beaten once for a hit that threw off a Bradford pass. The line’s physicality was impressive in the running game. Smith and Jason Brown had plays where they’d drive their man yards off the line. Jacob Bell did some impressive run-blocking. He threw crushing blocks on the first and second level on one of Darby’s 8-yard runs. The second unit wasn’t as good, but wasn’t awful, either, and held up especially well up the middle. It looked like Hank Fraley had a good night, and I think they had a very good idea moving Drew Miller to guard. He looks good enough to stick there. Backup tackle play was a bit soft. Eric Young’s best play of the game came very early, as they had him lined up at H-back to throw a big block and seal the edge for Jackson for an 11-yard run around right end. The line was very good most of the night, and I like Adam Goldberg, so I’ll wait till last to pick on him. But he was the weak link tonight and had terrible trouble with man-mountain Ron Brace. Brace blew Goldberg up a lot, and beat him, with (I think) Jerod Mayo sneaking behind Brown, for the only sack of Bradford. But even that sack is avoided if Bajema cuts off his route like Bradford appeared to expect him to do. Derrick Burgess knocked Goldberg on his butt to mess up a screen to Darby. Ryan McKee was beaten right off the snap for the only sack of Lewis, and a blitzing LB just put Onobun on his ass to rush Lewis into throwing his interception the next play. So it wasn’t all “five blocks of granite,” but the Ram offensive linemen still had an impressively solid night.

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