EARTH CITY, Mo. -- If you're not already reading ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton's weekly mailbag, that's probably something that needs to be remedied in the near future. Like, right now.
Clayton covers a variety of topics all over the league and this week offered an interesting nugget concerning the St. Louis Rams. The lead of the mailbag discusses the importance of having the right pieces in place on defensive subpackages such as the nickel and dime. In other words, when a team abandons its base defense and brings extra defensive backs on the field (usually to replace linebackers).
Given the proliferation of offenses using three, four and even five receiver sets, the emphasis on getting better in subpackages has only increased. In fact, many 4-3 teams use a fifth defensive back more than or as much as a third linebacker. If nothing else, defenses often spend their time in those looks on third down which also ratchets up the need for better pass-rushing options.
Which brings us back to Clayton's mailbag where he names the Rams as one of five teams he projects to improve in subpackages in 2014.
From Clayton's piece:
"The Rams already were loaded with talent in their subpackage with Robert Quinn, Chris Long,Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford. Now they can put first-round choice Aaron Donald in for Langford. Donald has the look of a 3-technique tackle who can get six to nine sacks as a rookie."
In addition to Donald, who should ramp up the pass rush, the Rams also brought in defensive tackle Alex Carrington and drafted likely slot corner Lamarcus Joyner in the second round. The Rams had trouble getting timely stops in 2013 but clearly made rectifying that problem a priority this offseason.
A roundup of Monday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we began the day with a discussion of the possibility for St. Louis to host the NFL draft. ... Next, we examined the addition of defensive tackle Alex Carrington to a crowded position group. ... From there, we offered the Rams' training camp schedule. ... We closed the day with a look at center Scott Wells' reworked contract.
To complement Clayton's mailbag, here's his "Inside the Huddle" podcast with the likes of Richard Sherman joining him as guests.
On ESPN Insider, Bill Polian looks at the likelihood of success for rookie offensive linemen, noting that those starting out at tackle could struggle.
Steelers reporter Scott Brown offers some great remembrances of coach Chuck Noll.
At stltoday.com, Jim Thomas explores the journey for cornerback Greg Reid to the NFL.
101sports.com provides four observations from the Rams' organized team activities.