Rams preview: Nick Foles, Rams WRs need to step up

Around The NFL's season preview goes to the NFC West.

Change we can believe in

The Rams are a puzzle. No team drew such volatile reaction in our Around The NFL Power Poll, with Gregg Rosenthal calling St. Louis the ninth-best club in the NFL and Kevin Patra placing them at No. 30. Reality lies somewhere in between, with the Rams' fortunes based heavily on the success of Nick Foles. Before seeing Sam Bradford play this summer, I'd call the trade for Foles a push. Bradford's resurgence, though, raises larger questions about the organization's ability to develop quarterbacks and skill players.

Still, what's not to like about drafting college football's finest running back in Todd Gurley? Once healthy, the pairing of Gurley and Tre Mason furnishes the Rams with a diverse backfield that could ultimately change the identity of this moribund attack. Foles is a grab bag, but channeling the St. Louis offense through a power run game helps his chances.

Biggest Concern

No team, of late, has drafted more wideouts who failed to blossom into top-tier targets. Selling fans on Kenny Britt as your potential No. 1 receiver makes it clear: There's no true leader here. New coordinator Frank Cignetti went out of his way to praise wideout Tavon Austin's "great offseason," but we need to see it on the field. After averaging just 2.9 targets per game last season, Austin has yet to make good on his first-round pedigree.

Off the field, swirling gossip about the Rams returning to Los Angeles is a built-in distraction. The 1995 Browns -- touted as a Super Bowl contender under Bill Belichick -- went down in flames after it was announced midseason that the franchise would move to Baltimore. In this case, St. Louis fans see the writing on the wall. If moving west becomes a reality, Jeff Fisher and his staff will face an enormous challenge in keeping everyone focused.

Training camp surprise

Offensive tackle Greg Robinson shed roughly 15 pounds this offseason, leaving teammates to tell The MMQB that last year's first-rounder is "lighter and faster and more nimble" this season. Slated to take over for veteran left tackle Jake Long, Robinson's performance this summer drew praise from line coach Paul T. Boudreau, who said the blocker is "night and day" from last autumn. Fellow lineman Rodger Saffold also noted that Robinson has emerged as an avid tape-watcher, saying: "I expect to see a big improvement out of him."

What we'll be saying in February

Sam Bradford became a star after leaving St. Louis. The Rams, meanwhile, remain an enigmatic squad on the fringe of relevancy -- and still in need of a quarterback.

Predicted finish: No. 3 in NFC West, No. 10 in the NFC, No. 21 overall in Around The NFL's Power Poll.

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