Rookie receivers have been a rare positive for Rams in camp

MEQUON, Wis. -- Some key position battles have been impacted by the rash of injuries that have plagued the St. Louis Rams during their training camp, which broke Wednesday. Here's a closer look at them:

1. Center of attention

Intense competition was expected between Brett Romberg and Richie Incognito at center.

However, a knee injury to Mark Setterstrom early in camp forced Incognito to move to right guard. Although Setterstrom was out of action for about a week, it gave the coaches enough time to decide they prefer the combination they had at the end of last season -- with Romberg and Incognito starting at center and right guard, respectively, and Setterstrom backing up both guard spots.

2. Feeling a Draft

Strong side linebacker had promised a spirited showdown between 10-year veteran Chris Draft and second-year man Quinton Culberson, who made the roster last year as an undrafted free agent from Mississippi State and played well on special teams and in the lone start he made at the end of the season.

However, Draft wound up suffering a back injury that kept him out of camp drills and provided Culberson with greater opportunities to work with the first unit. Culberson has made the most of those opportunities, impressing coaches with his speed and athleticism.

Although it's possible Draft could make a late push to become the starter, it looks to be Culberson's job to lose. Draft's ability to play all three linebacker spots also makes him the team's most valuable backup at the position.

3. Depth at receiver

The third and fourth receiver positions are still up for grabs.

Veteran Drew Bennett, who joined the Rams last year as a free agent from Tennessee, has had a strong camp. So has another veteran, Dante Hall, whose speed and play-making skills have often been featured by offensive coordinator Al Saunders. It's possible that the third and fourth spots will vary throughout according to the situation and formation.

The Rams see great promise in a pair of rookie receivers, second-round draft pick Donnie Avery and fourth-rounder Keenan Burton. A pelvis fracture slowed Avery for the first couple of weeks of camp. However, fourth-rounder Keenan Burton has been impressive. When healthy, both have shown considerable speed and play-making skills. Both also have benefited from the tutelage of veteran wideout Torry Holt.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of camp has been veteran slot receiver Dane Looker. The coaches try to replace him every year, yet he continues to produce and play well. Looker probably has had the best camp of all of the Rams' receivers.

4. Secondary a primary concern

The loss of rookie cornerback Justin King to season-ending toe surgery was a blow to the Rams' secondary depth. King, a fourth-round pick, had been showing a great deal of progress in workouts. He had seemingly moved ahead of Jonathan Wade into the fourth corner spot.

King's absence figures to greatly improve David Macklin's chances of making the team.

How great is the Rams' concern over their secondary depth? With injuries to Oshiomogho Atogwe and Jerome Carter, the Rams were forced to play rookie Sebastien Sejean, an international practice-squad player, in the fourth quarter of the preseason-opener against Tennessee.

Camp: Mequon, Wis.

Preseason games:
Aug. 9: Titans 34, Rams 13
Aug. 16: San Diego, 8 p.m. ET

Aug. 23: Baltimore, 8 p.m. ET

Aug. 28: at Kansas City, 7 p.m. ET

5. Impact of Jackson's absence

Steven Jackson's camp-long holdout has given the Rams a long look at second-year running backs Brian Leonard and Antonio Pittman.

Leonard and Pittman have been solid in sharing carries. However, neither is expected to force any opponent to bunch eight defenders at the line of scrimmage the way Jackson does. And, depending on Jackson's status, that should have significant ramifications on a passing game that thrives on the extra attention that a defense that is constantly preoccupied with stopping the run.

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