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Rams expected to deliver more wide-open offense

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted May 20, 2011 @ 10:48 a.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Any doubt that the Rams' offense will have a much different look and feel under new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was virtually eliminated when — much to the surprise of team insiders — the Rams used three of their first four picks in this year's draft to select receivers.

While a game-breaking threat who could stretch the field was arguably considered the Rams' biggest need entering the draft, nobody expected such an early emphasis on pass catchers.

The addition of second-round TE Lance Kendricks, third-round WR Austin Pettis and fourth-round WR Greg Salas increases the likelihood of a much more wide-open attack in 2011. It also has created quite a traffic jam at wide receiver and tight end, where team insiders believe only WR Mark Clayton (who remains an unrestricted free agent), slot stud Danny Amendola and sure-handed second-year TE Michael Hoomanawanui are assured of final roster spots among the team's holdovers at those positions.

"There will definitely be a lot more four-wide sets, which (former offensive coordinator Pat) Shurmur hardly ever used, and more varied formations," one team insider said. "McDaniels has a track record for not using two backs. That leads to a lot of two-TE sets."

There's strong reason to believe McDaniels, who earned rave reviews as the Patriots' offensive coordinator from 2006-08, is hoping Kendricks and Hoomanawanui can duplicate the success the Pats' offense had last season with rookie TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

"That would certainly appear to be the case," the insider said. "But it's looking like the earliest the offense will be able to get on the field is mid-to-late June. You would think McDaniels might have to seriously consider scaling back the offense."

Also seriously worth thinking about is the extent to which longtime featured back Steven Jackson, who caught 90 passes back in 2006, will be used as a receiver out of the backfield in what shapes up as a much more pass-oriented offense.

"A lot depends on who his backup is going to be," the insider said. "A guy like (free agent) Darren Sproles would probably keep Jackson's catches down."

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