Judging the progress of offenses and defenses going against each other in training camp is always difficult. If one unit stands out, it's always at the cost of the other. So, naturally the question after Monday's first practice in pads is this: Is the St. Louis Rams' defense that good, or is their aggressive success Monday a product of a still-struggling Rams' offense?
Rams defenders were disruptive during Monday's full squad drills. Sam Bradford and the Rams' offense struggled to find consistency with the defensive front seven putting pressure on them most of the afternoon.
Getting in the offensive backfield is nothing surprising from a Rams' front four that promises to be among the league's best. It's hard to tell early on, however, how much of that disruption is a product of their talent and aggression, and how much of it is a result of a new offensive line still trying to gain cohesion.
Roger Saffold is still getting the hang of playing right tackle, but he and Jake Long held their own against some pretty solid edge rushers in Chris Long and Robert Quinn. The real pressure came right up the gut from Michael Brockers who owned Shelley Smith and Chris Williams. Brockers can be a load to handle on the inside, but let's hope that the interior of the Rams' line is more solid than what they showed on Monday.
That may be helped as rookie guard/center Barrett Jones is able to get some reps. Jones saw his first on-the-field action Monday after being cleared to return from a foot injury. Jones' talent and versatility will give the Rams some options at all three interior line positions.
In the secondary, rookies TJ McDonald and first round pick Alec Ogletree both showed off their hitting ability. Ogletree looked the part of a starter with his aggressiveness, particularly in pass coverages. McDonald had the hit of the day when TE Cory Harkey made the mistake of coming over the middle. Harkey appeared none the worse for wear, but he'll definitely be keeping an eye out for McDonald the next time he's venturing into the middle of the field.
The Rams will take Tuesday off, but will return to action on Wednesday at 3:30 at Rams Park.