This article is part of our Team Previews series.
State of the Franchise
The Rams were part of the NFC West's surprising resurgence in 2012, flirting with .500 all season as coach Jeff Fisher helped St. Louis improve its win total by five games. After the Rams seemed to be in shambles following a disastrous 2011 campaign, hope reappeared as QB Sam Bradford and a host of young players brought St. Louis closer to contention.
That said, it's difficult to predict whether the team will continue to improve or fall back to its 2-14 ways of 2011. All-time leading rusher Steven Jackson is gone, as is No. 1 wideout Danny Amendola, and the offense wasn't all that stellar, even with the two of them. The Rams had one of the worst third-down conversion percentages in the league last season, which contributed to a paltry average of 18.7 points a game. In his fourth year, Bradford, along with his developing supporting cast, will have to take major steps forward this season to keep the Rams heading in the right direction.
Since the Rams lack the collective talent to contend with San Francisco and Seattle, their skill players will look to speed past defenses to get victories this season. First-round burner Tavon Austin hopes to emerge as the top wideout weapon Bradford has been waiting for, while fellow youthful receivers Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey and Austin Pettis will jostle for depth chart slotting. The strength of the offense may lie in the TE corps, however, as