Kendricks Stands Out

Craig Vonder Haar feels the play of rookie tight end Lance Kendricks was a bright spot during the exhibition opener for the Rams Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Edward Jones Dome.

If the opening act is any indication, it could be an exciting season for the 2011 St. Louis Rams.

Now I’m certainly not suggesting that the Rams are going to win the Super Bowl, but there are some similarities between this year’s team and the 1999 championship squad.

Come to think of it, maybe the Rams will win the Super Bowl this season.

In 1999, Dick Vermeil hired Mike Martz to take over the offense and the “Greatest Show on Turf” was born.

In 2011, Steve Spagnuolo hired Josh McDaniels, another offensive mastermind, to run the offense.

In 1999, the Rams drafted wide receiver Torry Holt, who wore No. 88 and brought plenty of energy and excitement to the team.

In 2011, the Rams drafted tight end Lance Kendricks, who wears No. 88 and brings all kinds of excitement and energy to the team.

Also in 1999, the Rams signed free agent right guard Adam Timmerman to help solidify the offensive line.

Prior to the 2011 campaign, the Rams signed free agent right guard Harvey Dahl to well, help solidify the offensive line.

This year’s Rams don’t have Marshall Faulk in the backfield, but wait a second, Steven Jackson isn’t too shabby.

The 2011 Rams don’t have wide receiver Isaac Bruce, but Mike Sims-Walker has been known to have several big games during his career.

The first time I saw Mardy Gilyard in person without his helmet, I honestly thought he was Az-Zahir Hakim. By the way, both Hakim and Gilyard wore/wear No. 81.

If only this year’s Rams had a slot receiver who is tough as nails who can get you a big catch on third down like Ricky Proehl always did. Wait a minute, that describes Danny Amendola perfectly.

Besides Dahl and Timmerman on the offensive line, there can’t be any more similarities between 1999 and 2011, right? Wrong.

Orlando Pace and Roger Saffold, the two starting left tackles, both wore/wear No. 76. Both are soft-spoken giants who played college ball in the Big 10, Pace at Ohio State and Saffold at Indiana.

On the other side of the line, right tackles Fred Miller and Jason Smith both went to Baylor.

OK, this is getting weird.

Defensively, middle linebacker James Laurinaitis is the Rams’ best middle linebacker since guess who? London Fletcher of the 1999 Rams.

On special teams, punters Mike Horan and Donnie Jones both are left-footed who held the ball on field-goal attempts.

The kickers, Jeff Wilkins and Josh Brown, both previously played for NFC West rivals San Francisco and Seattle, respectively, before joining the Rams.

Even the Rams head coaches in 1999 and 2011 are similar. Both Vermeil and Spagnuolo are short in stature, but giants at Rams Park. Both coaches previously worked with the Philadelphia Eagles before coming to St. Louis.

While we hope the end result is the same as the 1999 team, let’s hope the 2011 squad takes a different path.

Rams’ highly touted starting quarterback Trent Green was injured during a home preseason game in 1999. I personally witnessed Vermeil sobbing during the postgame press conference.

Kurt Warner took over at quarterback and we all know the rest of the story.

The Rams’ final preseason home game is Saturday night. Maybe Sam Bradford should sit this one out. I don’t want to see Spagnuolo crying after the game.

No word on whether Rams backup quarterback A.J. Feeley used to stock shelves at a grocery store.

Feeley’s wife, Heather Mitts, is a famous soccer player who played for the U.S. World Cup team this summer.

Warner’s wife, Brenda, became famous thanks to Kurt’s play on the football field.

The Rams continue their 2011 preseason schedule Saturday at home against the Tennessee Titans, the same organization the Rams defeated in the 1999 season in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Super Bowl XXXIV was played in a dome, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. This season’s big game, Super Bowl XLVI, also will be played in a dome.

See you in Indianapolis.