St. Louis Rams: Recapping the Latest Buzz Heading into Training Camp

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 10, 2014

St. Louis Rams: Recapping the Latest Buzz Heading into Training Camp

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Rams will put an end to the painful summer football drought by kicking off training camp on July 25—just over two weeks away.

    News has been slow in recent weeks as the players and coaches enjoy the final moments of their offseason break, but things will heat up shortly, and the questions we've been pondering all offseason will finally be met with answers.

    This article will highlight several of the reports and headlines leading up to camp and provide some insight, while also pointing out a few things to look forward to. 

Ray-Ray Armstrong's Presence Will Be Felt

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    According to Nick Wagoner of ESPN, Ray-Ray Armstrong will be a player to watch in camp, and he is expected to have an increased role on defense.

    It's often assumed that veteran Jo-Lonn Dunbar will start at outside linebacker opposite Alec Ogletree, but I've been saying for months now that Armstrong has a shot at dethroning the incumbent.

    Armstrong, a second-year pro and former undrafted rookie out of the University of Miami, flashed the skills of a true playmaker on special teams last season. He had his share of penalties and foolish errors, but his athleticism was undeniable.

    Dunbar, on the other hand, had a down year in 2013 following a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. In fact, the Rams cut Dunbar following the suspension but eventually re-signed him out of desperation after the defense failed to impress early in the year.

    Now that Armstrong has a year under his belt, it could make Dunbar more replaceable than he was at this time a year ago.

    At the very least, Dunbar is not guaranteed a starting job, so this will be an interesting battle to watch in camp.

Sam Bradford's Health Will Be Center of Attention

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    According to USA Today, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is not concerned about his knee entering training camp, but that doesn't mean his health won't be the center of our focus.

    Bradford suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Carolina Panthers during Week 7 of last season, and the injury forced us to question whether he'll be fully healthy for camp—and if so, will he be the same player as he was before the injury?

    Obviously, the quarterback position is vital to the success of any football team, so St. Louis' playoff hopes are riding on Bradford's questionable knee. As a result, fans will be focusing on Bradford's play above all else.

    If his movements are fluid and his throws are excellent as usual, it will put to bed some of the concerns. Conversely, if Bradford has a visibly shaky camp, we can expect the doomsday predictions to reach unbearable levels.

Tre Mason Looking to Make a Splash

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Tre Mason recently stated that he intends to prove during camp that he's capable of being a starting running back, and these comments go hand-in-hand with an report from May stating that Mason will compete for the starting job. 

    While logic favors incumbent Zac Stacy for the starting job—Stacy had an incredible rookie year in 2013 with over 900 rushing yards—there's no doubt that Mason's ego and confidence will make the running back battle interesting. 

    As the highest drafted skill position player on offense from 2013 (third round), Mason will naturally draw a lot of attention, but his comments make him even more visible to the public.  

    Winning the starting job is certainly an uphill battle for Mason, to say the least, but it'll be fun to see what he's capable of. 

The Michael Sam Saga Begins

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The Rams drafting Michael Sam in the seventh round practically caused the world to explode as far as media coverage, but lately, the Sam Show has been calm and quiet. 

    Now, it's time to find out if it will stay that way, or if training camp will reignite the media frenzy. 

    Many fans will undoubtedly flock to Rams Park to show their support for Sam, but there's no way to tell how hectic things will actually be. 

    Will the crowds be similar to last year, when fans came to St. Louis in large numbers to get a glimpse of the electric Tavon Austin? Or will there be a record-setting turnout like we've never seen at Rams Park?

    Either way, it's obvious that Sam will be a figure of heavy interest throughout camp.  

Crack Open a Bud

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    One of the latest headlines related to Rams training camp has nothing to do with the on-field product, but rather with the canned and bottled products produced locally. 

    Alcohol has traditionally been prohibited for fans at Rams Park, but the team will now be serving beer at the facility. The Rams allowed the fans to vote on the issue, and it should come as no surprise that 93 percent of the fans voted in favor of beer (thank you, democracy). 

    As if attending camp is not fun enough, now we have a legitimate excuse to drink at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday. 

    Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or by following him on Twitter.