By Sam McPherson

Hopes were high for the Los Angeles Rams coming into the 2016 NFL regular season, as the team returned to the West Coast for the first time since the 1990s. The Rams had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, not to mention last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. This was going to be the year the team returned to the NFL’s promised land.

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Fast forward eight weeks, and things remain pretty much the same for the Rams franchise, even after the celebrated return to Los Angeles. A 3-4 record with the last two losses coming by a combined 10 points means the team is performing at its typical not-quite-there-yet level. Needless to say, that’s been a disappointment.

As with every team with a losing record in the NFL, however, there have been bright spots, too.

Rising: Kenny Britt, WR

At 28 years old in his eighth NFL season, Britt has never reached 1,000 yards receiving in a single year. He is on pace to do so in 2016, however, despite the uneven quarterback play. That’s an impressive achievement, and with 33 catches for 535 yards right now, Britt could set career-high marks in both categories.

His seven-game totals prorate to a Pro Bowl-level season (75 receptions and 1,223 yards), while his catch rate (68.8 percent) currently also would set a career high. Britt has done a fine job in 2016 of beating single coverage afforded to him by defenses designed to shut down the Los Angeles running game.

Rising: Alec Ogletree, LB

Is it fair to call him “rising” simply because he is returning to his pre-injury level? In fact, after missing 12 games last season, Ogletree is going to surpass his star-level production from 2013-2014. The young L.A. defender is on pace to make 130 tackles this season, which would surpass his previous best (118) effort from his rookie season.

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After he suffered a bad ankle injury after just four games in 2015, the Rams weren’t sure if Ogletree would be able to regain his former stature. However, he has left no doubts in anyone’s mind after just seven games in 2016. He has five pass defenses to his credit this year, as well as a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. At age 25 now, Ogletree’s present (and future) is very Impressive.

Falling: Robert Quinn, DE

From 2012-2014, he averaged more than 13 sacks a season for a fierce Rams defense. However, since the start of last season, Quinn has just seven sacks in 13 games. Injuries have certainly played a role in his production drop, but the L.A. defense has struggled this season as a result of Quinn’s ineffectiveness.

He has only seven tackles in five games this season, and despite forcing two fumbles already in 2016, Quinn just isn’t able to provide the QB pressure he once was. That leaves the Rams struggling as it’s possible Quinn has seen his best days already at age 26, and that would be a big blow to the long-term prospects of this organization.

Falling: Todd Gurley, RB

His struggles are well-documented fact across the league. After a dominant rookie campaign that saw him make the Pro Bowl, Gurley has basically disappeared off the NFL’s star landscape with a 3.0 yards-per-carry average in his second season. While his team’s QB play hasn’t dramatically changed at all, defenses have loaded up on the rookie in order to stop him from carrying the L.A. offense very far in 2016.

After running for over 85 yards per game last year, Gurley is managing just 57.6 yards per game this season. That’s almost 30 yards per game less, and while it may not seem like much on paper, those extra yards impact field and scoring position in every game the Rams have played this year.

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Post Author: Sam McPherson.