Robert Quinn's benching in week 1 remains an intriguing subplot in the Rams' 31-13 loss to Michael Vick and the Eagles, as mystified fans wonder why. I've had friends who follow other teams who wanted Quinn on draft day ask me why he went M.I.A, and I don't have much of an answer to give them.
In today's Post-Dispatch, Jim Thomas delves into the story a little further, and suggests that limitations on Fred Robbins' playing time led the Rams to activate an extra interior grinder for gameday, sacrificing Quinn's edge speed. The second rotation was made up of CJ Ah You, Eugene Sims, Darell Scott and Gary Gibson, each of whom can play inside or out. Thomas also suggests that Ah You's injury all but guarantees playing time for Quinn against Eli Manning in week 2.
But in looking back at previous Rams 1st round picks to be held out on opening day, Quinn joins some pretty bad company.
2005: OT Alex Barron inactive for games 1 & 2. Barron's benching was due to lost time in training camp after a contract holdout, but it was perhaps also a portent of his staggering lack of motivation throughout his career. Barron went from being Orlando Pace's heir apparent to becoming the team's albatross, eventually traded away for fellow first round bust Bobby Carpenter.
2003: DT Jimmy Kennedy inactive for games 1 & 2. Kennedy also lost camp time, and over his career was considered to be another player who failed to have the hunger for the game. Kennedy is still in the game, but never lived up to his draft-day billing.
Quinn didn't play any football all of last year, and he missed camp's opening weekend. Not over a contract dispute, but to there for the birth of his first son. However, the combination of that and a "tweaked" knee led to missing a full week of practices in an already abbreviated preseason. When he does play, though, he shows nice explosion and the ability to create matchup problems. Lack of time against first teamers could be a problem, though.
Time will tell if Quinn can start to realize his outstanding potential in this first year. If he does, then this will be looked back on as part of a league-wide trend. If not, then having his name mentioned with these two pariahs will not help him earn points with the fans, as he learns the game.