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  1. #1
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    Alston's moment to shine comes

    Former Loyola star gets his chance in the NFL
    July 25, 2006

    By Brian Vernellis

    Jon Alston's first steps into the National Football League began when the St. Louis Rams selected him with the 77th overall pick out of Stanford in the third round of April's NFL Draft.

    His full immersion into the life as an NFL rookie begins today as he reports to the Rams' training camp. The Rams open camp at their training facility in Earth City, Mo., a St. Louis suburb Thursday.

    He has been through the Rams' minicamp, but that was spent acclimating rookies to the NFL. Roster spots are on the line beginning Thursday.

    "(The minicamp) was interesting," said Alston, a former Loyola College Prep star. "I thought that we practiced pretty intensely in college, but at the next level, it was different.

    "We were in non-padded practices, but it felt like we were moving around with pads on. There aren't any excuses as far as competition."

    Alston's speed and versatility will be his greatest assets. He's listed at 6-feet, 221 pounds, so he could be implemented in a variety of ways in the NFL.

    Initially, there was talk the Rams could convert him to safety or have him split time between linebacker and safety. He's anticipating a spot at the Will linebacker position behind Pisa Tinoisamoa and Dexter Coakley, whom the Rams signed this offseason from Dallas.

    His speed makes him a dangerous threat at the buck end spot too, blitzing the backfield from a stand-up position on the end.

    The majority of his playing time will likely come on special teams and he's ready to make his mark there.

    "I think we're going to have to sort that out," first-year Rams head coach Scott Linehan told St. Louis reporters.

    "We see him as a guy that is going to be able to do both. I think we'll work him at both. I think we'll start him at safety and work him at some linebacker in our sub packages.

    "He's real similar to, and I'm not sure I'm qualified to say this, but the type of player that Tinoisamoa was coming out. Maybe an undersized Will linebacker typically, but fast, can make a lot of plays and cover a lot of ground."

    For Alston, that first time taking the field with the St. Louis logo etched into his helmet wasn't the eye-opening, morale-shaking experience many rookies claim.

    "From my experience at minicamp, they throw a lot at you each day," Alston said.

    "In the NFL, it's OK to make the first mistake. It's OK because you're learning, but make the same mistake twice is unacceptable.

    It was his meticulousness to perfection he displayed through high school and college that attracted many NFL clubs to him.

    "I enjoined my first experience, but definitely there is a lot going on where you just have to make time to study the playbook," Alston said.

    "That's one of the reasons why the game is so much faster in the NFL because guys are a lot smarter in how they play the game. That makes them faster, there's no hesitation."

    Alston has not signed a contract with the Rams, but that's not unusual. Several NFL teams have not signed all of their draft picks with the majority of camps opening this weekend.

    St. Louis did sign five of its 10 draft picks by Tuesday afternoon. The club signed former LSU defensive tackle Claude Wroten to a four-year deal Tuesday afternoon.

    The Rams selected Wroten with the 68th overall pick in the third round.

    St. Louis signed fourth-round pick Victor Adeyanju and seventh-round picks Tim McGarigle and Tony Palmer on Monday night. Seventh-round pick Mark Setterstrom signed on Thursday.

    "I'm very optimistic about the signing of our draft picks," Linehan said. "We have four signed at this point.

    "I'd be very surprised if we don't have everybody, but maybe (first-round pick Tye Hill) by this Thursday morning practice.

    "The goal is to have them in to not miss anything. You know how things go. We'd like to have them out for every practice and have them all here."

  2. #2
    RamsFan4ever's Avatar
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    Re: Alston's moment to shine comes

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Vernellis
    Dexter Coakley, whom the Rams signed this offseason from Dallas.
    We got Coakley last offseason...

    I would like to see him play at S, but i dont think that He'll get playing time at WLB. I thought one of the backup Battles Were Coakley VS Alston, but i guess not. Good Find!

  3. #3
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Alston's moment to shine comes

    His speed makes him a dangerous threat at the buck end spot too, blitzing the backfield from a stand-up position on the end.
    This is Haslett's specialty, and the main reason I believe somebody on this defense will make the pro bowl. Haslett's "buck end" has generated a consistent pass rush threat over and over again. However, I've never heard of him doing it with someone as small as Alston (221 lbs). Former Haslett buck ends include....Charlie Clemons (250), Greg Lloyd (235), Kevin Greene (240), Carlos Emmons (250), Joey Porter (245), and Jason Gildon (255). Should be interesting to see Haslett use a buck who's 20-30 lbs lighter than his previous bucks.

    Also, this is a return to his roots for Haslett. He always used a buck end in Pittsburgh and began doing so in NO, but ever since 2002 he went with a standard 4-3 base, leading to the emergence of Grant and Howard at End. Ironically enough, the last time he used a buck end (2001), there was a penetrating 3-technique tackle roaming the inside of the front 4 by the name of.......La'roi Glover.

    Can Glover on the inside mean a re-birth of the (as Haslett calls it) "pro bowl position", the buck end? Time will tell.


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