Veteran tackle joins depleted line
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch08/02/2004
MACOMB, Ill. - Help arrived Sunday night in a big package. A 6-foot-6, 333-pound package, to be precise.
Tackle Greg Randall, a five-year NFL veteran, hustled from his hometown of Houston to Western Illinois University, signed a one-year contract with the Rams, and was on the practice field Monday morning. Randall was hired to shore up an offensive line that has become short on personnel during training camp.
"I'm very excited. I'm just trying to come out here and work hard," said Randall, who has huffing and puffing a bit after a full-pads workout that was cut to about 90 minutes because of a thunderstorm. No afternoon practice was scheduled.
Randall, working at right tackle with the second team, took part in full-contact action. "Obviously, we feel pretty good about him to bring him in like this and throw him in there like we did," coach Mike Martz said. "We put him in a live situation for about 10 plays out here, and he was able to perform pretty well."
With Orlando Pace absent during contract negotiations and fellow tackle Kyle Turley (back) and center Dave Wohlabaugh (hip) out with injuries, 60 percent of the front five is missing. Grant Williams, Andy King and Scott Tercero have been filling in on the first unit, but depth had become a concern.
Randall, 26, was New England's fourth-round pick (127th overall) in the 2000 draft out of Michigan State. He started 23 games for the Patriots over three seasons; he played against the Rams in the Super Bowl following the '01 season. He was traded to Houston and started all 16 games at right tackle last year for the Texans, then signed with San Francisco in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
His time with the ***** was short: He was released in June. "They sent me a letter," Randall said. "Nobody called me."
More than a month passed before anyone else called, either. "I was a little worried, but you can't get too down about it," he said. "If you don't get picked up, you've got to move on and do something else."
For now, Randall is undergoing a crash course with the Rams' playbook. "It's tough; there's a lot to learn," he said. "You have to try to figure out what you're supposed to do on a play instead of just relaxing and playing. But it's a great offense."
Plus, he's trying to get into football shape as rapidly as possible. "Being in pads and then going against people live is completely different from just getting up and running," Randall said. The opportunity to resume his career "means a lot to me," he said. "I'm happy to be here, and I just want to go out here and work hard and try to do my business."
Rookie is hurt
The Rams were jolted when defensive end Anthony Hargrove, a promising rookie, went down in obvious pain near the end of practice. What appeared initially to be a major injury turned out to be a minor ankle sprain, though.
"It was scary at first, because it felt like I broke it or something," said Hargrove, who slipped on the wet grass while pursuing running back Dusty McGrorty. "I guess it was the first shock that really scared me. But I should be all right."
Rams sign ex-Cardinal
The Rams made another roster move early Monday evening, signing defensive back Tom Knight and releasing running back Adam Matthews. Knight, 29, was a first-round pick, No. 9 overall, by the Arizona Cardinals in 1997 out of Iowa.
Knight started 53 games in five seasons for the Big Red. He played for Baltimore last season. He is a cornerback, but at 6-0, 202, may be used at safety for St. Louis.
Matthews was a rookie free agent from Northern Colorado.
Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
Reporter Bill Coats