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    Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    STL Rams

    Looker Not A Happy Camper
    By Howard Balzer Thursday, October 16, 2008
    Rams wide receiver Dane Looker was back on the practice field Wednesday after a tumultuous two weeks. And while he was certainly glad to be working again after the emotional ups and downs he had experienced, the disappointing downside is that there likely won't be a role for him when the Cowboys come to town Sunday.
    He is also upset that the team wanted to place him on injured reserve, a move he did not support.
    The saga began Sept. 28 when Looker received a vicious hit in the team's game against the Buffalo Bills. He suffered a concussion on the play, and went through the usual tests that players do when they experience a head injury.
    What followed were nearly two weeks of uncertainty as doctors tried to figure out what was causing an abnormality on his brain. It was not related to the concussion and had possibly been there for years. Doctors checked for an aneurysm and finally came to the conclusion it was an abnormal artery for which, according to what doctors told Looker, there are only about 150 cases in the world. The official diagnosis is a dolichoectatic artery. The artery is bigger in size and rounder than what is usually the case.
    Said Looker, "(The doctors) are not sure if itís something Iíve developed over the course of the last year or couple of years, they donít really know. Itís not a hereditary thing so itís something I probably wasnít born with; there are so few cases in the world that they donít know exactly what causes it.Ē

    Doctors insisted there's no reason Looker shouldn't continue playing football.
    He said, ďThereís nothing that is going to prevent me from playing football for this team, any other team or any time in the future. I want to pretty much make that clear, because I donít want to be labeled as someone who has an injury that forces them to not play football. Iíll continue to get MRIs, probably in six months and then either every six months or every year from then on just to make sure. They said thereís only about 150 cases of this in the world and they said that most likely Iíll be able to live my life and the artery wonít change in size and Iíll live a normal life besides the fact that Iíll have to get it monitored.
    "He said, in some instances there is a chance for brain hemorrhage or stroke. Thatís a very, very limited chance and itís very unlikely so itís not something that Iíll have to be worried about every day. Itís definitely not something Iím going to have to worry about, the chance of those things (happening), if I play football.Ē

    But it was easy to see Looker is worried about his future with the Rams. The team clearly moved to add speed to the receiving corps with the selection of Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton in the draft. Avery has begun to contribute and Burton returned to practice Wednesday after missing three games with a knee injury.

    Their development, along with the elevation of Derek Stanley from the practice squad had Looker downcast Wednesday. Avery, Burton and Stanley will be active Sunday, along with Torry Holt and Dante Hall. That could leave Looker on the outside looking in. And he wasn't happy about it.
    He said, "I was fighting very hard to come back and play football. To be honest with you, I'm a little disappointed that it looks like my role's going to be highly diminished."Unfortunately for Looker, the move to the younger players makes sense. Guys like Avery, Burton and Stanley are potentially the team's future at wide receiver. And every snap they get now will make them better tomorrow.

    MORE ON HASLETT'S CONTRACT
    Amid various reports concerning a provision in Haslett's contract that calls for him to automatically be named the head coach if the team wins a certain number of games under his watch, the Post-Dispatch reported the language is being negotiated, but that there is no agreement yet. The report also said the team is making sure such a contract stipulation is permissible under the Rooney Rule, which calls for teams hiring a head coach to interview at least one minority candidate.As reported here recently, an NFL source told me that the league considers Haslett an interim coach and that even if the team wants to rehire him, they would still be required to interview a minority after the season. Thus, any contract language like what is being discussed could trigger a fine from the league.

    It seems too convenient that the original story was reported widely over the weekend that the clause existed, and then suddenly two days later it was supposedly only being talked about. That lends credence to a source that told me the team wanted the existence of the supposed clause "out there" as a motivation for the players.

    RICHIE TALKS
    Not surprisingly, there was a large crowd around guard Richie Incognito in the Rams' locker room Wednesday as he frankly talked about how he knows he has to control himself.

    "I did not know there was a rule for cursing but I guess there is," Incognito said. "Obviously, looking back, I should have kept my mouth shut, picked up everybody off the ground and got back in the huddle. It could have potentially cost us the game. That would have been catastrophic. It was a big mistake on my part but I just got caught in the heat of the moment and my mouth got running.

    "Honestly, I did not think it was all that bad but one of the refs took offense to it and he flagged me. I wasnít even talking to the ref who flagged me. But I let my emotions get the best of me and said something I probably should not have said.Ē

    Both coach Jim Haslett and quarterback Marc Bulger insist Incognito is a lot more in control than he used to be.

    Said Haslett, "People get on him, but I think he has grown up since Iíve been here and I donít think youíll see the stuff that you saw the other day. He understands where heís at right now and the leagueís not going to tolerate it and I donít think youíll see it. I do like to see him play like the way he did because he played a heck of a game and I think heís smart enough and heís hopefully matured enough to know that itís not going to happen anymore.Ē
    Bulger said, "I think he has calmed down a lot the last couple years. He has matured a lot. He got a little carried away last week but from where he was when he entered into the league and now, is like night and day.ĒIncognito added, ďIt is one of those things when you are in the heat of the battle. It wasnít like I took a shot at anybody, I wasnít trying to hurt anybody, I was just trying to get my teammates up and I was trying to keep the game going. I have to learn from my mistakes. I have to keep my mouth shut and get back in the huddle."Of course, he realizes officials are watching. When asked if he thinks he's a marked man, Incognito said, "Big-time marked man. I think I have been marked since I came into this league. The refs every week are looking out for 68; 68 does this and 68 does that. This is the first game I got a flag all year, so I'm sure I will be marked for the rest of the year.Ē

    COACH RICK
    Haslett praised the job Rick Venturi did as defensive coordinator in Sunday's win over Washington.Said Haslett, ďHe was calm, actually he did a good job; he was nice and calm, I was kind of surprised, I kept looking at him, I didnít have to yell at him to get off the field and he did a great job. Heís an animated guy. I called two plays, they screwed up, but everything else was pretty good."After that (two bad calls), I said, 'All right, you got it. You can tell that heís done it a long time and heís been in pro football, heís been a coordinator for a long time. Itís just like riding a bike for him, he just got back on it and did a good job of calling the game.Ē

    Asked if he feels obsolete, Haslett said, ďThatís all right. As long as we win, thatís good. And Rick and I have been together for so long that we kind of think alike and we see things a lot alike, so thatís a good thing.Ē
    Haslett is able to make fun of himself. He told how linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa approached him on the sideline during the game. Said Haslett, "Pisa came up to me and said, 'What do you think of the new coordinator? Pretty good huh.' And I go, 'Get away from me Pisa.' "

    SIMPLY NOTING
    *Running back Antonio Pittman, who has missed two games because of a leg injury, practiced on a limited basis and will likely sit out one more game. "I'm feeling good, real good," Pittman said. Newly acquired running back Kenneth Darby is expected to dress Sunday as the third running back and play on special teams. Ö Left tackle Orlando Pace (thigh/quad) did work in individual drills Wednesday, and is still considered questionable for Sunday's game against Dallas. If Pace can't play, Adam Goldberg will start at left tackle. Ö QB Marc Bulger had some soreness in his jammed finger, and split snaps with Trent Green with the first unit Wednesday. "We just wanted to be cautious today, but I threw fine."

    *Cornerback Fakhir Brown worked for the first unit Wednesday, two weeks after being released by the Rams. Asked how Brown looked, Haslett said, ďWell, I didnít really hone in on him, but I thought he was fine. We worked him out yesterday. (Secondary coach) (Ron) Milus put him through a workout and heís in great shape and obviously he knows the defense. The limited time I watched him I thought he moved well and obviously he has a good understanding of the defense.Ē

    *Numerous coaches, along with broadcaster Jim Hanifan, said Incognito played one of his best games as a Ram Sunday. Apparently, it rubbed off on right tackle Alex Barron, who also played one of his better games against the Redskins.


    Copyright 2008 by insideSTL


  2. #2
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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    *Numerous coaches, along with broadcaster Jim Hanifan, said Incognito played one of his best games as a Ram Sunday.
    Absolutely! Which is why I don't understand the "cut him" cries from so many. Go back and watch the game; the "bubbles" in the pocket were coming from Cogs. Cogs was creating gaps in the running game. Cogs was hitting 2nd level effectively (just ask Fletcher).

    I hope he learned from the penalty.
    I hope more he maintains his level of play.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    It was a **** call by a chicken-**** ref, and oh, by the way..., can someone please tell me how many times the league's dirtiest player has been fined?

    Anyone?

    Oh...that's right. He hasn't.

    And if I'm not mistaken, he also hadn't been penalised yet this year.

    So, for all you knee-jerkers, get back to jerking what you're used to...
    and leave Cogs alone, or I'll tell him what you said.
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

  4. #4
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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Absolutely! Which is why I don't understand the "cut him" cries from so many. Go back and watch the game; the "bubbles" in the pocket were coming from Cogs. Cogs was creating gaps in the running game. Cogs was hitting 2nd level effectively (just ask Fletcher).

    I hope he learned from the penalty.
    I hope more he maintains his level of play.
    I'm with you there. A few people ranted that he was overrated just because of his fiery attitude and that his actual play was worthless - really, how many people actually watched him the whole game or in any games previously? I bet if they did they'd see that he's one of our best linemen. You'll rarely see him lose a matchup once he's locked onto a guy.

    Despite a few of his bonehead penalties, we can't afford to lose him. I certainly haven't heard many complaints about him missing blocks this year (with one exception I remember where someone ran right by he and Barron to sack Bulger).

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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Here is what i dont understand when people compliment the play of cogs. everyone seems to agree that our interior o line stinks. we all know leckey is terrible, but jacob bell was a highly regarded guy when we got him. Can it really all be on leckey? I think cogs is very talented but wildly inconsistent. of course i wouldnt cut him, but i am not convinced that he is a part of our future.

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    evil disco man's Avatar
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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    Can it really all be on leckey?
    It could be. The Rams' center situation coming into the season was ugly. They let Romberg go at the end of last season, allowed him to hang out in limbo for a while when any other team could've signed him, then finally re-signed him as the starter. Not a great signal of confidence in him.

    Even in camp it must've been obvious that they wanted an improvement at the position because the team tried out both Setterstrom and Incognito there. Romberg hurts his hand and the even less talented Leckey takes over. Center is a position that's often overlooked but I think it should be a big priority for the Rams to address after the season.

    The center's job is to read the defensive front and make the line calls to pick up blitzes. If Leckey is making bad calls (on top of his terrible blocking) it affects the entire line and can make the interior as a whole look clueless. It's not as hard for Barron and Pace to take care of guys on the edge when they basically have to take the most extreme outside blitzer/rusher every time.

    Jacob Bell was highly regarded coming in, but he has been oft-injured since coming to the Rams and that could be affecting his play on the interior as well.

    All that said, I wish I had game tape to look at as I don't get to see many Rams games and have to rely on highlights, NFL.com's game tracker, and various post-game reports to make my judgments, so I'd trust the opinions more of those who have gotten to watch the players individually. However, I'd like to see more specifics about which players are missing what blocks instead of generalizations about the whole line.

  7. #7
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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Quote Originally Posted by VegasRam View Post
    So, for all you knee-jerkers, get back to jerking what you're used to... and leave Cogs alone, or I'll tell him what you said.
    Well, I must admit I was one of those "knee-jerkers" that called for him to be cut because it's not the first time something like this has happened and I was absolutely beside myself when the penalty occured. I've calmed down now and really hope Cogs can get his you know what together because I do think he has valus as member of the line. I'm not sure how many more game-affecting penalties the Rams can absorb though as the result of his wreckless behavior.

  8. #8
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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Just so you know, Brett's agent was talking with the Rams all along. Remember, we signed Brett from the Jax practice squad so there wasn't anyone lse knocking. They used his size as a negotiating point. I told him that it isn't the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. Bell signed that huge contract and weighed 5 pounds less that Brett at the time. (293 vs 298). The bsiness of football is fickle in Earth City.

    Quote Originally Posted by evil disco man View Post
    It could be. The Rams' center situation coming into the season was ugly. They let Romberg go at the end of last season, allowed him to hang out in limbo for a while when any other team could've signed him, then finally re-signed him as the starter. Not a great signal of confidence in him.

    Even in camp it must've been obvious that they wanted an improvement at the position because the team tried out both Setterstrom and Incognito there. Romberg hurts his hand and the even less talented Leckey takes over. Center is a position that's often overlooked but I think it should be a big priority for the Rams to address after the season.

    The center's job is to read the defensive front and make the line calls to pick up blitzes. If Leckey is making bad calls (on top of his terrible blocking) it affects the entire line and can make the interior as a whole look clueless. It's not as hard for Barron and Pace to take care of guys on the edge when they basically have to take the most extreme outside blitzer/rusher every time.

    Jacob Bell was highly regarded coming in, but he has been oft-injured since coming to the Rams and that could be affecting his play on the interior as well.

    All that said, I wish I had game tape to look at as I don't get to see many Rams games and have to rely on highlights, NFL.com's game tracker, and various post-game reports to make my judgments, so I'd trust the opinions more of those who have gotten to watch the players individually. However, I'd like to see more specifics about which players are missing what blocks instead of generalizations about the whole line.

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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Did he really get a 15 yard penalty for cursing? I have not seen the game footage yet and I find it hard to believe that they call penalties for using a few colorful words. Can you see anything physical from that penalty?
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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Quote Originally Posted by UtterBlitz View Post
    Did he really get a 15 yard penalty for cursing? I have not seen the game footage yet and I find it hard to believe that they call penalties for using a few colorful words. Can you see anything physical from that penalty?
    He was cursing at an official I believe when a second official threw the flag.

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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    He was cursing at an official I believe when a second official threw the flag.
    Are there rules that say that you can't curse at an official?

    I know in soccer we can get yellow and red carded for talking back to a ref. They will warn people about it sometimes, and then other times out come the cards without warning.
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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Quote Originally Posted by UtterBlitz View Post
    Are there rules that say that you can't curse at an official?

    I know in soccer we can get yellow and red carded for talking back to a ref. They will warn people about it sometimes, and then other times out come the cards without warning.
    I would think "unsportsmanlike conduct" covers a wide swath in the NFL and the last guy on the field you want to curse at is one with a yellow flag in his pocket.

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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    I would think "unsportsmanlike conduct" covers a wide swath in the NFL and the last guy on the field you want to curse at is one with a yellow flag in his pocket.
    I agree. I just don't think that I have ever seen anyone called for it before especially at such at critical point in the game. I am glad the Josh Brown made the kick so that we don't have to discuss this penalty forever.
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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Quote Originally Posted by UtterBlitz View Post
    I am glad the Josh Brown made the kick so that we don't have to discuss this penalty forever.
    I have a feeling Cogs feels the same way. Brown just might have saved his career as a Ram.

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    Re: Balzer on Looker, Haz, Cogs and more ..

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    I have a feeling Cogs feels the same way. Brown just might have saved his career as a Ram.
    A former Husker saves another former Husker.

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