Bartell makes a big jump to NFL
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Thursday, Aug. 18 2005
A year ago, Ron Bartell and his Howard University teammates were preparing for
their season-opener against Alabama State. Now, Bartell and the Rams are
getting ready to take on the San Francisco ***** on Sept. 11.
"Big difference ... very big difference," Bartell said, laughing.
"But football is football, wherever you are. I just love playing."
The leap from NCAA Division I-AA to the NFL is considerable. But Bartell was a
second-round draft choice (No. 50 overall) who believed he should've been taken
higher, so he isn't intimidated by the jump.
"I know what I can do," he said. "I know my weaknesses and I know my strengths,
and I think my strengths outweigh my weaknesses. But I'm going to work on my
weaknesses and make them my strengths. I think I'll be all right."
At 6 feet 1 and 208 pounds, Bartell is the biggest of the seven cornerbacks on
the roster. He also played safety in college - he spent two years at Central
Michigan before moving to Howard - but coach Mike Martz likes the physical
presence Bartell has at corner.
"He's a big guy," Martz said. "In terms of an athlete at the position, he's the
whole package, with the size, speed, quickness, agility."
He's plenty raw, though - as can be expected barely three weeks into his NFL
"All those rookies ... need to play a great deal in the preseason and kind of
get a feel for what this league's about."
Bartell got about three quarters' worth of indoctrination last Friday in the
exhibition opener, against Chicago. He played about three quarters in the Rams'
17-13 victory, and figures to get a similar workload Sunday in San Diego.
"It was fun," said Bartell, a Detroit native. "Just to get out there and
compete against some different guys around the league and see how you match up.
.. It was an experience."
With Jerametrius Butler's season already over because of a torn knee ligament
that will be repaired in surgery Monday, Bartell becomes an even more integral
part of the mix in the secondary. DeJuan Groce will assume Butler's first-team
spot alongside Travis Fisher. Bartell will back them up, while also figuring
into the nickel and dime schemes.
"It's a challenge that I welcome," he said. "Butler being out, it's a blow. I
just look at it as an opportunity for everybody. I just want to keep getting
better, and whatever happens, happens. I'm just going to keep trying hard, keep
working hard, going out every day to get better. And if they call on me, I'll
Second-year pro Jeff Smoker, the team's No. 3 quarterback last season, is
battling rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick for that job this year. With the coaches
wanting to get an extended look at Fitzpatrick, a seventh-round draft pick from
Harvard, Smoker had been doing more watching than throwing. Until this week,
that is, when his work in practice increased dramatically.
"It definitely feels good to get in there and get some reps," he said. "It's
just a little bit frustrating sometimes. Having to stand and watch, it's not
something I'm used to. And I did it last year, and now this year again.
"It's harder to learn when you're watching and not getting the reps. But being
the third quarterback during the season, that's what you to have to do."
After getting in for just two series late in the fourth quarter last week,
Smoker could be line for a lengthier stint vs. the Chargers.
"I'll just be ready for anything," he said. "But I can't wait to get out
First-team left guard Claude Terrell, a rookie from New Mexico, sat out
practice Thursday with a calf that was swollen and sore after being
leg-whipped. Martz said he thought Terrell would be ready for Sunday's game.
* Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett returned to the field after missing
two days with a groin injury.
* Guard Darnell Alford was excused from practice because of an
illness in his family.
Re: Bartell makes a big jump to NFL
Sounds like he is improving. I hope he is.