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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Brian Leonard set for all-purpose duty

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Friday, May. 16 2008

    As if Brian Leonard didn't already have enough to do, now the Rams plan to
    deploy him on multiple special-teams units. And Leonard couldn't be happier.

    "I like it; one of the big reasons they drafted me was to come in and be
    versatile," said Leonard, the team's second-round draft choice last year out of
    Rutgers. "I'll be playing a little bit of running back, a little bit of
    fullback, special teams. I think I'm best when I'm in different roles at
    different times."

    The challenge was heightened with the arrival of Al Saunders as offensive
    coordinator. Now Leonard is toiling in his third offense in as many years.

    "I think it's an awesome offense, but they say it's one of the hardest offenses
    to learn, and one of the most complex," said Leonard, 24. "It's a spread
    offense, and we've got a lot of different stuff in there. We throw to the backs
    a lot, screens, all that kind of stuff. It looks like they're going to get the
    ball in the running back's hands a lot this year."

    Leonard played in all 16 games during his rookie season, rushing for 303 on 86
    carries and picking up 183 yards on 30 receptions. In four starts at running
    back for an injured Steven Jackson, Leonard rolled up 222 yards on 58 carries
    including a 102-yard, 18-carry outing vs. Arizona and had nine catches for 57
    yards.

    Not bad for a guy with two bum shoulders.

    "I felt like I was a freshman in college, strength-wise," Leonard said. "I was
    weak, didn't have a great punch, blocking was tough. I couldn't do any
    upper-body" work in the weight room.

    All the while, Leonard struggled to adjust to the NFL many miles removed from
    his hometown of Gouverneur, in upstate New York, where in high school he rushed
    for 5,854 yards and rolled up a state-record 696 points.

    "I feel sorry for those rookies coming in now," he said. "It's such a tough
    year to get through. You have to come out and perform at your best, and also
    live a different kind of life. This year, it feels so much better and I'm so
    much more confident."

    And much healthier after having cleanup surgery on both joints Jan. 11. "Now
    I'm probably the strongest I've ever been," Leonard said. "I've got my upper
    body a little bulkier, and my legs are stronger. I've put on some good weight."

    The 6-foot-1 Leonard is at 234 pounds, about 10 more than last year. All the
    better to withstand the rigors of lead-blocking, his primary duty when he and
    Jackson are in the backfield together.

    "Brian's handling a lot of things that I don't think we could've put on him a
    year ago," coach Scott Linehan said. "He's going to play fullback for us in
    certain packages, and he'll be a halfback for us in others. He's got to know
    both, and he's got to be good at both."

    A busy and productive Leonard figures to be a key component if the Rams are
    to rebound from their 3-13 dive last year. Turnarounds aren't foreign to him,
    though.

    At Rutgers, he was on sub-.500 teams his first two seasons. The Scarlet Knights
    improved to 7-5 in 2005 and then 11-2 in '06, the best record since an 11-0
    campaign in 1976.

    "So I've been through it," said Leonard, who started at running back for three
    years before switching to fullback as a senior. "We've got to come back strong
    this year. That's what we did at Rutgers, and I feel like it's kind of the same
    type of thing.

    "Because there's a different vibe on this team. I can feel it."


  2. #2
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Re: Brian Leonard set for all-purpose duty

    "I feel sorry for those rookies coming in now," he said. "It's such a tough
    year to get through. You have to come out and perform at your best, and also
    live a different kind of life. This year, it feels so much better and I'm so
    much more confident."
    Sometimes it take a year or so for a guy to get rolling. I hope BL takes his game to the next level.

    "Because there's a different vibe on this team. I can feel it."
    Last edited by Rambos; -05-16-2008 at 11:40 AM.

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    Re: Brian Leonard set for all-purpose duty

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Sometimes it take a year or so for a guy to get rolling. I hope BL takes his game to the next level.
    Exactly Rambos. I know that Brian Leonard is going to do good this year. He's going to have a huge role in the squad, I think in order for him to prove to us that he was worth that second round pick is by fulfilling this role.

  4. #4
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    Re: Brian Leonard set for all-purpose duty

    I'm hoping brian can develop into an H back type of player like Chris Cooley was used by Saunders with the skins. I think it is unrealistic to try and turn Leonard into a crushing lead blocking full back like lorenzo neal. Linehan had a vision of using leornard in unique ways, hopefully saunders can make those dreams reality.

  5. #5
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    Re: Brian Leonard set for all-purpose duty

    Quote Originally Posted by C-Mob 71 View Post
    I'm hoping brian can develop into an H back type of player like Chris Cooley was used by Saunders with the skins. I think it is unrealistic to try and turn Leonard into a crushing lead blocking full back like lorenzo neal. Linehan had a vision of using leornard in unique ways, hopefully saunders can make those dreams reality.

    Very true. We need that crushing fullback though, and this man is not it.

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