Brown Enjoys New View
Brown Enjoys New View
Friday, May 9, 2008
By Nick Wagoner
If Josh Brown came to St. Louis from Seattle in search of escaping the relentless drizzle of rain and dreary days, he certainly has yet to find that relief.
As the drops keep falling and the temperatures keep dropping, Brown can’t help but feel like he’s still playing in the Pacific Northwest.
“There is lots and lots of rain,” Brown said. “I am sick of rain. But that’s what happens in the Midwest in April and May.”
Brown speaks with some authority about the vicissitudes of weather in the nation’s bread basket.. He grew up in Oklahoma and attended college in Nebraska.
While things might seem familiar to the Rams’ prized free agent addition outside the Russell Training Center, they couldn’t be more different when he steps on to the football field.
After the retirement of long time Ram and record holding kicker Jeff Wilkins, the Rams wasted no time in finding a long term replacement. To do so, they turned to Brown, signing him to a lucrative five-year contract on March 2.
The signing of Brown served dual purposes, though as the Rams not only found a qualified replacement for Wilkins but also weakened NFC West Division rival Seattle.
“It is a little odd,” Brown said. “For so long you concentrated on making sure this team never beat you and now to be on the other side of the ball it is taking a little getting used to. Things are going well, I am happy with the change and looking forward to getting ready to play.”
For Brown, the choice wasn’t terribly difficult. A native of Tulsa, Okla., Brown wanted to move closer to home and when he was given the chance to become the highest paid kicker in the league and be as close to home as possible, the decision was easy.
As the Rams’ full squad minicamp opened Friday afternoon, Brown expected to hear plenty about his exploits with the Seahawks. Brown had developed a reputation not only as one of the strongest legs in the league with Seattle but also for being a Ram killer in his time there.
In 2006, Brown kicked a pair of last-minute field goals, including a 54-yarder in St. Louis to beat the Rams twice. Those kicks kept the Rams from winning the division and ultimately out of the playoffs.
“I think every player on this team has probably ribbed me about that at least once,” Brown said. “It’s kind of building camaraderie, guys are joking with me about it and are able to joke now. I hope that is a good reputation that I bring that we are capable of finishing that way and I am making the big kick.”
Brown apparently has fit in right away with his new team. Players are quick to crack jokes but also acknowledge his ability to perform under pressure.
Of course, everyone is well aware that Brown isn’t exactly stepping into some small shoes. Wilkins holds almost every franchise record in scoring and kicking and was a fearless competitor that had the respect of all of his teammates and coaches.
“The whole thing with him retiring with all of the emotions we went through during the off-season was sad,” coach Scott Linehan said. “It was really sad to see his career come to an end. To have Josh come in and fill his role is a bittersweet kind of a deal, but it is nice to have Josh here. I’m glad we had a chance to replace Jeff with a guy of his caliber, that’s for sure.”
Brown has arrived in St. Louis this weekend hoping to start building some of that respect once reserved for Wilkins among his new teammates.
“More than anything, it’s just a matter of getting to know my teammates and getting a good rhythm built up with my snapper and holders and you want to build some kind of friendships and camaraderie with your players,” Brown said. “You want people to learn to trust you. You want them to feel like your buddy is out there next to you. That’s kind of the point of this for me is to take time and get to know everybody.”
On the football side, Brown will slowly and methodically work his way into game kicking shape while ensuring that he doesn’t overwork his leg before the season. A good part of the weekend will also be spent getting familiar with snapper Chris Massey and holder Dane Looker.
And with all of the rain expected to continue for most of the weekend, Brown will have ample opportunity to work on kicking indoors, something he eagerly awaits doing when the real games start.
“That’s a fantastic thing,” Brown said. “That probably puts the biggest smile on my face out of this whole thing. It’s going to be great to concentrate on being inside and not having to worry about Mother Nature all that much and you are able to focus in on what I have to do rather than contend with her at the same time.”
MISSING IN ACTION: With more than 80 Rams stuffed inside the indoor training facility Friday afternoon, it would have been easy to miss the trio of players not in attendance.
Three players listed on the team’s roster were not in attendance Friday for various reasons, all excused.
Safety Todd Johnson was in Florida for a charity function he had long since planned and Linehan gave him the excuse long ago. Johnson won’t practice Saturday but is expected to return in time for Sunday’s practice.
Second-year center Dustin Fry was also not in attendance because of a little obligation called his wedding that he also had planned a long time ago.
“He actually checked with me in the winter time and this was going to be our rookie mini-camp,” Linehan said, laughing. “I changed it on him, so I guess I allowed him to get married.”
Tackle Rob Petitti was gone for more serious reasons. Petitti suffered a torn Achilles tendon about a month ago in the offseason program and isn’t expected to be able to do much of anything for another six months.
In addition, Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard, whom the Rams had planned to sign as an undrafted free agent, was not with the team for Friday’s practice and will not be with the team for the foreseeable future.
Bernard failed a physical believed to be related to knee surgery he had before the Emerald Bowl in December, according to team sources.
INJURY UPDATES: Of the countless number of players returning from injury in 2008, all of them were able to participate in at least portions of Friday’s practice and will continue to do so throughout the weekend.
A quick rundown of those players and their participation:
- DE Leonard Little was cleared for some team work, but the Rams are taking a cautious approach with him this weekend. He did do some of the drills, but was limited and will continue to be as he continues to heal from toe surgery.
- DL Adam Carriker is still rehabbing the torn labrum in his shoulder but everyone is surprised by how fast he is progressing. Carriker did most of his work in non-contact drills but his recovery is coming along well.
- LB Pisa Tinoisamoa appears fully recovered and did almost all of the work in Friday’s practice. Tinoisamoa is coming back from an MCL injury that landed him on injured reserve in 2007.
- T Orlando Pace was limited in drills as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury. He did some work but nothing in contact. Alex Barron took his place at left tackle with the first team.
- G Richie Incognito and C Mark Setterstrom participated in all of the practice. Incognito worked as the starting right guard with Setterstrom working as the backup center behind Brett Romberg.
- OL Adam Goldberg is also recovering well from a knee injury and worked as the first string right tackle with Barron on the left side.
- CB Tye Hill, who is coming off a season ending wrist injury, did all of the work and will continue that throughout the weekend.
RAM BITS: In case anyone forgot that Al Saunders has returned to St. Louis as offensive coordinator, there was an easy recognition of it Friday. Saunders, sporting a vintage Rams Offense “Gotta Go To Work” t-shirt, was his usual high energy self throughout the practice…Tackle Mark LeVoir left practice early with an undisclosed injury…Chris Draft worked with the first team at strong side linebacker with Quinton Culberson also getting some reps... No decision has been made official about the training camp destination though it could be done by the weekend. Concordia University in Wisconsin is the favorite.