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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Brown was supposed to be part of the solution

    By
    Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    07/16/2007
    Jeff Gordon


    The Rams suffered a needless casualty before training camp even started.

    The NFL tagged starting cornerback Fakhir Brown for a four-game suspension for violating its substance abuse policy, punching a hole in the Rams defense. The unit went a man down for Week One before the inevitable muscle strains and knee tweaks of the summer began piling up.

    Brown is the team’s best cornerback in pass coverage. Former first-round draft pick Tye Hill may become a star some day, but he comes to camp with more confidence than polish.

    Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was counting on Brown to become one of the cornerstone players for the unit that still has much growing to do.

    This is why the Rams signed Brown to a five-year, $12 million contract last year. This is why incumbent Travis Fisher was allowed to depart for free agency.

    This is why veteran Jerametrius Butler got released after spending the 2006 in the Rams doghouse.


    Brown was supposed to lead this otherwise young and unproven group of corners. Brown was supposed to be one of the solutions this year, not one of the problems.

    Even before Brown’s suspension, some NFL experts regarded this secondary as a liability. Former Tennessee Titans GM Floyd Reese summed up this concern for ESPN.com:

    “This team will be in shootouts with their divisional rivals all season. For this reason, the Rams face the same issues as Seattle. The Rams' secondary will have to step up and play better. Poor secondary play may lead to a very disappointing season in St. Louis.”

    For now, Ron Bartell will have to step up and fill a larger role. He has progressed nicely as a utility defensive back, moving from cornerback to safety and back as team needs changed.

    Bartell played both positions in college, but his pass coverage skills are still somewhat raw. Speedy rookie Jonathan Wade must develop more readily and the veteran depth players, starting with Lenny Walls, must get ready to step in as needed.

    The Rams don’t need any more off-field issues on defense. The team must sign rookie defensive lineman Adam Carriker as close to the start of camp as possible.

    The team must hope that defensive tackle Claude Wroten avoids any further off-field issues and any NFL punishment that could result. He was recently charged with criminal damage to property, a misdemeanor, after a dispute with a former girlfriend.

    Given NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s “zero tolerance” policy -- and Wroten’s past citizenship lapses -- he must remain on guard.

    Like Brown, he is being counted on to play a key defensive role this season. In fact, Scout Inc. recently listed Wroten as its “breakout player” for the Rams in a pre-camp analytical piece:

    “We are going out on a limb here on this one because Wroten really hasn't done all that much to distinguish himself at this point of his young career. Jimmy Kennedy has been shipped to Denver and La’ Roi Glover, who sits above Wroten on the depth chart, has been in the league for 12 seasons and is on the decline. The Rams need Wroten to step up in a huge way this season if they are to improve a very suspect defense that really struggled against the run. Wroten is surely capable. He is an explosive upfield penetrator who gets off the ball low and with suddenness. Off-the-field troubles kept him out of the first round of the 2006 draft, but his talent is unmistakable. Now with one season under his belt and a great opportunity to get playing time, Wroten might just blossom. St. Louis is counting on it.”

    For the next week, no news will be good news as Scott Linehan prepares for the start of training camp. Managing the roster will be tough enough once the players begin beating on each other in earnest.

    Injuries are an unfortunate byproduct of hard work. Casualties are inevitable. Team depth and team health will be constant concerns.

    So this team can’t afford to suffer any more losses due to the off-field misbehavior of players who should certainly know better.


  2. #2
    renrawtruk is offline Registered User
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    Re: Brown was supposed to be part of the solution

    Why did we cut Jerametrius Butler again?

    The Rams are 10+ Million under the cap?

    What were the positives of cutting him?

    Wasn't this exactly the reason you don't cut him?

    FYI, he's with the Redskins now.

  3. #3
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Brown was supposed to be part of the solution

    I think that Chavous will step up and be the leader for our young secondary. Hopefully Brown learned his lesson.

  4. #4
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    Re: Brown was supposed to be part of the solution

    Haslett would not play Butler. We don't know why. Maybe he did not get along with someone. Maybe he was not a big special team player. Maybe he was always late to meetings. Maybe he farted a lot in the whirl pool. Maybe he made silly faces and comments about the coaches wives.

    Who knows? Not me. I liked Butler, but a lot of people didn't agree with me. He is gone now. It does not matter to the Rams. Tis history.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Re: Brown was supposed to be part of the solution

    I wished we had picked up another CB in the off-season. A starting CB at that.

  6. #6
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    Re: Brown was supposed to be part of the solution

    Quote Originally Posted by renrawtruk View Post
    Why did we cut Jerametrius Butler again?
    I can name about two million reasons, heh. Hindsight is 20/20, but even if we had Butler, he'd be on the low side of the depth chart because, well, that's where Haslett had him. The Rams seemingly had their top three locked into position (Brown, Hill, and Bartell) and went out and got three other corners on top of that (Rumph, Walls, and Wade). No reason to keep Butler, who wasn't showing up for OTA's mind you, at a $2 million price tag.

  7. #7
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    Re: Brown was supposed to be part of the solution

    I don't regret the Butler decision. Seems like he wasn't happy here with the new coaches, and I'd rather let him have a chance to prove himself somewhere else than have a guy bringing the rest of the team down in the locker room. I have to agree with the article's sentiment, though. Last year Brown seemed like a gem. He was playing a lot better than one would expect from a player of his reputation and salary. He was supposed to be one of those players who was going to help us get this defense turned around, but now he's out for four games and making the franchise look back.

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