Carriker Feeling Comfortable at Tackle
Monday, August 13, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
For the better part of the first series in his first live action NFL game, Adam Carriker was nervous.
That’s a common emotion among rookies making their NFL debut, but Carriker has been anything but a normal rookie in his first NFL training camp. Rest assured, it didn’t take long for Carriker to get the butterflies out of his stomach.
“After about the first series, I felt like this wasn’t really any different than practice,” Carriker said. “It was just like a practice. It’s good and I feel comfortable in there. It feels like home now.”
Judging by the way the coaching staff and his teammates have taken to Carriker, he has been at home since arriving in St. Louis. After the Rams grabbed him with the 13th selection in April’s NFL Draft, Carriker was asked to move from defensive end to defensive tackle.
Soon after, he was asked to move to nose tackle, a position with little glory and multiple blockers working with the common goal of stopping you from penetrating the backfield.
But Carriker was not fazed by the task of switching from the edge to lining up right over the football.
“He’s just a guy that will do anything you ask him to do,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “He’s the kind of guy who is all about the team; it’s not just about him. If I asked him to go play corner, he’d probably go and try to do it. That’s the type of kid he is. From that standpoint, we thought you can’t find a better guy than that to try to come in and play that position.”
Carriker is adapting to his new position about as well as one could hope. In his preseason debut against the Vikings, he played about 24 snaps, good for most of the first half. Of those plays, he spent about 16 at nose tackle with the rest at the three technique.
According to Haslett and head coach Scott Linehan, Carriker performed better at the nose tackle. That’s a bit of a surprise considering Carriker had some limited experience playing a position similar to the three technique at times at Nebraska.
It’s also a testament to how far Carriker has come in a short time.
“Adam did a tremendous job in there playing his first game live, where he had to play an interior position against a couple of Pro Bowl offensive linemen and he really held his own,” Linehan said. “I thought he did a great job. He actually graded out higher as a nose than he did as a three technique, which you might think differently. I thought he did a great job.”
Minnesota center Matt Birk even complimented Carriker on his play when Linehan asked him about his young tackle after the game. But Carriker is far from a finished product. Haslett would like to see Carriker improve on some of the finer points of the game, particularly the mental aspects.
One part of the game Carriker is growing accustomed to is dealing with multiple blockers. As a nose tackle, there isn’t much glory to be had. The job description includes taking on double teams and tying up offensive linemen to create lanes for linebackers to get to the ball carrier and fellow defensive linemen to get to the quarterback.
Even as Carriker goes through some growing pains, Haslett has no doubts that he will get where he wants to go.
“I don’t think it fazes him at all,” Haslett said. “He knows when he does things not as well as you would like and he tries to fix them. He wants to please you and he wants to do it well. That’s the kind of guys you want on your football team.”
To speed up his learning process, Carriker has turned to his elders on the defensive line. For pass rushing techniques, he has picked the brain of Leonard Little and James Hall. Victor Adeyanju has given him run stuffing tips. But nobody has been of more help than veteran La’Roi Glover.
“The most influential guy has been ‘Glove’,” Carriker said. “He has been helping me out making transition from outside to inside with techniques and reads and stuff like that. You have to be coachable; you have to be willing to do what they tell you to do.”
Only a month or so into his rookie season, Carriker is far from a finished product. With each passing day, though, he is getting closer.
“He has a long ways to go,” Haslett said. “The good thing about it is he will get there because he wants to and I think he’s going to be a good player in the long run.”
Re: Carriker Feeling Comfortable at Tackle
Carriker looked solid against MinneSOta.