Carriker Hoping to Solidify Starting Spot
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
When rumor became reality for rookie Adam Carriker during the Rams’ organized team activities, he took it upon himself to do everything he can to be prepared for his new job as the Rams’ de facto starting nose tackle.
Sure, the speculation about Carriker moving from end to defensive tackle had already been declared by coach Scott Linehan but it wasn’t clear which tackle spot the first-round choice from Nebraska would be occupying. Soon after the team used the 13th pick on Carriker, though, it became clear that he would immediately be in the mix on the inside.
At the rookie minicamp, Carriker got his first real taste of the nose tackle position. But it was still unclear if he would remain there until the team dealt incumbent Jimmy Kennedy a couple of weeks ago.
“Friday morning I woke up, my wife is like, ‘Jimmy Kennedy? Isn’t he the other nose guard,’” Carriker said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ She said, ‘He got traded.’”
Immediately, Carriker became the odds on favorite to play the nose tackle position. In conjunction with that, Carriker knew he had some work to do. It started by digging his nose into the defensive playbook as early and often as possible.
Right after the draft, Carriker arrived in St. Louis and received his playbook. He looked the most comfortable of the rookies at the rookie minicamp and took his first round of repetitions at nose tackle in that camp.
“When I first got here, I was like I’m the rookie, I have to learn this whole defense, I have to catch up and learn a new position,” Carriker said. “Playing a new position, I feel that even more to be honest with you just because I want to hold that spot now. Right now, I am earning that spot and I want to keep it.”
Carriker says the mental aspect is just one part of making the move to nose tackle. He played some two gap tackle at Nebraska, but not enough to feel immediately comfortable upon arrival in St. Louis.
“It’s a lot closer and things happen a lot faster at the nose tackle,” Carriker said. “Three technique, you have a little more space and you’re further away from the linemen.”
Because of the nose tackle’s proximity to the line of scrimmage and the ball, it’s important for Carriker to be big enough to handle the sudden impact of a lineman or two getting on top of him so quickly. In addition, he needs to maintain the speed and quickness to get off the ball and get to the backfield.
To that end, Carriker has been working to add weight. He weighed in around 296 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, but has since been putting on weight and was about 313 pounds at the team’s full squad minicamp.
“I’ve been right around 310 consistently,” Carriker said. “I’ve just gradually put on weight. Right after the combine, I wanted to put on a little bit of weight because I knew I was going to be a 3-4 end or an inside guy somewhere depending on who took me. As soon as I found out the Rams took me and they wanted me to play nose guard, I tried to get up to 305 by the time I got here. I put on about five pounds in the last month that I’ve been here.”
Clearly, Carriker has made the physical strides to be an impact player as a rookie. He also appears to be growing into the mental aspects and has quickly become a favorite of Linehan and the defensive coaching staff.
“He's just old school," Linehan said. “He comes to work, he doesn't say anything, and he always does his best. He does things with great effort and pride, and that's what you want any player to do, let alone a rookie. He has that right mindset. He's going to be a pretty special player.”
For the time being, it appears Carriker will be firmly entrenched as the starter at nose tackle. It’s not out of the question for the Rams to make a move on another nose tackle between now and training camp, but Carriker plans on doing whatever it takes to nail down the starting position.
“I still have a long way to go,” Carriker said. “There’s still training camp, there’s still preseason games. Right now, I have a job, and it’s my job to hold onto it and earn that job. I’m a little surprised, but now that I’ve been blessed with that, I plan to keep it.”