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    Carriker looks to take big step with Rams

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    06/05/2009

    Mercifully, only two games remained for the Rams when defensive tackle Adam Carriker was asked in mid-December to describe the season.

    "Incredibly frustrating," he grumbled.

    With losses in those final two outings, the Rams finished 2-14 a year after going 3-13 in Carriker's rookie season. The lousy '08 record was compounded by shoulder and ankle injuries that severely limited Carriker's effectiveness. MORE RAMS
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    Five months later, the team's first-round draft pick (No. 13 overall) in 2007 is feeling frisky again. "It's a load off your mind, for one thing," he said. "Physically, you're a hundred percent. It's a huge difference, just knowing you're healthy."

    Carriker's problems began when he tore the labrum in his left shoulder in the last game of the '07 season. As a result, he couldn't work in the weight room until well into the preseason conditioning program.

    "I couldn't even lift my shoulder up after surgery," said Carriker, who reluctantly acknowledged that he didn't regain full strength all last season.

    "During the game I didn't think about it as much; you forget everything else in the world but football," he said. "It was more getting ready for the game, more of a practice deal."

    An ankle injury kept him out of one game in late October and lingered for the rest of the year. Then he hurt his right shoulder Nov. 23 vs. Chicago. His surgically repaired joint "actually became my good shoulder," he pointed out.

    After getting 45 tackles and two sacks as a rookie, the former Nebraska defensive end fell off to 40 tackles, with no sacks, last year. He had no real home on the line; he spent time at both tackle positions and at end, adding to his difficulties.

    The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Carriker is stronger and "looks like he's a little quicker," coach Steve Spagnuolo observed between Thursday's two minicamp practices at Rams Park.

    Carriker is strictly a left tackle in defensive coordinator Ken Flajole's scheme. He'll line up in different spots, based on the offense's alignment. But always on the same side.

    "It's nice to kind of get homed in on one thing," Carriker said. "I'll just be on the left side and ... trying to wreak some havoc."

    Previously, the Rams' defensive linemen were told to hold their gaps, no matter what. Under Flajole, they have more leeway to finesse and try to pressure the quarterback.

    "Obviously, you can't be reckless. But I like having a little bit more freedom," Carriker said. "You don't want to lose your gap, but it's more about penetrating and making plays in the backfield than being so gap-conscious all the time."

    Unlike last spring, Carriker has been pounding the weights during the offseason. He credits Rock Gullickson, the team's new strength coach, with whipping him into shape.

    And Carriker thinks he'll be a different player in 2009. It's time, he emphasized, to start living up to his first-round draft status.

    "My rookie year was an adjustment, and last year I was fighting injuries. This year I'm healthy and it's not as much of an adjustment," he said. "So I definitely want to assert myself more. Hopefully this is my breakout year and I'll make more of an impact."

    An injury-free Carriker, plus the additions of free-agent strong safety James Butler and linebacker James Laurinaitis, the Rams' second-round draft choice, could prompt a defensive revival, he maintained. "Laurinaitis looks good and Butler ... was successful with the (New York) Giants; he's a heck of a player," Carriker said. "So I think we're going to be improved."


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    Re: Carriker looks to take big step with Rams

    Good to hear that they won't be moving him all over the place

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    Re: Carriker looks to take big step with Rams

    He, Long and Hill playing at 100% are the bright spots IMO. If they can turn into the dominant forces hoped for when drafted, we can be confident going into 2010. If Carriker and Hill continue as they have been, things are going to be rough.

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    Re: Carriker looks to take big step with Rams

    I hope these guys are all healthy. I'm excited to see the group together. Carriker looked promising in his rookie season. I can only hope he improves in the new scheme.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

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    Re: Carriker looks to take big step with Rams

    Good luck needed, like to see more explosion out of A.C. this season.
    Last edited by GROUND DOG 39; -06-05-2009 at 07:51 PM.

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    Re: Carriker looks to take big step with Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by GROUND DOG 39 View Post
    Good luck needed, like to see more explosion out of A.C. this season.
    Same here. Really look forward to a stronger, more productive year from AC -- or, as you said, "explosive".

    GO A.C.!!!

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    Re: Carriker looks to take big step with Rams

    A lot of people were hating pretty heavily on Carriker the entire off season, and now after one feel good story everyone is to fall back in love with the guy.That's so sweet. Kidding aside, the truth is, the man is a beast, end of story. I think he will really shine in this new system and if course being healthy doesn't hurt either.

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    Re: Carriker looks to take big step with Rams

    It'll be interesting to see how the change in system plays out. That bit about maintaining gap assignments no matter what in the past seems kind of odd. Once it was clear that the opposing team wasn't running the ball, the issue of holding a gap would be kind of a moot point, no?

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    Re: Carriker looks to take big step with Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenfleece View Post
    It'll be interesting to see how the change in system plays out. That bit about maintaining gap assignments no matter what in the past seems kind of odd. Once it was clear that the opposing team wasn't running the ball, the issue of holding a gap would be kind of a moot point, no?
    Good points. Haslett made a lot of odd decisions with player positioning and scheme, and IMO it showed. I think the change in scenery is going to do wonders for a healthy Carriker, at least I hope so because how he plays will be huge.

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    Re: Carriker looks to take big step with Rams

    I think if AC is our best defensive player (or a close second to Chris Long) like we expected 2 years go this is an least .500 team. It all starts in the trenches especially in this scheme. An optimal stat line for Carriker would be 50 tackles 12 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. Those numbers are high, but IMO Carriker has all the ability talent and coaching to play at that level

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