Friday, September 7, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
Coach Scott Linehan would be the first to admit that his expectations and hopes for rookie defensive tackle Adam Carriker are as high or higher than anyone’s based on what he has seen from him in the time leading up to the regular season.
But Linehan truly believes that Carriker is ready to take on the giant task he is being saddled with: helping the Rams defense find a way to stop the run.
“No question,” Linehan said. “I’ve been asked a lot of questions about Carriker from the time we drafted him to now and every time, in general, I can be pretty glowing with where we feel he is. Bottom line is: he is a rookie. He has not played one snap in a regular season NFL game. Time will tell. We will assess that as we go, but at this point Adam Carriker is way ahead of where a lot of rookies, whether they’re the first rounders or not, would be at this point.”
While Carriker has yet to prove himself in an NFL regular season, he has done everything possible in the preseason and training camp to prepare himself for the rigors of playing defensive tackle at the game’s highest level.
Carriker knows he will have some butterflies entering his first regular season game much as he did in the preseason opener against Minnesota, but he is quite certain he will get over them quickly.
“Oh, I’m sure I will,” Carriker said. “This is the first game for real; it’s the NFL. You just approach it the best you can. Obviously, this is another level, but I’ve been playing football for a long time. I’ll just try to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and on game day, just go out and play as hard as I can.”
Carriker has taken full advantage of the opportunity to learn from some of the veterans on the team in his preparation for taking on Carolina, picking the brain of veteran leader La’Roi Glover as often as possible.
“He helps me out a lot,” Carriker said. “He’s played against all these O-linemen for years. He’ll sit down with me and just be like, ‘This guy likes to do this, this guy’s tendency is this, or this guy’s weakness is this.’”
Linehan isn’t the only person around who has been impressed with Carriker in the early going. Defensive end Leonard Little has made it clear that finding a way to improve the run defense’s performance is the top priority heading into this season and he believes Carriker can be an integral part of that process.
“Adam is a first round pick but he doesn’t seem like he’s just a first round pick by the way he plays,” Little said. “We’ll be a whole lot better up front than we were last year (with him)."
INJURY REPORT: Linehan said earlier in the week that if guard Richie Incognito couldn’t get some practice in this week it would be unlikely that he could play against the Panthers.
Incognito was once again limited in Friday’s practice and it appears he will not be ready to go on Sunday. Incognito is officially listed as questionable.
With that in mind, Claude Terrell is the likely replacement for Incognito with an outside chance Milford Brown could slide in. Terrell started 10 games as a rookie before missing the 2006 season because of a wrist injury.
“That would mean a whole lot to me,” Terrell said. “I was looking forward to the point where I got to start a home game for the Rams and heard my name called as a starter. I have been thinking about that for a long time. If they give me the opportunity, I will be grateful for that.”
Linehan indicated that the final decision on who will start will be made at game time, but there’s a good chance that an extra lineman will be available on Sunday, leaving another man down at a different position.
“The reality is if he is up, we will carry eight linemen and that will affect the depth,” Linehan said. “That’s the decision we have to make.”
As for receiver Drew Bennett (thigh) and defensive end Victor Adeyanju (knee), they also will be listed as questionable. Both were limited Friday in practice, but are probably more likely to be active Sunday against the Panthers.
HOLT-O-METER: Earlier this week, Linehan said he estimated Torry Holt’s knee was at 100 percent. It was said a bit tongue in cheek, but Holt refuses to put a percentage on his knee, saying only that it feels better than it did at any point last season.
“I’m not going to discuss percentages,” Holt said. “I’m just going to play on Sundays and let everybody else do it. You all can do like a poll or something and let everybody else put down what they thought I looked like.”
While nobody has yet established a Holt-O-Meter to place a percentage on the strength of his knee, Holt believes that his knee feels better than it has in a long time. He said Friday that he has made serious progress in the past two weeks.
“I feel that I have been working really hard the last couple of weeks to get myself in position to get ready for the opener,” Holt said. “I am just looking forward to running out there with my teammates. I didn’t want to miss this for nothing in the world.”
PITTMAN IMPROVES: The Rams had high marks on rookie running back Antonio Pittman when he entered this year’s NFL Draft. There was discussion of drafting him before they opted to grab Brian Leonard in the second round.
Instead, Pittman fell to the fourth round and the New Orleans Saints before he was cut last week. The Rams wasted no time jumping on Pittman with the hopes that he could be a backup running back.
Pittman could already be the best pure runner (aside from starter Steven Jackson) among the group of backs on the roster. But he still will have a bit of a learning curve to grasp as he heads toward the season. It’s almost certain Pittman won’t be active this week against Carolina as he continues to learn the system.
“It’s going to be a while,” Linehan said. “He’s a work in progress until he learns the system. He’s working hard on scout team and on special teams and time will tell. We knew that when we picked him up that it was going to be a while. He’s in very good shape and you can tell he’s been through training camp and got a lot of good work. I think he would be ready to go here sometime soon.”