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  1. #1
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    Cason, Harris Competing for Job

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    If only the best of Arlen Harris and the best of Aveion Cason could be combined into one player, you might be left with the best third running back in the NFL.

    Take, for example, Harris’ hard-nosed running style and combine it with Cason’s breakneck speed and the potential for the perfect backup/kick returner would certainly exist.

    But, since Dr. Frankenstein isn’t available, the Rams could be forced to choose between Harris and Cason for the third running back spot behind starter Steven Jackson and future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.

    And that’s one choice that could prove quite difficult when cuts begin next week. Although Harris and Cason remain good friends, both understand the sense of urgency needed to claim what could come down to an either/or situation as opposed to keeping both as St. Louis did last year.

    “They (the coaches) might expect something, but we won’t know until that last cut day or that last day so you have got to practice and play every day like you aren’t going to be here,” Harris said. “I try to stay away from rumors and just worry about myself.”

    Cason is taking that exact approach.

    “I am going to have to go out and compete every day in practice and every day in the games,” Cason said. “I know how it is and I know how tough it is going to be so I have to go out and take advantage of each and every opportunity that I have. All I can do is go out and do my job and do my part.”

    With guys like Faulk and Jackson ahead of them, it has been difficult for Harris and Cason to get too many opportunities, but there have been flashes from both players.

    It isn’t like either player is a newcomer to the game either. Harris is entering his third season with the Rams after making it as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2003.

    At the time, Harris’ making the team came as a surprise and some thought it might not last too long, but Harris has continually proved his doubters wrong.

    “I’m in my third year so I kind of know what to expect and kind of understand my role on this team,” Harris said. “I definitely feel comfortable in my status. This year I am definitely more comfortable in my abilities. I know the offense. You have got to have that feeling though because nobody is above the league. You could be traded, you could be cut, you just never know so you can never relax at this level.”

    Harris had done everything asked of him since arriving in St. Louis making him a favorite of the coaching staff. From his spot start as a rookie against Pittsburgh in 2003 when he scored three touchdowns to his willingness to add about 20 pounds to his smallish frame and move to fullback, Harris has earned his hard-working reputation on the team.

    In fact, the additional weight and move to fullback held Harris back last season, making it hard for him to run as fast as he had in the past. But Harris still did what he could as the team’s backup utility running back and kick returner.

    “Coach wanted me to get heavy and I did just that, but I think it kind of hurt me with that much weight and playing a different position,” Harris said. “I just didn’t feel comfortable and had a lot of nagging injuries. This year, I feel a lot healthier and at a playing weight where I feel I can be a lot more productive.”

    Harris is back down to around 210 pounds after spending 2004 at a shade under 230. He appears quicker in practice and showed a nice burst on a 30-yard burst against San Diego last week. For the preseason, Harris has 67 yards on 19 carries, but has yet to get an opportunity on kickoff returns.

    Of course, the reason for Harris’ lack of opportunity as a kick returner is Cason. Cason signed with the Rams on Dec. 7 of last season in an effort to add speed and bolster the return units.

    He went on to become the team’s best return man, contributing the three longest returns of the season while being active in just three games.

    “I feel like I have to go out and make some plays even if it’s on special teams or on offense,” Cason said. “I feel like I have to go out and make something happen.”

    Cason has yet to get much of an opportunity to make something happen on offense, but says he does feel like he is starting to understand the offense. On his six chances against the Bears in the preseason opener, Cason gained just 7 yards, but added a reception for 9 yards. He has two returns for 34 yards against the Chargers last week.

    The possibility remains that both Harris and Cason could make the Rams’ final 53-man roster, but as it stands both are competing for one job and both are approaching it as such.

    “I’m competing, he’s competing,” Cason said. “So may the best guy win.”


  2. #2
    AugustaRamFan Guest

    Re: Cason, Harris Competing for Job

    I like Cason's straight ahead speed. It just seems that he can only direct that speed along one vector.

    Shifty is not word that comes to mind when you think of Cason.

    Straight ahead or Bust!

  3. #3
    rampete Guest

    Re: Cason, Harris Competing for Job

    cason reminds me of trung canidate...

  4. #4
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Cason, Harris Competing for Job

    Quote Originally Posted by AugustaRamFan
    I like Cason's straight ahead speed. It just seems that he can only direct that speed along one vector.

    Shifty is not word that comes to mind when you think of Cason.

    Straight ahead or Bust!
    And that ain't a good thing in the NFL. Agility is just as if not more important than track speed.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  5. #5
    sbramfan Guest

    Re: Cason, Harris Competing for Job

    Cason's gone because Fair is a much better Kick Returner. We finally found someone who can get to the 30 yrd line.

    Harris has experience backing up Faulk before.

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