Friday, October 8, 2004

By Nick Wagoner
Staff Writer

Rich Coady made the most of his opportunity against San Francisco on Sunday night.

Coady has spent most of his career rotating as the backup free safety, backup strong safety, and coming in on nickel and dime packages. After making his first start at free safety against New Orleans in week three, Coady appeared to be relegated back to a reserve role.

That was the case until it became evident that strong safety Adam Archuleta, a close friend of Coady’s, started battling back spasms. Coady stepped in to his friend’s place and played one of his best games.

Coady made 10 tackles, falling one short of his career high and added a forced fumble against the *****. That effort earned him the team’s defensive player of the week honors.

The ever-humble Coady said he couldn’t take all of the credit for his strong performance.

“When you get all 11 guys playing well, it makes it easier,” Coady said. “A lot of the stuff that I did well is a direct result of everyone else being in their gap and doing what they’re supposed to do.”

With Archuleta limited because of continued back problems and the return of cornerback DeJuan Groce imminent, Coady is set to start at strong safety again this week.

Coady said he is used to shuttling between the two safety spots, but he feels more comfortable at one.

“I do feel a little more comfortable at the strong,” Coady said. “That’s what I played in college and that’s where I have gotten most of my starts in the NFL. To me it doesn’t really matter, it’s just about being on the field.”

Coady started at strong safety for Texas A & M for three seasons, earning All-Big 12 Conference honors his senior season. He spent his first three seasons with the Rams before going to Tennessee for a season. He signed with Indianapolis the following season, but the Rams traded a seventh round choice for him before last season.

The uncertainty of whether he is going to start doesn’t bother Coady much anymore, as he has embraced his role as the utility guy. He has grasped the old “one play away” cliché as his personal mantra and it has paid off.

“Every week I go in and prepare like I’m going to start,” Coady said. “Whether coach tells me I am going to start on Monday for the following Sunday or five minutes before the game, it’s not going to change how I prepare.”

INJURY REPORT: There was little change to the injury report on Thursday.

Cornerback Travis Fisher (broken forearm) and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (broken foot) are listed as out. Left guard Chris Dishman (sprained knee) and linebacker Tony Newson (ankle) are questionable. Kennedy has resume light running, but there is no immediate timetable on his return to practice.

Probable for the Rams are running back Marshall Faulk (shoulder), Groce (sprained knee), running back Arlen Harris (hamstring strain), left guard Scott Tercero (broken bone in hand) and linebacker Robert Thomas (sprained ankle).

Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa missed Thursday’s practice with an infected elbow. He will probably play Sunday and is listed as probable.

SEEING RED: The media ranks have thinned at Rams Park in recent days because of the baseball Cardinals’ hunt for a World Series birth. Rams’ coach Mike Martz hasn’t had much time to speak to his friend, manager Tony LaRussa, but the two have great respect for each other and Martz said he is not surprised by how well the Cardinals are playing with LaRussa in charge.

“I felt all along he would do this well, from the very beginning,” Martz said. “It’s just fun to sit back and watch them have the success that they are having.”

Martz visited LaRussa and the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. after the 2001 NFL season and the two have remained in close contact.