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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/26/2006

    Several times during training camp, Rams coach Scott Linehan expressed grave concerns about the lack of experience among his tight ends. Thanks to rookie Joe Klopfenstein, those fears have largely been allayed.

    Klopfenstein's seven receptions aren't enough to get him included in the NFL statistics package (11 is the minimum). But his 16.9-yard average per catch tops all tight ends listed.

    "We knew we were going to have to live with the rookie-type things ... not necessarily mistakes, but just the nuances of knowing the game and understanding the pace of the game," Linehan said. "But I think he's doing outstanding.

    "The thing that's been the most encouraging is that he really has never blinked, from the opener 'till now. Yeah, he's had ups and downs, like all of us have, but he's played through it
    and been tough."

    Klopfenstein, a 6-foot-5, 256-pounder from Colorado, was the Rams' second-round draft choice. They also made Southern California tight end Dominique Byrd a first-day pick, grabbing him in the third round.

    That afternoon, incumbent starter Brandon Manumaleuna was traded to San Diego for a fourth-round selection that the Rams used to land Indiana's Victor Adeyanju, who is starting at defensive end.

    Playing behind Pro Bowler Antonio Gates, Manumaleuna has nine receptions for 43 yards for the Chargers, the Rams' foes on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.

    Klopfenstein, the only rookie to start every game for the Rams, made his first catch in Week 2, an 11-yarder in the second quarter at San Francisco. His first touchdown came two weeks later, when quarterback Marc Bulger found him over the middle for a 16-yard score against Detroit.

    Without thinking, the ecstatic Klopfenstein tossed the keepsake ball to the nearest official. But equipment manager Todd Hewitt retrieved it and had it inscribed with all the particulars.

    "It's pretty cool," said Klopfenstein, 22. "I don't really have a trophy shelf in my house, but that would be the first thing on it."

    The TD is personal highlight No. 1 in season No. 1 for Klopfenstein, who said he's satisfied with his progress.

    "The first few weeks were sort of feeling out the NFL in general," he explained. "Six weeks in, I've gotten quite a bit of experience. So, I feel real comfortable."

    Still, as college seasons are beginning to wind down, the pros haven't hit the midseason mark. Klopfenstein expects the grind to wear on him eventually.

    "I really haven't hit that point yet where I feel fatigued mentally and physically," he said. "But it's a long season, and I think this next 10-game grind without a break is going to be something that I'm going to really notice as different from college."

    Linehan, though, has a burgeoning confidence in him.

    "We've asked him to do a lot of things that you wouldn't really even ask a second- or third-year player, as far as being in there on third-down protections a lot," Linehan said. "He's had some mistakes, but I think the pluses have highly outweighed those, especially for a young player.

    "He's way ahead of schedule as far as his development."

    Injury update

    Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who already had dislocated his left shoulder twice this season, suffered a small fracture in his left hand near the end of Wednesday's practice.

    Linehan said Tinoisamoa, who has suited up for all 57 games since the Rams drafted him in 2003, would be able to play Sunday with a splint on his hand.

    Fullback Paul Smith practiced for the first time since suffering fractures and muscle damage near his left eye Oct. 1 vs. Detroit. Smith, who was injured while covering a kickoff, reported no ill effects after the two-hour workout.

    "Everything feels pretty good," he said. "I'm a little rusty, as far as physically getting back into it, running around on the field. You get stiff again and your feet hurt again. But that'll all go away."

    Linehan said, "He had the same energy level and focus that he had before. It was like he'd never missed a snap. It didn't look like he had any hesitation at all."

    Tinoisamoa and Smith were the only Rams listed Wednesday on the week's first injury report. Both were probable.

    Ram-blings

    Center Andy McCollum had surgery Tuesday on his left knee, which suffered torn ligaments in the season opener. "Everything went real well, and the prognosis looks good that he'll be able to be back next year" for a 14th NFL season, Linehan said. ... Since bye weeks began in 1990, the Rams are 9-7 in games following their break. But they have dropped their last two, 31-16 at Seattle last year and 40-22 to New England in 2004.


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    It's been a very trying season for Pisa. Good thing he's tough as nails.

  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    Pisa's toughness is putting him at or near the top of the "next Rams jersey I'm going to buy" list.

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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    I was thinking about that then I thought that the Ram jersey curse would strike so I never ............................. I am sticking my t shirt LOL

  5. #5
    Revelstoke Guest

    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    Its great that Pisa is so willing to play through all this stuff, but sooner or later, if this team is going to make a run at a playoff spot, hes going to have to be 100% healthy and that may mean missing a few games along the way.

    Whats worse is that the bye week is supposed to be for healing, not suffering more injuries!

  6. #6
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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    If I believed in jersey curses I'd buy a T.O. jersey!

  7. #7
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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    Pisa is earning more respect for me every week. He is now my favourite LB in the game right now, this is the toughest, most determined player I have ever seen in my life, I swear this guy would play in a full body cast!

    GET EM PISA!
    Built RAM tough

  8. #8
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    I am telling ya...

    he has got to be getting up to the Youngblood type mentality.

  9. #9
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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    If I believed in jersey curses I'd buy a T.O. jersey!
    I washed my car with it last Saturday.

  10. #10
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    Pisa's toughness is putting him at or near the top of the "next Rams jersey I'm going to buy" list. -- AVRam
    Tinoisamoa's jersey, IMO, is fast becoming a hot Rams item. I've been assisting one of our new Clan members from the U.K. to purchase a Reebok Rams No. 50 home jersey and because our rugged LB has been in the positive / attractive news lately, it seems outlet store are running out of it too quickly and needing to order more each time -- especially the popular Large size!

    I had also looked directly into Reebok for that jersey (replica) but, no, they didn't have it! Finally found it and ordered one this week from the Rams ProShop.

    In any event, I hope PT does not break any more bones or suffer any more injuries! :\ We need him as strong and solid as he can be.

  11. #11
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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    pisa has to be on howie long's all tough guy team at the end of the season for sure

  12. #12
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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    Is there any team that looks as tough as the Rams? Players gutting it out through broken hands, dislocated elbows, cracked facial bones and surgically implanted pins. This team is building some serious character.

  13. #13
    Revelstoke Guest

    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Is there any team that looks as tough as the Rams? Players gutting it out through broken hands, dislocated elbows, cracked facial bones and surgically implanted pins. This team is building some serious character.
    dont foreget about the implanted titanium plates!!

  14. #14
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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    The Tower of Pisa never falls no matter how bad things might look. What a guy!

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    Re: Confidence in Klopfenstein rises--Pisa breaks hand

    ""We've asked him to do a lot of things that you wouldn't really even ask a second- or third-year player, as far as being in there on third-down protections a lot," Linehan said. "He's had some mistakes, but I think the pluses have highly outweighed those, especially for a young player.

    "He's way ahead of schedule as far as his development."

    We have so much to look forward to at the TE spot. This is only the beginning. Once he's mastered the blocking schemes he'll be used even more as an offensive weapon. I don't know if he'll ever be a Tony Gonzales or Antonio Gtaes caliber player, but he's gonna be a stud.

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