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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Devaney Praises Rams' Rookies

    Devaney praises Rams' rookies

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 12:15 am

    For most of the season, Mardy Gilyard was a nonfactor for the Rams. The fourth-round draft pick from the University of Cincinnati finished with just six catches for 63 yards and had none after the Rams' Game 6 triumph over San Diego. Gilyard averaged 22.3 yards on 16 kickoff returns, but again, had none after the San Diego game.

    Slowed by wrist and hamstring injuries, Gilyard was inactive for five games. He was a healthy scratch in four of the last five games of the 2010 season.

    "I know people are down on him," Rams general manager Billy Devaney said in a recent interview. "But Mardy Gilyard's going to wind up being a good player. It was just one of those things where everything that could go wrong for the guy ... did.

    "Got in here late. He needed to be here. Got behind the 8-ball. Was way behind and hurts his wrist. That sets him back even more. And those (other) guys started playing. Laurent (Robinson) got healthy; (Brandon) Gibson got healthy. So it was hard for Mardy."

    Gilyard reported late because Cincinnati's senior class didn't graduate until early June. And just when it looked as if Gilyard might become a contributor on offense, he suffered a hamstring injury against San Diego that kept him out of the Tampa Bay game the following Sunday.

    After so many starts and stops, Gilyard finally reached a point where it was impossible to catch up. "It's really hard," Devaney said. "When you're getting ready for games, it's hard to spend that much time getting a guy caught up."

    Gilyard aside, Devaney liked what he saw from the Rams' 2010 draft class. He wasn't surprised by quarterback Sam Bradford's success as the No. 1 overall pick.

    "It seems like anything he tries or puts his mind to, he's successful at," Devaney said.

    But the play of second-round pick Rodger Saffold was a pleasant surprise.

    "Yeah. I'll be honest," Devaney said. "For him to come in from Day 1 at left tackle and play at that level, consistently for the most part, I think that's a real credit to him. That did surprise us a little bit."

    Only one of the team's 11 draft picks defensive end Hall Davis failed to make either the 53-man roster or the practice squad. Three draft picks tight end Fendi Onobun, cornerback Marquis Johnson and linebacker Josh Hull ended up on injured reserve at various points in the year.

    After playing just one year of college football, converted basketball player Onobun made rapid progress before being placed on IR Nov. 14.

    "The fact that Fendi played in an NFL game was remarkable," Devaney said. "(Tight ends coach) Frank Leonard did a tremendous job. He's a project, we know that. But basically, he showed too much in preseason to even think about putting him on the practice squad, so we were just prepared to keep him as the 53rd guy the whole year. And son of a gun, the guy wound up playing a little bit on special teams and got in some games early on, which was remarkable."

    Devaney said Onobun's back injury did not require surgery. "He'll be fine," Devaney said. "It won't be an issue."

    Among the rest of the draft picks, cornerback Jerome Murphy, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and defensive ends George Selvie and Eugene Sims all got some seasoning.

    "Selvie showed a lot of potential," Devaney said. "Sims, we knew was raw. But he played, and he's got a ton of athletic ability. Murphy got some playing time. There's no doubt he can play."

    As for Hoomanawanui, he might have been considered one of the steals of the draft as a fifth-rounder were it not for ankle injuries that cost him eight games. "They were just bad-luck injuries," Devaney said.

    The Rams' rookie class also included three nondrafted players in wide receiver Danario Alexander, defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo and safety Darian Stewart. Cudjo and Stewart both played about one-fifth of the team's defensive snaps, with Stewart's role increasing late in the season to the point where he was playing more than veteran James Butler.

    Alexander had 20 catches for 306 yards in eight games despite experiencing left knee problems, including a fifth surgery on the knee. Devaney thinks an offseason in the program will be key to Alexander's continuing development.

    "Listen, he needs work," Devaney said. "There's no question. Route refinement. We all know he's got a ton of ability. So this offseason will be great for him. The amount of time that (wide receivers coach) Nolan Cromwell will be able to spend with him, oh my God, he'll be a hundred times better going through the OTAs and the minicamps and training camp."

    Although there's still work to be done, Devaney feels the past three drafts have helped establish a foundation and a core of young players to build on.

    "Because now you have the Chris Longs and the James Laurinaitises those guys that have played a little bit now," Devaney said. "They're young. But they're not inexperienced players now.

    "Where we just got crushed, and I'm not going to rehash, but just the (lack) of young players we had from (earlier) drafts gone by was just crushing. It just wasn't there. We had to get to that nucleus. We had to make up a lot of lost time, I guess, is the easiest way to say it."


    Owner Stan Kroenke, senior adviser John Shaw and executive vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff met Tuesday in Los Angeles to go over team business matters. Kroenke has yet to meet with Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo. ... In an upset, Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was named Sporting News rookie of the year over Bradford in voting conducted by more than 600 NFL players. ... The Rams signed wide receiver/kick returner Andrew Hawkins of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

  2. #2
    sosa39rams's Avatar
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    Re: Devaney Praises Rams' Rookies

    Boy, do I love me some Billy Devaney. This guy is the man! He lays it all out right there for you to see. We really have something special going here, from the top (Front Office) all the way down.

  3. #3
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    Re: Devaney Praises Rams' Rookies

    Hey Mardy, since you spend so much time on the bench anyways, just go and become our new equipment manager.

    Jokes aside, this was a pretty solid draft, with the first two picks being outstanding and we couldn't have asked more from them.

    Jimmy Clausen who?

  4. #4
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    Re: Devaney Praises Rams' Rookies

    Well, I really hope Gilyard can step up and hopefully walk his way out of being the butt of all the bashing going on around here.

  5. #5
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    Re: Devaney Praises Rams' Rookies

    Well i guess this explains why Gilyard is a no show.

  6. #6
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    Re: Devaney Praises Rams' Rookies

    It really is too bad Gilyard couldn't have done a little more for us. He's an athletic guy. I don't want him to get in the way of potentially landing a better WR, but I would like to keep him around one more year and see if he pans out.

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