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Thread: Fisher Rams rebuilding with youth movement

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    Fisher Rams rebuilding with youth movement

    by R.B. FALLSTROM,AP Sports Writer

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — There are 17 rookies on the St. Louis Rams' opening day roster, seven more players age 24 or younger and 31 in all on the 53-man roster who were not with the franchise last season.

    It's the youngest team in the NFL, with an average age under 26. A lot of kids for new coach Jeff Fisher to corral.

    Fisher and new general manager Les Snead are prepared to live with the mistakes. Fisher was at his wise-cracking best when the topic came up after practice Wednesday.

    "Well, look, I'm going to cut the cartoons off at the hotel," Fisher joked. "Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Have Froot Loops for the pregame meal. How's that?"

    Beyond the one-liners, it's clear the new regime has embraced an overhaul so extensive that the so-called crusty veteran has become an endangered species. There are just five players over 30, compared with 13 for the season opener last year.

    The 52-year-old Fisher was out of the NFL last year before tackling the task of transforming a franchise that was just 15-65 the previous five years — the worst five-year stretch for any franchise since the AFL-NFL merger. He has a five-year contract and can afford to build from the ground up.

    "Well, it's exciting. These guys are anxious and eager," Fisher said. "I'd much rather coach a young team than an old team."

    All but one of the team's 10 draft picks made the team. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins and guard Rokevious Watkins are likely starters, kicker Greg Zuerlein won his job on draft day and defensive tackle Michael Brockers was set to start before sustaining what's believed to be a high right ankle sprain in the preseason finale.

    Wide receivers Brian Quick and Chris Givens will be in the mix for quarterback Sam Bradford, the first pick of the 2010 draft and already an elder statesman. Bradford said he didn't realize how many rookies were on the roster until Fisher spoke at a luncheon attended by the entire team earlier in the week.

    "I was like 'Oh my god, that seems extremely high," Bradford said. "But looking around, I think we've got a lot of young guys, a lot of rookies in this locker room who are going to help us.

    "We're better because they're here."

    Defensive end Chris Long, entering his fifth season and just 26, likes the injection of enthusiasm and optimism. He remembers feeling that way after the Rams drafted him second overall in 2008, not knowing he'd be a part of only 12 wins his first four seasons.

    "One thing about being young is you're not afraid of anything. You're not afraid of losing," Long said. "They haven't been through the downs, so that's kind of nice.

    "We're going into this thing fearlessly in Week 1."

    Entering his 17th season as an NFL head coach, Fisher said there's no doubt that he's never had a team so young.

    "No ... Not even close."

    Fisher insists he didn't have to alter his coaching style to fit the personnel.

    "Nothing changes. You take the same approach preparation-wise, you just have to maybe spend a little extra time with the younger guys to let them know what the regular season is all about," Fisher said. "With 17 rookies on this roster, there's a good chance that quite a few of them are going to be in this ballgame."

    Certainly, one big positive is there's no element of greed. Just kids waiting for their shot.

    "It's been a beautiful thing," said cornerback Cortland Finnegan, the team's top free agent pickup who played for Fisher in Tennessee. "They're great kids, coachable, coming along, made some plays from all aspects."

    When asked about playing time against the Lions, Quick speaks for all.

    "Well, you know, whenever coach calls my number I've got to be ready," Quick said. "We'll see how that works. Who knows?"

    He doesn't want to be judged on a sliding scale, either.

    "The window is down now, it's time for us to grow up as rookies and make sure we do the right thing and study," Quick said. "We had our time in camp and springtime to make mistakes."

    Last year's opening-day roster included 36-year-old cornerback Al Harris and three 34-year-olds — backup quarterback A.J. Feeley, defensive end James Hall and defensive tackle Fred Robbins. Feeley, Hall and Robbins all were on the roster before the season finale of a dreary 2-14 campaign.

    The elder statesman of the group that's a touchdown underdog at Detroit is 32-year-old outside linebacker Mario Haggan, entering his 10th season. Perhaps it's rubbed off from the kids he's surrounded by, but Haggan can't help but be optimistic.

    "The day I signed on the dotted line, they sat me down and told me what I was going to be asked to do and what I bring to the team," Haggan said. "They like what I bring. So, I was well-prepared for the task and right now I'm enjoying myself. I see a lot of great things coming."


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    Re: Fisher Rams rebuilding with youth movement

    We are young but some of the better teams are right there with us. It's not a bad thing IMO.

    Avg age
    1 Rams 25.32
    2 Eagles 25.55
    5 Packers 25.65
    9 Patriots 25.81

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    Re: Fisher Rams rebuilding with youth movement

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    We are young but some of the better teams are right there with us. It's not a bad thing IMO.

    Avg age
    1 Rams 25.32
    2 Eagles 25.55
    5 Packers 25.65
    9 Patriots 25.81
    I'm certainly not opposed to building thru a youth movement, but this should not make us afraid to pick up a seasoned veteran or two where needed. It's only when you OVER RELY on veterans that you get yourself in trouble.

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    Re: Fisher Rams rebuilding with youth movement

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    I'm certainly not opposed to building thru a youth movement, but this should not make us afraid to pick up a seasoned veteran or two where needed. It's only when you OVER RELY on veterans that you get yourself in trouble.
    This is true. The only -- or real -- exception to this is when the odd coach sticks with veterans and simply gives away the draft privileges ... for MORE veterans!

    Enter George Allen -- Rams Head Coach 1966-70.

    George Allen was the odd one alright in this respect, he was extremely careful in selecting and keeping, rookies. During his tenure he kept only two, maybe four draft picks per season but these were hand picked rookies, players with fine potential: Tom Mack; Willie Ellison; Diron Talbert; Larry Smith; Bob Klein; Jack Reynolds; Rich Saul. Yet he turned the L.A. Rams into winners the first year he led the team, again, based on the strength of veterans, not rookies. When he moved to the Redskins he established the same philosophy there so they were known as "The Over the Hill Gang".

    The point: Coach Allen, with his "All Veteran Player Power" never had a losing season in the NFL.

    Hopefully the Rams will build on a balanced roster. Right now 33% consist of rookies.


    Below, Coach Allen with WR Jack Snow. Clic on image.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Fisher Rams rebuilding with youth movement-g.-allen-rams-hc-jsnow.jpg  
    Last edited by RealRam; -09-06-2012 at 08:21 PM. Reason: HC Allen, WR Snow

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    Re: Fisher Rams rebuilding with youth movement

    With it being Fisher's first year in charge. I don't think you can criticise him for going with the youth movement. I actually believe it's refreshing to see him avoid going the veteran route. If Fisher has the confidence in his ability, to find and develop these young kids. I don't think this quality should be overlooked. When was the last time the Rams had a coach who wasn't a sheep. It's been a long, long time.
    Obviously Fisher knows there will be growing pains at first. However, all these kids didn't come down in the last shower. A lot of time and effort has gone into identifying these prospects. If someone can play then age is just a number in my book. Fisher knows this and is looking at the big picture.!

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    Re: Fisher Rams rebuilding with youth movement

    Totally agree with you GD39! Youth is yonder but it may be promising, especially if most of our Rams rookies grow up together.

    Again, Coach Allen with his veterans approach (avoiding most of the rookies each draft) was the exception. And he was uniquely successful. Times were different in the NFL 45 years ago of course but he was an innovator in this aspect.

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    Re: Fisher Rams rebuilding with youth movement

    Coach Allen took the Skins a long way without any rookies one year right? He did not play rookies.

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    Re: Fisher Rams rebuilding with youth movement

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Coach Allen took the Skins a long way without any rookies one year right? He did not play rookies.

    That's correct Rambos. In just his 2nd season in Washington, he led the Redskins all the way to SB VII. Once again, keep in mind George Allen never had a losing season in 12 years as an NFL head coach and the vast majority of his players were seasoned grunts. ^_^

    As far as recruiting rookies, he would justify going instead for veterans stating, "The Future is Now".

    As a coach, Allen was known for his tendency to prefer veteran players to rookies and younger players. During Allen's early years with the Redskins, the team was known as the "Over the Hill Gang," due to the predominance of players over the age of 30, such as quarterback Billy Kilmer. Upon becoming Redskins coach, Allen traded for or acquired many players - all veterans of course - he had formerly coached with the Rams, including Jack Pardee, Richie Petitbon, Myron Pottios, John Wilbur, George Burman, and Diron Talbert, leading to the Redskins sometimes being referred to in those days as the "Ramskins." ...Allen made 131 trades as an NFL coach. -- The Washinton Post, Feb. 2, 1998.

    That's not to say rookies are not valuable. Of course they are!

    The Rams have had their share of successes with rookies and some were Rams their entire career of 12, 15 or even 20 years (whether we traded some big names away is a different story, as with most teams).

    You'll recognize some NFL greats that started their professional careers after being drafted by the Rams:

    Norm Van Brocklin, QB (49);Charlie Toogood, T (51); Duane Putnam, OL (52); Jon Arnett, HB (57); Jack Pardee, LB (57); Lamar Lundy, DE (57); Lou Michaels, T (58); Dick Bass, RB (59); Eddie Meador, S (59); Marlin McKeever, LB (61); Charlie Cowan, OL (61); Joe Scibelli, G (61); Roman Gabriel, QB (62); Merlin Olsen, DT (62); Joe Carollo, OL (62); Don Chuy (63); Clancy Williams (65); Tom Mack, G (66); Willie Ellison, RB (67); Harold Jackson, WR (68); Larry Smith, RB (69); Bob Klein, TE (69); Jack Reynolds, LB (70); Rich Saul, C, G (70); Isiah Robertson, LB (71); Jack Youngblood, DE (71); Dave Elmendorf, DB (71); Jim Bertelsen, RB (72); Lawrence McCutcheon, RB (72); Larry Brooks, (DE); Cullen Bryant, RB (73); John Cappelletti, RB (74); Mike Fanning, DT (75); Dennis Harrah, T (75); Doug France, T (75); Rod Perry, DB (75); Jackie Slater, T (76); Carl Ekern, LB (76); Nolan Cromwell, DB (77); Vince Ferragamo, QB (77); Reggie Doss, DE (78); Kent Hill, T (79); Johnny Johnson, CB/S (80); Irv Pankey, OL (80); Mike Guman, RB (80); Mel Owens, LB (81); Jim Collins, LB (81); Greg Meisner, DL (81); Eric Dickerson, RB (83); Henry Ellard, WR (83); Mike Willcher, LB (83); Vince Newsome, S (83); Jerry Gray, CB (85); Dale Hatcher, P (85); Kevin Greene, LB (85); Tom Newberry, G (86); Anthony Newman, DB (88); Flipper Anderson, WR (88); Bern Brostek, C (90); Todd Lyght, CB (91); Roman Phifer, LB (91); Jerome Bettis, RB (93); Ernie Conwell, TE (96); Orlando Pace, T (97); Dexter McCleon, DB (97); Grant Wistrom, DE (98); Leonard Little, LB/DE (98); Torry Holt, WR (99) [NOTE: That SB XXXIV year the Rams essentially played four active rookies. In other words, the Rams did not exactly, "rally around their rookies and play good football", save for Torry Holt]; Ryan Pickett, DE (01); Chris Massey, C/LS (02); Kevin Curtis, WR, (03); Stephen Jackson, RB (04); Madison Hedgecock, RB (05); Chris Long, DE (08); Jason Smith, T (09); Sam Bradford, QB (10); Robert Quinn, DE (11); Michael Brockers, DT (12 -- along with more than a dozen other rookies for this year).


    2012 Rams Rookies - U N I T E !

    Coach Fisher knows rookies!

    Last edited by RealRam; -09-07-2012 at 05:35 PM. Reason: Ram
    GROUND DOG 39 likes this.

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