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Groce warms up to heat that comes from starting
With Butler likely out, Groce moves up
BY STEVE KORTE
ST. LOUIS - Cornerback DeJuan Groce said he has no apprehension about being possibly thrust into a starting role with the St. Louis Rams.
"Getting thrown into the fire last year gives me the confidence to do it this year," Groce said.
Groce moved up to starting cornerback last year when Travis Fisher went down with a broken arm in the preseason. He ended up starting in the team's season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
Groce finds himself in potentially the same situation this year due to a knee injury to starting cornerback Jerametrius Butler.
"You always look for that," Groce said of the opportunity to be a starter. "I've been looking to that since I got drafted. That was my main goal coming in. I'm happy with everything is going right now. If J.B. does come back, I know I am the nickel back and I have to take care of business at the nickel spot."
Butler suffered a torn ligament in his right knee on July 28. He's in the process of deciding whether to have season-ending surgery or attempt to play with the injury.
Martz said Butler visited a specialist in New York, and he was planning to visit Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.
"This was really my suggestion," Rams coach Mike Martz said Butler getting several medical opinions on his knee. "You always want him to feel comfortable, to have a consensus on what he needs to do."
Butler showed up midway through the Rams' Tuesday afternoon practice, and then declined comment as he headed to the locker room after practice.
Groce said Butler was holding out hope that he could play this season
"He wants to come back, that's his main goal," Groce said. "If he can come back, he is going to come back. If he can't, he'll do anything in his power to help us out in the secondary. He has a lot of knowledge, and I've learned a lot from him."
Martz said he's confident that Groce can handle the pressure of being a starter.
"He's having the best camp of all the corners, by far," Martz said. "He just has been a standout all through camp. We look at him as a starter when we talk about personnel."
Martz said Groce, 25, a fourth-round pick out of the University of Nebraska in the 2003 NFL Draft, has shown more maturity this season.
"The thing that pleases me the most is his focus," Martz said. "At times, young players have a little of a lapse. He is focused throughout. Every play is the same to him. He's making the most of his opportunity, and good players do that."
Groce has played in 27 games, including five starts, over the past two seasons.
"I'm a lot smarter," Groce said. "Coming from college to here is a different game. You have to learn how to read your keys. You have to learn by just playing football."
Groce said he learned a lot last season after playing cornerback, nickel back and even some safety late in the season.
"I had to step it up last year and get ready to play last year because Fish went down in training camp," Groce said. "I had to get ready for the first game of the season. Then Aeneas (Williams) got hurt and I had to play a little nickel, and then I had to move to safety. I was just all over the place last year."
The Rams had an abundance of cornerbacks in training camp this season, but that surplus has dwindled due to injuries.
Rookie Duval Thompson has a broken hand and Corey Ivy has a sprained wrist. Ivy has been able to practice with a cast.
That leaves rookie Ron Bartell, Terry Fair and Kevin Garrett as the only healthy cornerbacks behind Groce and Fisher.
"This the first time since I have been here that there has been this many corners here," Groce said. "We have about eight corners that came into camp this year, so there has been competition since Day 1."
Groce said he feels more comfortable in defensive coordinator Larry Marmie's system this season, and he think his teammates feel the same way.
"Everybody knows where they are going," Groce said. "Just knowing where we have to go, and trusting in the defense and trusting that other person is going to be in their spot instead of when something breaks down, you have to overpursue and do somebody else's job. It's falling into place right now."
Re: Groce warms up to heat that comes from starting
Okay then, starters:
CBs -- TRAVIS FISHER and DeJUAN GROCE.
Safeties -- JEROME CARTER and ADAM ARCHULETA
Depth -- COREY IVY (I like the skill and tenacity of this little 'Ram Tough'); KEVIN GARRETT and RON BARTELL.
Duvol Thompson ???
-08-17-2005 #3RamsFan16 Guest
Re: Groce warms up to heat that comes from startingOriginally Posted by RealRam