Hagans Ready for Large Role
Thursday, October 11, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
For the first time in his NFL career, Marques Hagans was active and on the field last week against Arizona.
Hagans caught a pass for 11 yards and returned a kick for 20 in limited work. Quarterback Gus Frerotte said he had to calm Hagans a little, but the young receiver seemed pretty comfortable.
“I don’t think he was wide-eyed, but when you get a lot of reps and stuff and then, all of a sudden, you get thrust in there and you get plays that you haven’t run, sometimes you second guess yourself,” Frerotte said. “You just have to go out and play hard and get the signal. Let me tell you what’s going on and just play like you did in the preseason.”
Considering the plethora of injuries at the receiver positions (Isaac Bruce, Dane Looker and Dante Hall are all likely to miss this week’s game against Baltimore), Hagans is ready to have an even further expanded role on Sunday.
Hagans has become the Slash of the Rams offense, practicing at all of the receiver positions, quarterback as well as returning kicks and punts. That’s a lot to ask for a player who was a quarterback coming out of Virginia when the Rams drafted him in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
But Hagans says he is more than up to the task.
“You have to be,” Hagans said. “When you are out here you have to be ready for everything. I am just making sure I know my assignments during the week, getting my film study in and just go out and play and have fun on Sunday.”
Hagans spent the 2006 season on the practice squad learning the finer points of the receiver positions from the likes of position coach Henry Ellard and receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.
And Hagans came back with a vengeance in 2007, having a tremendous preseason and showing a penchant for making the difficult catch. He led the Rams in the four preseason contests with three touchdowns, 13 catches and 166 yards receiving.
“We’ve been getting him ready,” coach Scott Linehan said. “He had a great preseason. He’s been available. He’s more ready this week than last week. He’ll need to know all three (wide receiver) positions which is what’s required from mainly your third or fourth receiver.”
Up until last week, Hagans had been inactive other than being designated the team’s third quarterback for emergency situations. Hagans continues to work on signal calling duties in case an emergency comes up, but he will be needed more as a receiver this week.
In practice Wednesday and Thursday, Hagans took most of his repetitions at wide receiver and as a returner though he will get opportunities to work as quarterback Friday.
Linehan said having Hagans active gives the Rams a chance to do some things they normally wouldn’t be able to do.
“He’s played a lot more quarterback in his lifetime than at receiver,” Linehan said. “His ability to do that would be as an emergency player. We might have a few things we could use for him we wouldn’t normally have if he wasn’t available.”
Hagans’ versatility and ability to throw the ball presents some intriguing options for trick plays and different looks the Rams haven’t been able to give to keep a defense off balance. He hasn’t proved to be as versatile or dangerous as former Pittsburgh quarterback/receiver/running back Kordell Stewart, but Hagans is looking forward to getting a shot to show what he can do.
“Stay tuned,” Hagans said. “We’ll see what happens.”
TAKE A BHAWOH: The addition of safety Bhawoh Jue to the roster on Tuesday was two years in the making.
The Rams made overtures to Jue and his agent in the 2005 offseason when Jue was a free agent. The idea then was to make him a starter, but the team settled for Michael Hawthorne when Jue signed with San Diego.
Now, with injuries to safeties Corey Chavous and Todd Johnson, the Rams added Jue to provide depth for the ailing secondary. Linehan was familiar with Jue from his time as the offensive coordinator in Minnesota when Jue was playing for Green Bay.
“We were in a situation last week where Ron Bartell was playing safety, and we have a lot of confidence in Ron, but he had been a starting cornerback for us up to that point and had to literally be given a crash course on the safety position each series because we were down to one safety,” Linehan said. “So Bhawoh gives us a guy that’s played back there and understands angles that you have to take as a safety. He is very tough player that I think handles the position like a safety should and carries his pads and gets people down. He is more than an insurance policy we think that he is a pretty good safety too and you never know, hopefully he can stick here.”
Linehan said Jue will be active this week, but his understanding of the defense is still spotty at best. More than likely, he will work on special teams and only play safety in a pinch.
INJURY REPORT: Thursday’s injury report looks almost the same as Wednesday’s with no real changes being made.
Perhaps the only noticeable improvement was made by Bruce who did not participate in Wednesday’s workout. Bruce again did not participate in the team portion of practice, but showed signs of progress by doing more in the individual portion.
Bruce almost certainly won’t play this week, but Linehan said he’s closer to a return.
“It’s highly unlikely that he will be able to play this game,” Linehan said. “We are hopefully that he will be ready for the next game though.”
Holt participated in all of Thursday’s practice and will be fine for the game as expected. Others who participated in all of practice include Frerotte (ankle), defensive end James Hall (pectoral) and cornerback Tye Hill (back).
Quarterback Marc Bulger (ribs, knee) and safety Corey Chavous (pectoral) were limited this week.
Linehan also officially ruled out Hall this week because of his sprained left ankle. Steven Jackson (groin), Looker (thigh), Raonall Smith (knee) join Hall as out this week.
RAM BITS: Eureka coach Farrell Shelton is this week’s Rams’ Coach of the Week after his team beat Pattonville to move to 6-0 on the season…The Ravens’ injury report has some big names on it, but it’s unclear who will be ready to go. Defensive tackle Trevor Pryce is out with a wrist injury. Center Mike Flynn, receiver Derrick Mason, tackle Adam Terry and tight end Daniel Wilcox aren’t likely to play. Tight end Todd Heap will be back in the lineup…Linehan indicated that tight end Joe Klopfenstein will be back in the mix of the offensive game plan this week.
Re: Hagans Ready for Large Role
I like the fact that Ferrote had to calm Hagans down, this team could use a reciever who hasn't had his excitement and thrill tempered by injuries. We need a spark and Hagans can catch the ball, he has good hands, but we need someone on the offence to light that fire and I hope the other starters appreciate the energy Hagans is putting on the field. GoRams!