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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Hargrove Lands in Starting Role

    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Watching Anthony Hargrove go through a practice or play in a game can lead to any number of questions, but none might be more prominent than the simple wonderment of where he gets that endless energy supply.

    Some might say it’s his love of football and others might indicate that it comes down to the pursuit of a big contract. In reality, though, Hargrove’s engine is revved by jet fuel.

    You know, the kind of fuel used on airplanes, the kind of airplanes that could be found at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta. The exact airport that only two years ago employed Hargrove as a plane pusher.

    So, if you ever catch Hargrove taking a play or two off in a practice, it won’t last long, at least no so long as a 757 or any other plane continues to cruise of the Rams Park practice field.

    “Every time I hear those planes flying overhead it reminds me of where I was at,” Hargrove said. “So, any time I am on the field and I am tired and I hear a plane I get to work. I don’t want to go back to where I was at. I was getting a little tired in a nine-on-seven today and I saw a plane take off and I looked at Leonard and went to coach and asked to get back in and get back to work.”

    That was the first day of training camp when Hargrove saw that 757 flying in to Lambert Airport, but the relentless effort and attitude has never been a problem for the young defensive end.

    Hargrove’s energy was so abundant last season that no matter what the drill, if the ball hit the ground, he was the first one to get it. He would even chase down incompletions that were 30 yards down field and 15 yards out of bounds. His logic was a little fuzzy, but he reasoned that any time the ball hits the ground; the defense needs to come away with it.

    Hargrove impressed the coaching staff and his teammates with his boundless enthusiasm, but he was still a little rough around the edges. The raw power and speed was there, but the technique still needed work.

    There was early speculation that Hargrove would win the starting job opposite Leonard Little, but the Rams played it safe with Bryce Fisher. Hargrove didn’t let up, though, and claimed the starting spot by the Dec. 27 game against Philadelphia. Heading into this season, Hargrove has yet to relinquish that position.

    “I set goals for myself,” Hargrove said. “I told myself that by my second year I wanted to be a starter on this team. Last year I ended the season as a starter and this year, hopefully I can hang on to it. It makes me work harder to try to be No. 1.”

    The thought of Hargrove working harder isn’t exactly music to the ears of the teammates who must face him in one-on-one pass rush drills ever day. Alex Barron found out the hard about Hargrove’s excitable nature the hard way on his first day of practice with the team.

    After Hargrove bull rushed toward Barron and contact was made, neither combatant was willing to give first. As the two kept shoving and clutching, Hargrove got more fired up, eventually shoving Barron and starting a melee between the offensive and defensive lines. Not willing to back down from anyone, Hargrove took on veteran center Andy McCollum before his teammates pulled him away.

    Maybe Hargrove’s energy can be a little too over the top on occasion, but it has certainly served him well in his matchups with more experienced, six-time Pro Bowler Orlando Pace.

    The Pace-Hargrove matchup has been one of the most exciting in practice every day. It would be easy to assume that Pace handles Hargrove without much of a problem, but even pace admits that Hargrove has given all he can handle.

    “Tony is a young guy and I am like an old man now,” Pace said. “I am challenging Hargrove, he is challenging me. In the end, that’s going to make us both better. I think he’s going to be a great pro in this league for a long time. He has grown just from last year to this year, the improvement has been great. I expect some big things from him this year.”

    After Hargrove took over the starting job, his improvement began to crystallize. He finished the season with 36 tackles, a sack, a pass defended and a forced fumble, but it was a single play in the Rams’ NFC Wild Card Game at Seattle that gave every one a glimpse at what the future might hold.

    The play started out like any normal running play. Hargrove lined up opposite the left tackle and Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck handed off to All-Pro running back Shaun Alexander who darted left in search of a hole. But there was Hargrove, driving the tackle into the back field. Alexander searched for a way out as other Rams defenders approached, but suddenly Hargrove exploded off his blocker and hauled Alexander down for a 3-yard loss.

    That wouldn’t be too big of a deal normally, even for a rookie, but in this case it was. The blocker on the play? Walter Jones, one of the only tackles in the league that is consistently mentioned in the same breath as Pace.

    There was no doubt at that point that Hargrove had what it took to handle the starting job. Fisher left for Seattle as a free agent during the offseason and Hargrove slid into the top spot.

    It would seem that going against Pace in practice every day would be extremely beneficial to Hargrove, but coach Mike Martz said that tango works both ways.

    “The thing that’s going to help Orlando more than anything is Tony Hargrove,” Martz said. “That’s a titanic matchup. I think as time will go on that Tony will really kind of be identified as a marquee player in this league eventually. He’s a ways away at this point, but he’s worth getting excited about.”

    Only two years removed from his time working at the airport, Hargrove is always excited about getting the chance to play football and it doesn’t appear that that excitement will be going away anytime soon.

    “It feels good but at the same time, there is no stopping any day,” Hargrove said. “Even if I am hurting or I am tired I have to give my all because there are guys behind me who want my job. I have got to prove that I am a starter.”


  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Hargrove Lands in Starting Role

    Hardgrove is looking mighty fine; effort / hustle, size and speed. Has definitely made his presence felt Vs. Pace and Barron.

    I hope we'll have a great season from both of our DEs this year. :angryram:

    Impressive image:

    http://www.stlouisrams.com/MediaCenter/49986?MultiMedia.ListTypeID=10&MultiMedia.FolderID=49958&MultiMedia.BrowseGallery=1

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    PTHOR is offline Registered User
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    Re: Hargrove Lands in Starting Role

    This sounds promising, if he matures like they say he will, Hargrove and little will wreak havoc on the ends, that's just what we need to make up for the soft pass defense in the backfield.

  4. #4
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    Re: Hargrove Lands in Starting Role

    Huge guy... He sure has worked his way up
    :clanram: DIE HARD RAMS' FAN!

  5. #5
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    Re: Hargrove Lands in Starting Role

    Nice, very nice .....Tony Hargrove raising the level of play in the park.

    It's good to see Pace on board early too.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  6. #6
    majorram's Avatar
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    Re: Hargrove Lands in Starting Role

    I've loved this guy ever since the Rams drafted him, we are going to need one hell of a pass rush to make up for our secondary and I can see with Hargrove and Little at the ends, things look promising!!!!


    steve:clanram:

  7. #7
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    Re: Hargrove Lands in Starting Role

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith
    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    The Pace-Hargrove matchup has been one of the most exciting in practice every day. It would be easy to assume that Pace handles Hargrove without much of a problem, but even Pace admits that Hargrove has given all he can handle.
    ...

    It would seem that going against Pace in practice every day would be extremely beneficial to Hargrove, but coach Mike Martz said that tango works both ways.
    And to that, I say amen. Pace needs Hargrove's tenacity and Hargrove needs Pace's experience. There is a reason for training camp ... and liftng the play of each other to football shape is one of them. Good to see Pace in there to help elevate the play of the truly hungry youngsters.

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