Friday, September 2, 2005

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

Madison Hedgecock hasn’t been in the NFL for long, but he is certainly smart enough to know that when he gets that rare opportunity to catch the ball, he better take advantage.
As a fullback in the Rams’ high-octane offense, many things are expected of Hedgecock. Clearing a path for the tailback, sealing off a linebacker or chipping at a defensive end are among the duties that generally fall within the realm of Hedgecock’s duties.
So, when quarterback Jamie Martin tossed the ball in the flat to Hedgecock with a little less than two minutes to go in the third quarter, Hedgecock was more than ready to be rewarded for his grunt work.
He caught the ball around the 7, shed a blocker, squared his shoulders to the oncoming rush of defenders and burst toward the goal line all while trying to stay inbounds. As Hedgecock began driving toward the end zone, a memory of his last sideline/endzone foray hit him.
“I remember I did that in high school and I actually got knocked out of bounds 1 yard short,” Hedgecock said. “I kind of had a flashback there.”
But Hedgecock didn’t come up short this time. He jumped over a defender from about the 3, kept his feet inbounds and reached the ball over the goal line for his first professional touchdown.
Although it was just a preseason game, it was pretty impressive for a rookie.
“I think he is way ahead of where we thought he’d be,” coach Mike Martz said. “It’s one of those plays that you don’t expect out of a rookie fullback.”
Hedgecock hasn’t exactly looked like a rookie fullback for most of the preseason. At 6-feet-3, 266 pounds, Hedgecock cuts an imposing figure and has not been afraid to stick his nose in the blocking schemes.
It’s Hedgecock’s desire to stick his nose in his playbook, though, that has helped him establish a presence on the St. Louis roster.
“Madison has really stepped up and done a nice job,” Martz said. “In what we do (at) that fullback position is really a tight end or be on the line of scrimmage or we flex him. We do so many things over there that for a rookie to come in and absorb that is pretty difficult to do. He struggled a bit for awhile. I think he really has a better understanding of what we are trying to do right now.”
Hedgecock had a slight advantage coming in because of the system he was in at North Carolina. The seventh-round choice said the offense for the Tar Heels did many of the same things the fullback does in the Rams’ offense.
“My college offense the fullback was similar to here,” Hedgecock said. “They do a lot of moving and shifting and changing assignments. I guess other offenses might be different. There are a lot of similarities to here.”
Since Hedgecock’s arrival in St. Louis, he has been in competition with incumbent Joey Goodspeed for a fullback job. But both have performed well enough to land on the roster and seem to be safe in their spots.
Now, it’s just up to Martz and the other coaches to decide who fits where.
“I just have to go out there and execute my roles and do what I’m supposed to do,” Hedgecock said. “I have got to learn and do special teams. That’s what I have to do to make this team and then go from there.”
HURRICANE RELIEF: The Rams made some adjustments to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Drive set for Friday night.
Originally the drive was going to start at 5:15 p.m., but after some discussion among the players’ wives and some corporate sponsors, the drive was extended to an all day event.
So, the players’ wives, representatives from the Quarterback Club and others will be collection monetary donations at Baer Park (adjacent to the Edward Jones Dome) starting at 7 a.m.
From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., donations will be taken at all entrances to the Edward Jones Dome.
PLAYERS DO THEIR PART: Trev and Marshall Faulk are distant cousins, but they are close in their desire to help with the cause in New Orleans. Trev Faulk is from Lafayette, Louis. and has been devastated by the affects of Katrina, much like Marshall Faulk.
“The last couple of days, my heart and my mind have been back home with all the people going through that back there,” Trev Faulk said. “It’s tough.”
With so many of his friends and family affected by the devastation in his home state, Trev Faulk says he feels compelled to try to organize some sort of help.
“I know I personally am going to donate some money to the Red Cross,” Trev Faulk said. “I was planning on talking to Marshall. I’m sure he’d be interested in doing something and I know he has a bunch more contacts than I do. I’m sure between the two of us we can probably get something going.”
INJURY CHECKUP: Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett did some running to the side during Thursday’s practice, but Martz said he doesn’t expect Pickett to play, but Pickett is getting closer to being ready.
Trev Faulk missed most of the workout because of tightness in his back. Leonard Little returned to the practice field but did not participate because of a bout with the flu. The flu bug that has been going around caught up with rookie guard Claude Terrell, who missed the practice.
Michael Stone watched the afternoon workout because of swelling in his leg. Martz said Stone should be ready to play Friday night, but they kept him out of practice as a precaution.
Arlen Harris (concussion) and Terry Fair (bruised spinal column) also sat out the workout. Linebacker Brandon Chillar was limited because of a shoulder injury, but Martz said he hopes to see Chillar on the field against the Chiefs, but would probably be a game time decision.