Thursday, August 10, 2006
By Nick Wagoner
Like many teams, the Colts made it a point to target rookie cornerback Tye Hill in his first game action in the NFL.
Despite the constant barrage and onslaught from the opponent, Hill had a solid first outing, appearing with the first team at left corner in the nickel package and getting plenty of repetitions with the second unit.
“Tye Hill certainly played a lot and was in on the action a lot,” coach Scott Linehan said. “He made some rookie mistakes, but as the game went on and he started getting his hands on more balls, (he was better). I was really happy with him.”
Hill was strong in coverage for the most part as the Colts repeatedly tested him, but missed a few opportunities to make plays as a couple of interceptions slipped through his fingers. One chance probably would have been a touchdown as he jumped a route in the third quarter, but couldn’t hang on.
“They came at me a lot,” Hill said. “I expected that. That’s what I practice for. I prepare for nights like this when they are going to come at me. The only thing is, I should have had some interceptions.”
Hill was also whistled for an illegal contact penalty.
“I have to continue to work on that and making plays on the ball,” Hill said. “I made plays on the ball in practice; I just don’t know what happened tonight.”
Admittedly nervous before his debut, it took Hill a bit to adjust to the speed of the NFL. But it didn’t take long for Hill to get the butterflies out of his stomach.
“I most definitely had them,” Hill said. I just had to calm myself down. It was my first game, but I just kept telling myself, ‘It’s football. I’ve been playing this all my life.’”
BACKUP RUNNERS IMPRESS: The competition for the backup running back jobs has been one of the Rams’ training camp’s most heated.
But, most figured that competition would be for the No 2 job and would be limited to a two-man race of Moe Williams and Tony Fisher. In the past week, culminating with his performance against the Colts on Thursday night, Fred Russell is starting to make some noise about landing a roster spot.
Russell broke off an impressive 54-yard run that previous No. 3 running backs for the Rams probably would not have been able to make. Although Russell didn’t get much of anything in the rest of his chances, he showed enough speed and shake to continue to get a look as a potential change-of-pace back.
“We’ll see what happens,” Russell said. “I have to keep making plays. I’ll just keep making big plays and we’ll see how the chips fall.”
Meanwhile, Fisher showed some change of direction and power running skills as he finished with 33 yards and a touchdown on five carries.
Moe Williams, who has only been in the team’s camp for about a week, performed well in his first game since microfracture knee surgery. Williams displayed the power that made him one of the league’s best short-yardage backs in the past. He finished with 17 yards on seven carries with a touchdown and had three catches for 19 yards.
Most important, Williams reported that he felt great after the game.
DRESSED DOWN: The Rams have been relatively injury free throughout the preseason. That continued Thursday night as the only player that showed any signs of pain was defensive end Anthony Hargrove.
Hargrove suffered a slightly sprained knee in the first quarter, but continued to play and came out fine.
“My foot just got caught up,” Hargrove said. “The knee is fine. It’s just a little sore.”
A pair of Rams, as expected, was on the sideline in street clothes during the contest. Cornerback Jerametrius Butler, who aggravated a hamstring injury he suffered during the offseason, did not play.
“We came out very healthy,” Linehan said. “There were no significant injuries. JB had tightness in his hamstring a couple days ago, tried to get out there in pregame and wasn’t able to go. I’m feeling really good about our injury situation right now, knock on wood.”
Linebacker Drew Wahlroos, who broke his right hand during a practice last week, joined Butler on the sideline.
Safety Ron Bartell, who is battling a sprained ankle, played. He appeared on special teams and worked with the third unit at free safety.
RAM BITS: After the majority of their starters departed, the only two that stayed in beyond the time of the rest of the “ones” were free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, tight end Joe Klopfenstein and left guard Richie Incognito…Defensive end Matthew Rice made his presence felt for the first time in the preseason by coming up with a trio of sacks…Matt Turk was solid in his first effort as a Ram, punting two times for an average of 48 yards with both kicks downed inside the 20.