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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Sep. 21 2004

    Who would have thought Tony Horne would be so hard to replace?

    From 1998 through 2000, Horne returned five kickoffs for touchdowns for the
    Rams - four in the regular season, and one in the playoffs. With Horne leading
    the way, the Rams led the league in kickoff returns and average drive start
    (following kickoffs) in 1999.

    He was considered one of the NFL's most feared return men when he signed with
    Kansas City as a restricted free agent after the 2000 season. But beset by a
    toe problem, he never played another game in the NFL, getting cut by the Chiefs
    on Sept. 3, 2001.

    Nonetheless, when Horne departed, so did the Rams' kickoff return game. They
    haven't scored on a kickoff return since Horne left. In fact, they haven't
    really come close. Only once since 2000 has the team had a kickoff return go
    for more than 42 yards, with coach Mike Martz going through a succession of
    return men:

    In 2001, Trung Canidate was the primary kickoff returner, but Yo
    Murphy, Dre Bly and Aveion Cason also had at least four returns apiece.

    In '02, it was Terrence Wilkins, but Canidate, Troy Edwards and
    Lamar Gordon also got in the picture, particularly when Wilkins was benched for
    the final three games of the season.

    Last season, Arlen Harris averaged 23.0 yards on 51 returns, but
    Mike Furrey (seven returns), Joffrey Reynolds (six) - remember him? - and even
    DeJuan Groce (one) also got into the act.

    So what does Martz look for in a kickoff returner?

    "Get us in good field position," Martz said. "The ideal guy would be a guy like
    Tony Horne, that's a threat to take it the distance at any time. That's what
    you'd like to have. But we don't have that right now."

    Not even close. Two games into the season, the Rams have one of the worst
    kickoff return games in the NFL. They have advanced the ball no farther than
    the 23-yard line on any return this season - and that's the only time they've
    advanced the ball past the 20 on a kick that actually was returned. (Sunday
    against Atlanta, they started on the 40 - per league rule - when Jay Feely's
    fourth-quarter kickoff rolled out of bounds.)

    Harris handled the Rams' first kickoff return of the season, against Arizona,
    but has since given way to rookie Steven Jackson.

    "Steven is fearless," Martz said. "He absolutely is, and he's a guy that will
    fly up in there and hit a seam and go with it. But the more involved he becomes
    in the offense, the less chance we'll use him as a kickoff returner."

    Jackson didn't return any kickoffs in the preseason, but Martz decided to try
    him against Arizona and Atlanta because, "I just felt like he's such a good
    open-field runner - he sees things so well - that we're going to get good field
    position out of it."

    But a couple of Jackson's returns have been moved back because of holding
    penalties. And Jackson didn't help matters on a touchback against the Falcons,
    getting penalized 10 yards for taunting.

    "I guess he just did it without thinking," Martz said. "He was upset. You just
    have to have better control of your emotions. You just do. We obviously
    addressed it."

    Kickoff returns frequently end in violent collisions. But when asked if he was
    worried about the danger of injury with Jackson returning kicks, Martz joked:
    "He won't hurt anybody. ... I told him to take it easy on guys when he returns
    the ball."

    Without getting specific, Martz said the team is addressing its kick return
    problem.

    "We were really close on a couple of them, very close," he said. "We've got a
    lot of new guys back there. And obviously with Steven returning kicks, he's not
    done it for a while. We'll get that going."

    Jackson last returned kicks as a freshman at Oregon State in 2001. He returned
    only seven that season but had a 34.3-yard average, including an 89-yard
    touchdown against Northern Arizona


  2. #2
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    Like Avenger said, it's nice to see that some writers are getting their ideas for articles from the Rams message boards. But that doesn't excuse Thomas from not following up with the question why?

    Why are the Rams having such a hard time for so long in finding "the ideal guy ... that's a threat to take it the distance at any time" ? Granted it's a crap shoot to identify the "ideal guy". But its clear for all to see that lumbering RBs aren't going to fit the mold. Yet it is deja vue all over again and again and again ...

  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    You'd think Jim would give us a royalty or two, but no!

  4. #4
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    The Rams have a different kick returner every year. They simply need to pick a guy and stick with him. Steven Jackson is obviously not that guy, because he won't be a backup for much longer. Once DeJuan Groce and Kevin Curtis are fully recovered from their injuries, I'd like to see them get a chance.

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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam
    You'd think Jim would give us a royalty or two, but no!
    Or at least a column inch.

  6. #6
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    by Fanball.com

    The Bears have waived wide receiver/kick returner Daryl Jones. Through two games, Jones had averaged 18.7 yards per return and had zero receptions


    Anyone know about this guy? I'd like to see someone back there that MIGHT make a big play. Why don't we have McDonald back there? He's not being used much at wr so why not get him on the field with his speed. Why not this, why not that? There seem to be so many options that would be better than putting the supposed future of the team back there to plod his way up to the 15.

  7. #7
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    First of all, I would like to congratulate mokler for posting in this thread. Growth has already started.

    Now, about a KR. I think the reason McDonald isn't back there is due to Curtis and his shin splints. Furrey has great hands for a KR but no speed. This won't come as a revelation to anyone, but the ST's just dosen't seem to be a major focal point for Martz for some reason.

  8. #8
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    What Bears fans think.
    Small, fast, shifty, but somehow average on returns.

  9. #9
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    I would like to thank Tex for ALMOST only commenting on the subject rather than the poster.

    I disagree about McDonald though. If Martz is that scared of losing his 4th receiver then...I don't even know what to think. Obviously the ST's coaches over the years weren't the only problem, if a problem at all. You're right, Martz is doing something wrong in the ST's department.

  10. #10
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    Horne is long gone, and so too is Alvin Hammond.

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    I think the reason McDonald isn't back there is due to Curtis and his shin splints.
    I think the point sMokerMan was making was that McDonald has been so underutilized at WR that if the Rams want to exploit his speed it couldn't hurt to put him back at KR. Surely Looker can make up for the loss of Curtis' catches.

  11. #11
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    McDonald is returning punts, not sure if the Rams want to use him on KRs also.

  12. #12
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    McDonald is returning punts,
    If that's what you call it.

  13. #13
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    The kickoff return is nice. It's nice to have a guy like Dante Hall or Desmond Howard. But, in my opinion, the purpose of that guy is to HOLD ON TO THE BALL (<cough> Az <cough) and get good field position. I'm usually more worried about the bad play on the kickoffs and punts that let guys go all over the place.
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  14. #14
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    Is Horne still playing?
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  15. #15
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it

    I've got to believe there's a specialist out there somewhere...


    Someone who returned kicks in NFL Europe? Or the Arena league? Or college?

    That said, you'd think other specialists would be easier to find, but the truth is a guy like long-snapper extraordinare Chris Massey is, in fact, a rare commodity.

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