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Thread: Inside Slant

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    Inside Slant

    There was some irony as new Rams coach Scott Linehan met with the media March 29 at a NFC coaches breakfast at the league meeting in Orlando.
    While Linehan spoke, running back Steven Jackson was getting ready for a day of workouts and his own audience with the media.

    Said Linehan of Jackson, "He's the guy I'm most excited about on the team. We're going to be balanced. He's going to carry a big load for us. Marshall (Faulk) has hopefully got a year or two left in him. But Steven's going to be the guy getting the majority of the carries. I think he's one of the most exciting young players in the league right now. He really fits, obviously, the offense and the running game that I'm most comfortable with. You don't need a whole lot of runs (running plays), you just need to get him a whole lot of carries. He's one of those kinds of guys."

    Asked if Jackson is excited about the expected workload, Linehan said, "I think so. Obviously, he's going to sit back and wait and see if it's true, I'm sure. If he stays healthy, we've got a good enough group up front where I think we can really have a great year running the ball. We've got threats at receiver. I've always said, if you've got a receiving corps that people have to defend, the running game's easy. It really is.

    "You can have a great running game with the receiving corps like we do. But you've got to utilize it. You've got to give the guy the ball. And if you say you're going to run it, you've got to run it. If people play a 2-deep zone, you've got to say you're going to run the football."

    When told that Jackson had a newspaper headline taped at the top of his locker last year that read: "Give me the damn ball," Linehan said, "I like it. I want guys that want the ball. I've never coached a great player that doesn't want the ball. The presentation can help that. All you've got to say is, 'Hey coach, give me the ball 25 times. I'll do something with it.' That's all I need. I don't need any of the attitude."

    Jackson showed some of that "attitude" last year, and there was hint of it when he spoke March 29.

    After first saying, "I am approaching it with a focus of saying this is me getting a new beginning. I feel like I have a chance to start over my career," he later talked about last season and said, "You don't want to be in the doghouse of the head coach. No matter what you say about him, no matter how you feel about him, you don't want ... this is the guy that is calling the plays. You don't want to be in the doghouse of a guy like coach Martz.

    "At the same time, you have to address him as a professional and ask him if it is a problem can we sever it and get on with it. At times, I thought we did sit down, discuss what the problem was and move on. At times, in the heat of the battle of the games, it just seemed like I wasn't getting my touches."

    Of course, he seems to forget that Martz called plays for only five games, and that he had one of the largest total of runs for minus yardage in the NFL.

    After Jackson's comments, Martz told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Jackson was "never was in my doghouse. There's an intensity and a focus we wanted out of him because he's a special athlete. We were always trying to apply that pressure and keep him motoring."

    Jackson said he is ready to be the focal point of the offense.

    "I want to be able to do all things; run, catch, receive, run inside the tackles, outside the tackles," he said. "I want to be that triple threat so on third downs I don't have to come out."

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —Coach Scott Linehan said he plans to talk to running back Marshall Faulk soon to get a commitment regarding Faulk's plans to play this season.

    "He hasn't told me he isn't coming back," Linehan said. "I feel he wants to play and he wouldn't be as involved as he has been in what we're doing and plan to do with the offense if that wasn't his thinking. But I will talk to him soon. I don't want any surprises."

    Linehan said the recent signing of running back Tony Fisher is unrelated to Faulk.

    "That signing is really not for any other reason other than we need a third guy that if called upon can do the job," Linehan said. "That's really more Fisher's fit for us right now.

    "I think he's your classic third-down back. That doesn't necessarily mean he replaces what Marshall will do or anything like that. He's got some size to match up in pass protection. He's also got some elusiveness to get open in route running, and proved that when he played at Green Bay. We liked him coming out of college when I was at Minnesota for the very same role.

    "Plus, he was exceptional on special teams. I said from the beginning that our depth players were going to impact our special teams and give us a boost there, too. So that made him that much more attractive."

    —The Rams held training camp at their own facility last summer, and new coach Scott Linehan plans to continue that.

    "It's about 99 percent official," he said. "We've just got to tie up some loose ends. But it looks like it's going to work."

    Only morning practices were open to fans last year because of parking issues, and Linehan wants to have as many opportunities for fans to watch as possible.

    "I think that's what training camp is for," Linehan said. "People can get close to, and watch, their favorite players perform in practice. If they've got a little time in the summer to come out and watch 'em, I think it's a great thing."

    —The Rams will open their preseason schedule with a nationally televised game against the Colts on Thursday, Aug. 10. They will then play home against Houston on the second weekend, and travel to Kansas City and Miami for games on Saturday, Aug. 26 and Thursday, Aug. 31.

    —Because of free agency losses, the Rams have had 11 compensatory draft picks in the last three years. They will get another two this year, although both will be at the end of the seventh round. The Rams lost defensive end Bryce Fisher, guard Matt Lehr and linebacker Tommy Polley in free agency following the 2004 season, and signed linebacker Chris Claiborne.

    "We were actually anticipating that," coach Scott Linehan said. "It was probably about right on with what Jay (Zygmunt) said we were going to get. It's nice to have that option, because there's going to be guys that are going to be priority (undrafted) free agents that you'd like to be able to get. You can get some pretty good guys there."

    Last year, the Rams selected quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and fullback Madison Hedgecock with seventh-round compensatory choices.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It gives you more flexibility. Obviously, if we didn't get a linebacker like Will (Witherspoon), we were going to have to definitely go linebacker big in the draft. We still may (pick a linebacker). But you still stick to the fact that you're going to stack that board and take the best player. You're not going to compromise the system in the draft." — Coach Scott Linehan on how the team's free-agent signings affect their approach in the draft.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    Coach Scott Linehan isn't concerned about recently-signed punter Matt Turk, who missed the 2005 season because of a groin injury and will be 38 in June.

    "He's not a young guy, but he's not in his 40s," Linehan said. "I think we counted four or five punters last year that were in their 40s. ... So I look at it like he's still got a lot in him. I was able to be around him last year at Miami, and I saw he still had a lot left in his leg."

    —The Rams are still hoping to sign LB Raonall Smith, who was with the Vikings last season.

    TEAM NEEDS

    1. Tight end: Brandon Manumaleuna's salary increases to $1.325 million this season and there is no other proven depth on the roster. Under former coach Mike Martz, the tight end was often an after-thought in the passing game, but new coach Scott Linehan appears to have a different philosophy. There is a need because a play-maker would help the offense, especially in the red zone.

    2. Linebacker: The two free agents signed last season, Chris Claiborne and Dexter Coakley, were disappointments. Claiborne has already been released, while Coakley might be back if he recovers from a broken leg, but it will probably be as a backup. The Rams moved quickly and signed Will Witherspoon, and said he will play middle linebacker. A strong-side linebacker is still needed.

    3. Guard: Adam Timmerman is getting up in years and while there is some hope for Blaine Saipaia, he is an unknown. Claude Terrell played as a rookie last season, and needs an off-season in the weight room to build strength and stamina. But some competitive depth is necessary, as well as a tackle behind Orlando Pace and Alex Barron.

    FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

    TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

    UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: P Bryan Barker; RB Aveion Cason; CB Terry Fair; DE Tyoka Jackson; QB Jamie Martin; OG Tom Nutten; TE Roland Williams.

    UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): S Mike Furrey; CB Chris Johnson; LB Jeremy Loyd; OT Matt Morgan.

    RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Kevin Curtis; DE Brandon Green; CB DeJuan Groce; WR Shaun McDonald.

    EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: CB Dwight Anderson; DT Jeremy Calahan; S Dwaine Carpenter; TE Jerome Collins; DE Clifford Dukes; LB Mike Goolsby.

    PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: WR Isaac Bruce; LS Chris Massey; OG Blaine Saipaia; QB Jeff Smoker; LB Drew Wahlroos.

    PLAYERS ACQUIRED: CB Fakhir Brown; S Corey Chavous; RB Tony Fisher; QB Gus Frerotte; DT La'Roi Glover; P Matt Turk; LB Will Witherspoon.

    PLAYERS LOST: S Adam Archuleta; LB Chris Claiborne; RB Arlen Harris; CB Corey Ivy; DT Damione Lewis; NT Ryan Pickett; OL Rex Tucker.


  2. #2
    viper's Avatar
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    Re: Inside Slant

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith
    PLAYERS LOST: S Adam Archuleta; LB Chris Claiborne; RB Arlen Harris; CB Corey Ivy; DT Damione Lewis; NT Ryan Pickett; OL Rex Tucker.
    I didn't realize Ivy was gone. Anyone know who he signed with? I liked the attitude he brought to the secondary. Sorry to see him go.

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    Re: Inside Slant

    Ivy's with Baltimore now.

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    Re: Inside Slant

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenfleece
    Ivy's with Baltimore now.
    Thanks, Goldenfleece.

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    Re: Inside Slant

    i think instead of the linebackers the defensive line needs to be addressed more, especially the end position... little is not getting any younger and hargrove is too streaky

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    Re: Inside Slant

    Thanks for the article man!
    RamsFan16

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