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    Inside Slant -- 8-7-06

    The addition of Moe Williams has added depth to the Rams' depth at running back, and while the team might still be on the lookout for another back, the play of Tony Fisher, as well as Williams, has coach Scott Linehan feeling better about the situation.
    After a strong performance in a scrimmage last Saturday, Linehan said of Fisher, "I think Fish has really shown that he's our No. 2 legitimate back right now. Moe will be competing with him. It's a little bit different, they have different styles. Fish is a younger version than Moe but maybe a different style runner. He (Fisher) certainly brings a lot of things to the table. He wears a lot of hats.

    "He can be your No. 2 back, he can be your third-down back, he can be your first-down back in passing situations. He can go in on all the special teams and excel. He's excellent in a lot of the perimeter receiver-type things that you do with a running back. He's got a lot of value in all phases of our offense."

    Williams, who last played at Minnesota, went unsigned throughout the off-season as he recovered from December microfracture surgery on his knee. When Michael Bennett was traded to the Chiefs, the Rams quickly signed Williams.

    After his first practice, Linehan said of Williams, "He seemed to move good. It looked like he has been obviously working and getting in shape but I think the biggest thing right now is, he's 32 years old, and we will be smart with him and really work his conditioning more than anything right now."

    Asked about coming back and playing after the knee injury, Williams said, "Mentally, it's not a problem. Physically, I'm going to do what my body allows. My biggest thing is that I believe when you talk, you've got to back it up. Mentally, I can back up every word I say. Physically, I hope my body holds up."

    As for his style, Williams said, "I was always taught in high school that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, which is probably the reason my body feels like it does right now. I don't try to do much dodging, but it's paid off for me. I've gotten short-yardage back roles and third-down back roles from that running style. It's kept me in the league a little bit."

    After being successful on short yardage in the scrimmage, Linehan said, "That's the type of running style that you're looking for, when you put Moe in. It's nothing fancy; he'll be the first one to tell you. But it's downhill and it's effective. You can give Moe the ball and he's going to get yards and he's a really good pass protector. He's very effective that way. I was really happy with that as well."

    CAMP CALENDAR: Camp breaks Aug. 20.


    An interesting competition is brewing at left guard between Richie Incognito and rookie Mark Setterstrom.

    Incognito opened training camp working exclusively with the first unit. But in recent days, Setterstrom has been taking some of the snaps with the first group. It's no reflection on Incognito because coaches are pleased with his progress. It's more that Setterstrom has impressed with his consistency.

    "Setterstrom has been a very, very pleasant surprise for a rookie," coach Scott Linehan said. "He plays at the speed of a veteran. It's not foreign ground for him to be out there playing with (the starters). If you throw him in with the ones he's going to play just like he would if he was with the third group. That's just a special trait for a young guy to be able to do that. He's a real level-headed guy that knows how to play the game. He's one of those throwback types of lineman and he's certainly got a chance as well."

    At the start of camp, Incognito admittedly put a grade of a five or six on himself for technique. He knows it's what he has to work on, having not played a game since the 2003 season at Nebraska. But he competes, and that's what Linehan likes about him.

    "Richie's got a great chance to really establish himself by how he performs here in the upcoming weeks," Linehan said. "He's played very well and he's competing day in and day out. He's played through some pain: He had an infected toe and he played with it. I think he's still trying to manage that, but he's really shown that he has the toughness and mental toughness to fight through it. He's really been playing pretty mistake free. That's unusual for a young guy. It does help to be working there next to Orlando (Pace) and Andy (McCollum) because when in doubt, ask the guy next to you if he knows. He's certainly given a pretty good impression so far."

    LT Orlando Pace missed a day of practice last week because of the birth of his third son. Not only did the birth get him out of the heat during the day, but Pace is also able to avoid babies crying in the middle of the night.

    "I planned it pretty good," Pace said. "I can sleep good at night. I'm here at night in the hotel."

    On a serious note, Pace likes what he sees from the team's new coaching staff.

    "I feel good just to be in a fresh start with a new environment with new coaches and different schemes and different challenges," Pace said. "If you're in the same regime, you kind of get bored with it."

    New coach Scott Linehan is certainly glad to have Pace as his bookend left tackle.

    Said Linehan, "He's the perfect ... if you were going to make one of those left tackles, he's what you're looking for. He's been out here grinding with everybody. He doesn't miss any reps. He certainly does things that you can't coach, but he's also very coachable.

    "He takes pride in his technique. It's a luxury for us to have a guy that young guys can watch to learn how to do the right things."

    Pace also likes the fact that it appears Linehan will make a commitment to running the ball.

    "We're really emphasizing the run, and going after it pretty good," pace said. "It's one of those situations where we are running the ball a lot more in camp than I probably have since I have been here. Just the emphasis on the run, the technique, what the coaches want from us, you can tell it's a different regime.

    "I like the balance, where teams don't come into the Edward Jones Dome saying, 'They're going to pass the ball 50 times a game.' I really enjoy the balance of knowing we can run and pass."

    In the morning of a day where the Rams were scheduled to have one practice in the afternoon, coach Scott Linehan told the players they were going somewhere for a special walkthrough.

    It turned out they went to a local water park, and were able to swim and relax for about an hour.

    "It was more than anything therapy for the mind," Linehan said. "It's good for your legs to get in the water. We went down a couple of slides. That was interesting.

    "I saw a human chain going down a slide. Everybody came up when they went down in the water. It was a change of pace. I think it was good for mental health of the guys."

    Defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said he avoided the slides.

    "I just stayed in my inner tube and tried to rest a little bit," he said.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: If you don't get the little things right, the big things won't happen. I say that all the time and it's not a phrase I coined, but it's certainly something I believe in. Listening to Troy Aikman the other day talking about going into the Hall of Fame this weekend, he was talking about the difference between the Cowboys' early Super Bowl teams and their teams at the end part of his career and he said that he felt like his later teams just didn't take care of little things like the early teams. I thought that was very prophetic, that's something that we can't lose sight of. You've got to remind yourself, coaches and players alike, when things aren't going well you've got to go back and repeat them." - Coach Scott Linehan of taking care of details in practice.



    S Ron Bartell suffered a sprained ankle in practice Aug. 3, and while he did not participate for two days, he did some running at the team's Aug. 5 scrimmage.

    LB Drew Wahlroos, who played on special teams last season, broke a bone in his hand.

    OL Blaine Saipaia started practicing four or five days earlier than expected after injured his calf before the start of training camp. Saipaia missed six days of practice.

    RB Moe Williams was signed to compete with Tony Fisher for the backup job behind Steven Jackson.

    FB Paul Smith stood out in the first week of camp and has moved ahead of Madison Hedgecock as the starting fullback.

    BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Dave Ragone for the No. 3 QB job - Fitzpatrick outplayed Ragone in the team's scrimmage last Saturday, showing accuracy and poise. Ragone got better with work, but overthrew numerous receivers. Ragone played against the No. 2 defense, while Fitzpatrick faced the No. 3 defense, but Ragone was with the No. 2 offense.

    OTHER BATTLEFRONTS: Matt Turk vs. Andy Groom for punting job - Turk was thought to have the distinct edge entering camp, but Groom has punted well and Turk had a minor knee injury that affected him in the first few days of camp.

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK: FB Paul Smith - An under-the-radar signing late in the off-season, Smith is currently the No. 1 fullback, ahead of Madison Hedgecock. Coach Scott Linehan said he likes Smith's "toughness." Linehan added, "He comes out every day and, first of all, he goes about his business and plays football with his pads on. That's what you want to see in a fullback. A fullback's role is a thankless job and he comes out every day and he tries to put it right on the numbers and put a guy on his back. Plus, he has the ability to catch the ball. He runs well enough to be a very, very good special teams player. He excelled in that role for Detroit the last couple of years."

    Linehan said Hedgecock will now see some time as an H-back. "We're going start working him some not only at fullback, but put him in line. He's got the size to line up in line like a tight end and be more of a move guy, so to speak, more of an H-back type of guy. We'll experiment with that."

    ROOKIE REPORT: TE Joe Klopfenstein has moved ahead of Dominique Byrd as the starting tight end. Byrd is also being used as an H-back ... WR Marques Hagans is making progress as a pass-catcher, and will likely get a look as a kickoff and punt returner in the exhibition opener against the Colts ... G Mark Setterstrom has impressed the coaches with his technique and consistency. He might get some snaps with the first unit at left guard against Indianapolis.

    INJURY REPORT: S Ron Bartell is expected back soon from a sprained ankle. "I think it was considered more of a mild sprain, considerable amount of swelling, but it's down low, which is a good sign," coach Scott Linehan said. "He told me he had a high ankle sprain last year which affected him. He said it's definitely better, which is good news. I know he's relieved - we all were - that it's not one of those long-term deals."

    LB Drew Wahlroos will be able to return when the cast on his hand is smaller. Wahlroos underwent surgery to repair a broken bone in his hand. Said Linehan, "They're going to put a pin in that; he broke the metatarsal in the hand. Some times they don't have to pin them, sometimes they do. In this case they're going to go in this evening and put a pin in there and he should, at some point, be able to at least put something over that and be able to play."

  2. #2
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    Re: Inside Slant -- 8-7-06

    Sounds like there is some good competition out there. I can't wait for the game on Thursday so I can see for myself what we have.

    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

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    Re: Inside Slant -- 8-7-06

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMMAN68
    Sounds like there is some good competition out there. I can't wait for the game on Thursday so I can see for myself what we have.
    Me too Carlos. The Fitzpatrick/Ragone competition should be interesting. I'm looking forward to see what Hagans can do too.


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