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  1. #1
    HUbison's Avatar
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    It's no fun to run vs. Thomas

    It's no fun to run vs. Thomas

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    07/31/2009


    In the twilight of his NFL career, defensive tackle Hollis Thomas has come home to help stop the bleeding. The Rams hope the St. Louis native can be more than a 335-pound Band-Aid for a run defense that was gashed for a franchise-record 2,475 yards rushing last season.

    Thomas' eyes widened and his head snapped back as if to say "wow" when he was informed of that dubious feat.

    "That would be embarrassing to any defense, to any team as a whole," Thomas said. "I think everybody on this team has some pride. That should be our main objective to stop the run. Because if you can't stop the run, there's no need to try to pass-rush. You have to stop the run first."

    No one at Rams Park expects Thomas to work miracles, not at age 35 and entering his 14th NFL season. But they do expect him to help restore some of the pride in the Rams' run defense.

    "He's always been a really good run defender," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "You know, I've been saying it to the team and saying it to everybody it does start up front."

    Since he entered the league in 1996 as an undrafted rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles, stopping the run has been Thomas' forte, his meal ticket. It's dirty work, physical business, but it's what Thomas does best.

    "I like beating up on people, that's the only way I can explain it," Thomas said. "Take out the frustration. You (media) guys might write something that frustrates me, so I might take it out on the guy that's in front of me next play."

    But it will take awhile for Thomas to get into game shape.

    "He's been away from football a little bit," Spagnuolo said. "He's probably got to knock some rust off."

    Thomas, a squat 6-footer, has more than rust to knock off. Just before he signed a one-year contract with the Rams, his agent said Thomas weighed 340 pounds or just five pounds off his listed roster weight.

    "Yeah, that's ballpark," Thomas said with a grin, evoking laughter from a group of reporters.

    It must be a big ballpark, because Thomas looked heavier than 340. He struggled at times during the humid morning practice Thursday and had to be toweled down briefly by the Rams' athletic trainers.

    Lots of veteran free agents find a way to miss as much training camp as possible, but Thomas knows he needs the work. So there he was Thursday, sweating it out among 34 Rams, a group that consisted mainly of rookies and fringe players.

    "I wanted to get here and get in as much work as I can because obviously I'm rusty," Thomas said. "I haven't been doing any football stuff for the last few months. Even the people who are Hall of Famers and All-Pros just can't come in and strap it on and just run out there and make all kinds of plays."

    Thomas missed the first half of the 2008 season in New Orleans with a triceps injury, then returned to play the final eight games of the year, including two starts. But he underwent surgery for the arm injury in the offseason, and the Saints released him at the end of April.

    As training camp approached, a few other teams showed interest in Thomas. But the chance to play in his hometown, and play for a familiar face in Spagnuolo, was too good to pass up.

    "Hollis is a guy I have a little bit of history with," Spagnuolo said.

    Thomas spent his first 10 NFL seasons (1996-2005) with the Eagles. Although he didn't coach the defensive line, Spagnuolo was an Eagles assistant coach from 1999 to 2006. So he and Thomas spent seven seasons together.

    "He's a very, very smart football player," Spagnuolo said. "The last experience I had with him, he'd find ways to get everybody lined up. So that was attractive to us."

    Thomas called his mom and dad, who still live here, as soon as he signed Wednesday. "They were happy and calling my friends and letting them know," he said.

    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  2. #2
    shower beers's Avatar
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    Re: It's no fun to run vs. Thomas

    It's not fun to run FOR Thomas either.

  3. #3
    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: It's no fun to run vs. Thomas

    Finally an appropriate job for Shawgmunt; towelling down Hollis during TC.

  4. #4
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    Re: It's no fun to run vs. Thomas

    He knows what he's here for, wants to do the job, and I'm sure will help out a ton against the run, or at least almost two tenths of a ton. I love this signing.

  5. #5
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    Re: It's no fun to run vs. Thomas

    Good signing great depth.. And this time i am for real. I love this signing!!!

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    RamOfDenmark is offline Registered User
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    Re: It's no fun to run vs. Thomas

    340+ (ballpark figure! haha) pounds at 6'0 wow, just wow. I'm seeing images of Jabba the Hut while reading this article. Didn't know our run-defense was the worst ever last year either, that's really saying something considering how bad it's been year after year.

    Could be a decent signing for cheap, if he makes the team. We'll be watching him (impossible to miss)!

  7. #7
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: It's no fun to run vs. Thomas

    Just curious, does anyone know how much money he signed for?

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    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: It's no fun to run vs. Thomas

    Quote Originally Posted by TekeRam View Post
    Just curious, does anyone know how much money he signed for?
    Per JT @ The P-D:

    Thomas signed a one-year contract for what's believed to be the veterans' minimum. For someone at Thomas' experience level, such a contract is worth $845,000.

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