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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Kennedy casts aside pain, gains toughness

    By Jim Thomas

    Just his luck. Two plays into the 2006 season, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy suffered a broken right hand.

    He quickly got the hand casted up during the game and returned to finish out the season-opening upset of Denver -- all of which earned plaudits from the Rams' coaching staff.

    "Here's a guy that broke his hand, and he came right back on the field," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said at the time. "He wanted to play. ... So I give credit to Jimmy for coming back out with the broken hand, and being in pain, and going out and playing pretty well."

    The next day, Kennedy had a couple of pins inserted to stabilize the fracture. He would be in a cast for the next four to six weeks. Kennedy kept playing, but the results were something short of spectacular.

    "I forgot who I was," Kennedy said Sunday in Green Bay. "I forgot what got me here, to tell you the truth. And it's not in a cocky way that I'm saying this. Once I broke my hand, I started going backwards for a second. Playing with pain, you start making excuses. I wasn't trying to make excuses, but I wasn't really focused. I was focused on my hand when I was out there."

    But against Green Bay, he forgot about the hand and just worried about playing football. The result was Kennedy's best game of the

    season. He recorded six tackles, matching his career high for a regular-season contest. He forced a first-quarter fumble by Packers running back Vernand Morency that set up the Rams' first touchdown.

    If teammate Leonard Little hadn't swiped the ball away from Brett Favre in the closing seconds of the game to save a 23-20 Rams victory, it looked like Kennedy would have at least sacked Favre.

    "I think Jimmy played very well," coach Scott Linehan said. "I saw him in the backfield a couple times. He and I talked earlier in the week. He's got himself at such a high standard on how he wants to play. He won't let it be an excuse, but I know the hand has limited him in using his hands. So he decided just to use his power and his ability to get up the field. I saw a new spark in him, I thought, in this game."

    Even though they were gouged for 106 yards rushing by the unheralded Noah Herron, the Rams need that kind of spark on a weekly basis from Kennedy for the defense to flourish.

    After letting former starters Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis sign elsewhere as free agents during the offseason, the Rams were counting on Kennedy to man one of the defensive tackle spots this season. There were no alternatives. And they were counting on him to handle the nose tackle spot, which isn't his natural position.

    "We're talking about a guy who has played nose (five) games in his life and a couple games in preseason," Haslett said. "He was a '3-technique' here (previously), and in college."

    The "3-technique" is more of a playmaking position, calling on the tackle to shoot gaps and penetrate into the backfield. But after signing six-time Pro Bowler La'Roi Glover in free agency to play that position, the Rams needed Kennedy's size and bulk (6-4, 325) at the nose.

    "It's totally different," Haslett said. "You've got to be a power player at nose. You've got to be an anchor, and be a guy who can stop the run from tackle to tackle."

    The Rams hadn't seen much of that from Kennedy.

    "Jimmy can do better," Haslett said after the Detroit game. "Jimmy's playing like they were throwing the ball every snap. He was running around blocks on every snap. He's really athletic. He's too athletic for his own good."

    But Kennedy took a step in the right direction against Green Bay.

    "He played his best game of the year," Haslett said. "He was very active. Did a lot of good things. Rushed the quarterback well. ... He's starting to come along and understand exactly what we want. I think he has a chance to be a pretty good nose in the league."

    By his own admission, Kennedy had a terrible week of practice leading up to the Packers game. His talk with Linehan helped sort things out.

    "On film, I haven't used my right hand at all," Kennedy said. "He noticed it, and my D-line coach (Brian Baker) noticed it."

    So he basically forgot about the hand. He took the cast off last Thursday in practice and played with just a padded lineman's glove. Against the Packers, he just used the glove, without extra padding.

    "I didn't wrap it at all," Kennedy said. "When I'm out there, and I have the cast on, I'm thinking about my hand. I'm thinking about not hitting it, and it's an unconscious thing. Mentally, it was killing me. I just went out there (against Green Bay), and put the glove on, and just played."

    No cast; no problem.

    Mitchell visits

    Street free agent Qasim Mitchell, an offensive lineman who played in 23 games with 16 starts for Chicago from 2003 to 2005, worked out Tuesday for the Rams. No signing is imminent.

  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Kennedy casts aside pain, gains toughness

    Unfortunately the defensive tackle position doesn't get alot of attention in the NFL. The position is underrated by most football fans. The fact of the matter is the tackles need to be able to tie up lineman and fill gaps at the same time. If successful this allows the middle linebacker the ability to free lance untouched. I would say Ray Lewis had his best seasons when Tony Siragusa was clogging up the line with his huge body. That's just one example there are several others.

  3. #3
    general counsel's Avatar
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    Re: Kennedy casts aside pain, gains toughness

    Broken hand, just toss off the cast and get on the field and gut it out for the good of the squad? Great team player, the upside is still there with the Big Bear. The position requires transition time, he is going to be an outstanding player down the stretch this year.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel

  4. #4
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Kennedy casts aside pain, gains toughness

    Kennedy has really proven himself to me in playing through the injury and playing through it effectively.

  5. #5
    coy bacon Guest

    Re: Kennedy casts aside pain, gains toughness

    Three years, 1st round pick, and just one good game. Excuses, I know them. Mr. Bell says that every distribution has its outliers. His mean is terrible.

    Until I see consistent performances, no sale. The man has not earned his paycheck.


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