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Thread: Kennedy Enjoying Position Change
Kennedy Enjoying Position Change
Monday, August 21, 2006
By Nick Wagoner
For most of Jimmy Kennedy’s football playing life, he has played defensive tackle or, what the coaches and players refer to as the “three” technique.
It was a position Kennedy enjoyed because it allowed him the type of freedom to attack the quarterback and do a variety of things. But, after three NFL seasons working in the “three” technique and many years before that in the position, the coaching staff change led to a change in position for Kennedy.
As the Rams move closer toward their first regular season game of the Scott Linehan era, they have seen changes at a number of places. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has installed a more aggressive, multiple defense.
In the middle of that new defense is Kennedy, the defensive tackle turned nose guard. For Kennedy, that change has been something to behold.
“It’s completely opposite,” Kennedy said. “Believe it or not, you have more calls at the nose guard spot. You have to cover for certain ends, you have to basically hold up two guards, you have to know if it’s run or pass which is hard at times because you are getting double teamed most of the time.”
In other words, Kennedy went from the high rent district of defensive tackle positions to one of the most thankless jobs a defensive player can have. He’s the equivalent of a set up man in baseball; it’s his job to open room for others to make plays.
Chances are, the only way he can truly be noticed is if he does something wrong. Unless, of course, you are Haslett. When Haslett came to St. Louis, he knew he had to identify ways to improve the defense not just through bringing in outside help, but also by putting the holdovers in better position to make a difference.
Haslett and Co. quickly targeted La’Roi Glover, a six-time Pro Bowler with experience at nose guard and the three technique, but a track record of better success away from nose guard.
Soon after Glover signed, the Rams waved goodbye to Ryan Pickett, who signed with Green Bay. Before he knew it, Kennedy was asked to handle that vacated position.
Perhaps the hardest part of the adjustment for Kennedy is growing accustomed to not being the guy making the play all the time but being the guy that sets up the play makers.
“My whole career I played three technique which is the D tackle spot,” Kennedy said. “At times it can get frustrating because you are getting double teamed. When you watch the film, when you are getting double teamed and you have Will Witherspoon at linebacker running free behind you it makes your job much better.”
Kennedy has not disappointed his new coaching staff so far in the preseason, though. After a strong first week against Indianapolis, Kennedy was the first name mentioned by Haslett after the Houston game for his performance.
Because the Rams defense is now multiple (they use the 4-3 formation as a base, but work in nickel, dime, and 3-4 elements), Kennedy isn’t always on the field. He has played 21 plays in the preseason so far and says he has made a “few” tackles.
Whether or not he is making tackles, he has done something to draw the praise of his defensive coordinator.
“Jimmy has been outstanding,” Haslett said. “We’ll see as we get into these next couple of weeks and the Denver game how he handles it, but he’s been outstanding in practice and he played well last week. Coach (Brian) Baker tried to do some things with his stance to help him out and take advantage of his power. He has big legs, a big butt. It’s hard to move the guy. I’m very impressed with Jimmy so far.”
The addition of Baker as defensive line coach has also made a dramatic difference in Kennedy’s adjustment to the new position. Kennedy likes the addition of Baker and has made it a point to try to soak up as much information from his new coach as possible.
As if Baker doesn’t provide enough information, Kennedy has veterans such as Glover and Jason Fisk to turn to with questions about his new position.
“I am happy with the changes we have made with the coaching staff,” Kennedy said. “Brian Baker was a great addition for us. I think everywhere he’s coached he has always had a Pro Bowl defensive lineman, even at my position with Kevin Williams in Minnesota. I am just looking to learn and pick La’Roi’s brain, pick Jason’s brain and continue to learn everything I can from Baker. Hopefully I will turn out to be one of those Pro Bowl guys.”
Kennedy played in 15 games with nine starts in 2005, racking up 53 tackles and four sacks. He played part of the season with a sports hernia and missed the last game against Dallas because of it.
Chances are, he won’t meet those numbers as far as tackles or sacks go this year, but the proof of his performance won’t be in those numbers, but the numbers of the likes of Witherspoon and Pisa Tinoisamoa.
Even though Kennedy probably won’t be piling up sacks or tackles, he is happy with the way he’s being used and is happy to be a piece of the puzzle for something new defensively.
“I enjoy it,” Kennedy said. “I think Haslett is doing a great job of using my strengths. I think the previous schemes, I wasn’t really using the stuff that I have with me being a big guy, but I’m able to run around plus I also have a lot of physical strength where I am able to hold guys up. It just allows me to show that I can move around and still make plays out there.”
-08-24-2006 #2jkramsfan Guest
Re: Kennedy Enjoying Position Change
i am glad hes enjoying it but he needs to come up big this season,if we are going anywhere this year we have to stop the run and he is going to be a large part of that.
Re: Kennedy Enjoying Position Change
Kennedy & Witherspoon the new Tony Siragusa and Ray Lewis ??
Wouldn't that be sweet ?