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    Korte Blog 11-15-07

    November 15, 2007
    Rookie running backs are finding their niche

    The Rams feel like rookie running backs Antonio Pittman and Brian Leonard can fill important roles in the team’s offense even with Steven Jackson fully healthy.
    Jackson obviously will be the main man with the bulk of the carries. Pittman will serve as the No. 2 back and spell Jackson occasionally during games. Leonard will be the primary fullback and occasional third-down back.
    Pittman’s rise to No. 2 back after being claimed off waivers from the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 2 is a surprise.
    Pittman fits the mold of an every-down runner better than Leonard, whose strength is his versatility.
    “The idea was, at some point, he was going to be at that spot,’’ Rams coach Scott Linehan said of the team’s plan for Pittman when they claimed him off waivers. “We are now in a position where we can use Brian in primarily the fullback spot, which is why we drafted and brought him here. Pittman had enough time in our offense at this point that we felt he would be ready to be the No. 2 guy at the tailback spot.’’
    Pittman had seven carries for 53 yards, including a 43-yard scamper last Sunday against the Saints, which opted to keep undrafted rookie Pierre Thomas over him.
    “I just real like it when you have an incentive game for a guy like him who is going against a team that had decided that a free agent was better than him,’’ Linehan said of Pittman, who was a fourth-round pick out of Ohio State. “That tends to put a little bit of a burr in a guy’s saddle somewhat. I wanted to give him a chance, and he took advantage of it.’’
    Pittman downplayed the grudge factor in his performance against the Saints.
    “I don’t care anything about that,’’ Pittman said when asked if he wanted to show the Saints that they made a mistake. “It was all about going out there and getting a victory and just playing ball. I wouldn’t really say it was a mistake. How can it be a mistake? They gave me my first shot in the NFL.’’
    With a defender closing in on him, Pittman tried to dive into the end zone on his long run against the Saints. The official ruled that he stepped out of bounds on the New Orleans 1.
    “The dude had a good angle, but I tackled myself basically by stepping out,’’ Pittman said.
    Linehan said Pittman had showed dramatic improvement in practice during the two weeks leading up to his increased role last Sunday against the Saints.
    “I feel comfortable with it,’’ Pittman said of the Rams’ offense. “It was fun to go out there and just play ball not really worrying about anything.’’
    Leonard said he wasn’t upset about playing fullback after being the team’s feature back in the four games that Jackson missed due to a groin injury. He has a 100-yard game under his belt with 108 yards against Arizona.
    “Whatever they want to do, I’ll do,’’ Leonard said. “I told them that when I came here. They wanted to know, ‘Do you want to be a running back or fullback?’ I said, ‘I’ll do both.’ Deep down, I just want to play and win.
    “I think this is one of roles that suits me the best. This is what I played in college my senior year — third-down back and fullback.’’
    Leonard estimated that he had 10 plays where he served the lead blocker against the Saints.
    “He’s a competitive player,’’ Linehan said of Leonard’s blocking. “He’s not the 250-pound lead blocker that everybody thinks of as a fullback, but he gets the job done. He’s also a threat on having the ball in his hands one way or another whether it’s handing him the ball or throwing him the ball. That’s the vision I had when he came here, that he was going to be a guy that could do just about anything from fullback to tailback to third-down back to special teams player, just an all around asset to the team. That’s a much better role for him, not that he can’t be our tailback.”
    --C-G Brett Romberg was the lone Rams player who didn’t participate fully in practice on Thursday. Romberg worked on a limited basis for the second straight day due a sprained ankle.
    Actually, Romberg has two sprained ankles, but it’s his right one — a dreaded high ankle sprain — that is bothering him.
    Linehan said Romberg, if he is active this Sunday against the San Francisco *****, would be a backup due to the practice time that he has missed.
    -- RG Richie Incognito was walking around the Rams’ locker room with ease only 10 days after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove some fragments of cartilage dislodged when he sustained a partially dislocated knee cap.
    Incognito has been played on injured reserve. He said it would have been a 4-6 week rehab if he had tried to rush back to play, but now he’s looking at a slower pace more like two months.
    “Really all they did was clear out the loose bodies of cartilage,’’ Incognito said. “It’s looking pretty good.’’
    -- Dante Hall, who missed the last four games with a high ankle sprain, will be returning punts and kickoffs against the *****.
    “He was really starting to get in a rhythm when he got hurt,’’ Linehan said. “It was becoming apparent that he was getting a good feel for what we do. He had the touchdown against Dallas, and he had a couple of good returns against Arizona. That has been missed. Brandon (Williams) has done a nice job. He has earned the right to stay, but Dante obviously gives us a threat to score.’’
    Linehan said Williams will be the Rams’ backup returner. He’ll also get a chance to work on his receiving skills.
    -- Claude Wroten and James Hall were awarded a half sack each on a play that was initially ruled as an aborted sack

    Isaac Bruce practices despite hamstring problem

    WR Isaac Bruce’s chances of playing this Sunday against the San Francisco ***** looked a little better after he was able to fully participate in practice on Wednesday.
    Bruce aggravated the hamstring muscle that kept him out of two games earlier this season making a catch on a short pass with 3:22 left in the third quarter of the Rams’ 37-29 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
    After Bruce went to the ground, he sat there trying to stretch out his leg. He would miss the rest of the game.
    “Isaac doesn’t surprise me, he defies a lot of the odds,’’ Rams coach Scott Linehan said. “I think what happened to him was more of a scare. He felt that hamstring pull and get aggravated, and he was concerned if it was fatigued, he would do something worse to it.’’
    Bruce and Drew Bennett shared reps with the starting offense during the early portion of practice that the media is allowed to watch.
    “He’s not 100 percent, but he’s closer to being cleared to play or up for this game than I thought he would be,’’ Linehan said. “You’d have to ask him, but I think he feels all right.’’
    -- Return specialist Dante Hall handled a full work in practice on Wednesday. He’ll return kickoffs and punts for the Rams this Sunday after missing four games due to a high ankle sprain.
    -- Both S Todd Johnson and CB Eric Bassey were cleared by doctors to practice on Wednesday after passing tests that showed they’d recovered from blows to head sustained against the Saints.
    Johnson and Bassey are two of the Rams’ two special teams players. Johnson has a team-high 12 special teams tackles, while Bassey has five special teams tackles in the four games he’s played since being added to the roster on Oct. 12.
    -- RG Richie Incognito has been placed on injured reserve. Linehan said DE Eric Moore, known for his pass-rush ability, will be promoted from the practice squad to fill Incognito’s spot on the 53-man roster.
    Linehan said the decision to place Incognito on IR was based on the fact that he would be healthy for only the final two games of the season under the best-case scenario.
    Incognito underwent surgert for a partially dislocated knee cap last week.
    -- OT Mark LeVoir has been signed off the Chicago Bears’ practice squad. LeVoir fills the roster spot vacated by tight end Aaron Walker, who was placed on injured reserve after undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in his shoulder.
    Linehan said the 6-foot-7, 307-pound LeVoir carried the highest grade from Rams scouts of any offensive linemen on all the 31 other practice squads around the NFL.
    LeVoir started 35 consecutive games over his final three seasons at Notre Dame. He signed as an undrafted free agent by the Bears in 2006.
    -- The Rams probably will continuing alternating Brandon Gorin and Rob Petitti at right tackle.
    “It worked for one game, one week,’’ Linehan said. “We just have to keep trying to find ways to sette in with what we think is the best way to win. I don’t know if want to call it right tackle by commitee, but those two guys have different things they do well. It’s not a bad changeup as long as they are able to play at the level they were able to play for at least one game.’’
    Gorin is more of an athletic tackle, while Petitti is more of a mauler.

  2. #2
    ramsfan81 Guest

    Re: Korte Blog 11-15-07

    Thats good news for the people who wanted Antonio Pittman before the draft lets see what he can do

  3. #3
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Korte Blog 11-15-07

    Having Dante' Hall back is big. I'm expecting alot of punting by the Whiners on Sunday.
    Hopefully he can break one.

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