By Bill Coats
Saturday, Aug. 02 2008

MEQUON, Wis. ó As a pure fullback, Dan Kreider is something of a relic in the
modern-day NFL. More and more, teams are looking for hybrids that can
lead-block, but also carry the ball, line up in various spots, run routes and
make catches.

Versatility isn't exactly Kreider's forte. But even after eight NFL seasons,
he's trying to expand his skills.

"Running routes isn't one of my great abilities, but I have a desire to work at
it. And I feel like I can catch the ball somewhat," said Kreider, signed by the
Rams as a free agent just before the start of training camp. "Whatever they
want me to do, I'll try to do it."

Kreider, 31, spent all previous eight seasons in Pittsburgh, plowing openings
for such ground-gobbling running backs as Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker. The
Steelers produced a 1,000-yard rusher five times in those eight years.

Kreider didn't get in on much of the fun: he totaled just 31 carries (for 144
yards) and caught 60 passes (for 471 yards). But he had a steady job, plus he
earned a Super Bowl ring in 2006 as a member of Pittsburgh's improbable
championship squad.

A torn ligament in his right knee in late November ended his '07 season; a
couple of months later, Kreider was out of a job. He was an unrestricted free
agent, and the Steelers weren't interested in re-signing him.

"They wanted to go more two tight ends and open it up a little bit more than
they had in the past," he said. "I guess that's just kind of the way the NFL
evolves. You've got a lot of good skill-position guys in the league, and a lot
of good quarterbacks. You want to tailor your offense to those types of
players, because they're explosive and make things happen.

"But you've still got to be able to run the ball."

And that's where Kreider, 5 feet 11 and 255 pounds, works into the Rams' plans.
The more room running back Steven Jackson can get, the better coordinator Al
Saunders' offense will function.

"Through the course of his career, Dan's shown that (lead-blocking) ability;
that's what he does," running backs coach Art Valero said. "And as limited the
amount of times they threw the ball to him, he's got exceptional hands."

Kreider is adapting to a new offense quickly, according to coach Scott Linehan.

"He's got a comfort level that I'm impressed with," Linehan said. "He played in
a different system in Pittsburgh his whole career. But he's a professional.
That guy is all business. Ö I think he can really help us."

Kreider was beginning to get repeated work with the first unit before
tendinitis in his knee kept him out of practice the last couple of days. Still,
the regular season is more than a month off, so Kreider figures to have plenty
of time to prove himself.

"In this business, it's all about if they have confidence in what you're
doing," he said. "My goal is to be able to learn as quickly as I can so that
they can feel confident putting me in when they need to."