Lenon, Grant Get a Chance
Friday, October 23, 2009


By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

With the trade deadline deal of Will Witherspoon to Philadelphia, the Rams will have a new look this week at linebacker, something that isn’t terribly new for the team in 2009.

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said earlier this week that the departure of Witherspoon means the Rams will shift Paris Lenon, the starter on the strong side over to Witherspoon’s vacated spot on the weak side and Larry Grant will make his first start on the strong side.

While the Rams will miss Witherspoon on and off the field, Spagnuolo is intrigued to see what the likes of Grant and Lenon can do in his place.

“Will played a lot of games in the NFL so there is some experience there that we lose although Paris has played a lot of football too,” Spagnuolo said. “Will is a terrific person. I wish him well; great character guy so we will miss all of that but we feel like guys have got to step up. We’ve got character guys in the locker room and the team is not one person. We’ll try to pick up where Will left off and move forward.”

Lenon’s move over to the weakside will take some adjusting but it won’t exactly be a dramatic change. He has been around the league long enough to make 65 career starts and that experience should serve him well.

In fact, the most recent time Lenon played against the Colts, he had one of his best days in the league as he posted 17 tackles for Detroit. This season, Lenon has 11 tackles.

The experience factor will play big for Lenon against Indianapolis. After starting the past three games on the strong side with David Vobora out because of a four-game suspension, Lenon will slide over to the opposite side.

In his eight-year career, Lenon has made starts at all three linebacker positions and is quite familiar with many of them. Still, Lenon says he spent the week getting re-acclimated to life on the weak side.

“I don’t necessarily say it will be a difficult transition,” Lenon said. “It will definitely have its complications as far as learning and getting everything down. I haven’t been here very long and I have a pretty good handle on playing the strong side. Now I have to make that transition. I will definitely be studying a lot.”

Meanwhile, Grant will make his first career start at any of the linebacker positions. Grant has played plenty of strong side in his time with the Rams and spent most of the preseason and training camp alternating playing time with Vobora at that spot.

Working in here and there at linebacker, Grant has posted a pair of tackles and a sack for the Rams. But Sunday will be his first real opportunity to get extended playing time and show what he can do.

And if Grant, like Lenon, is asked to help at another of the linebacker spots, he’s more than willing and capable.

“I’m just going to stay in and continue to work in the defense and do the best I can,” Grant said. “They have got me at the SAM. I am very comfortable over there. I study the game. I studied it with Spoon and Chris Draft when they were here, everybody we all just work on knowing it and everybody having to know everything. I have the knowledge to know all the position and I am willing to play any of them.

MANNING IMPRESSION: Perhaps no quarterback in the league is more frustrating in trying to defend than Indianapolis star Peyton Manning.

And Manning can frustrate a defense on more than one level. Aside from ringing up big statistics and posting large amounts of points, Manning is meticulous in his pre-snap reads and has created quite a reputation for his gesticulations and movements before he takes the snap.

Think Nomar Garciaparra type idiosyncrasies, only on a football field. This week, the task of giving the Rams defense the best possible Manning simulation fell to backup quarterback Kyle Boller.

Boller took to the task with great enthusiasm, running all over the place, barking out signals and doing everything short of showing up as a pitchman in countless commercials in his best Manning impersonation.

“Other than some of the names he is yelling out, ice cream and Boller-Boller, all those type of things, he has actually done a great job for us,” defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. “He has really given us a great look this week.

“I am going to call him Baskin-Robbins he’s got so many flavors going on out there.”

For his part, Boller says he is essentially playing a football version of mad libs, just thinking of anything that comes to mind and yelling it out.

“Anything from names of cities to ice creams to anything,” Boller said. “Any noun. I think about it a little bit but anything that’s a noun usually works pretty well.”

FIRST CHANCES: Lost amid the news about the trade of Witherspoon this week was the fact that the Rams made a pair of other additions to their active roster.

The Rams are giving another pair of youngsters a shot to make a first impression on the 53-man roster after they elevated linebacker K.C. Asiodu from the practice squad and brought tackle Phil Trautwein over from Cleveland’s practice squad.

Asiodu spent the preseason with the Rams and has been working on the practice squad before getting moved up. He replaced Dominic Douglas on the roster and will be active against the Colts.

“We are kind of trying to give him a shot at special teams,” Spagnuolo said. “We like what Doug had done for us but K.C. had done some things in practice that led us to believe that maybe he deserved a shot at what he could do.”

Trautwein also spent the preseason with the Rams but was released in the final round of cuts. The Rams had hoped to bring him back to their practice squad but Trautwein was claimed by Cleveland.

The Browns recently released Trautwein and re-signed him to their practice squad but the Rams plucked him away on Tuesday.

“If you go back, we had to release him,” Spagnuolo said. “You can only keep 53 guys, wanted to get him on the practice squad, but Cleveland grabbed him. We saw an opportunity there to grab him. We really liked some things that he did. We like having him around here, working with him again and I think he is happy to be here too.”

Trautwein isn’t likely to be active this week but if he is would be available as a fourth tackle.

INJURY REPORT: The Rams had three players limited in Friday’s final practice of the week in the form of defensive end James Hall, receiver Ruvell Martin and cornerback Justin King.

Hall is probably the most questionable of the three according to Spagnuolo.

“We’ll be careful,” Spagnuolo said. “You guys know James well enough. He wants to go and we’d love to have him out there but we want to make sure it’s right.”

Safety James Butler, guard Richie Incognito and receiver Donnie Avery all completed the practice and will be good to go against the Colts.

RAM BITS: No decision has been made yet on whether newly-acquired receiver Brandon Gibson will be active this weekend. It could depend on the status of Martin but Spagnuolo said he would discuss it with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur in the next 24 hours…Jason Smith continued to get repetitions with the first team on both sides and it appears he will get some chances against the Colts, even at left tackle.