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  1. #1
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    Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    10 tackles per game average leads team
    BY STEVE KORTE
    News-Democrat
    ST. LOUIS - Will Witherspoon apparently has found a new home in the middle of the St. Louis Rams' defense.

    "You definitely have to enjoy it," Witherspoon said of playing middle linebacker. "On the outside position, you're kind of playing half the field, but in the middle, you have to get from sideline to sideline."

    And Witherspoon has been making plays from sideline to sideline this season. He leads the Rams (4-2) in tackles with 60, an average of 10 tackles per game.

    Witherspoon had 13 tackles, including 11 solos, in the Rams' 30-28 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

    Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Witherspoon had something to prove against the Seahawks and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who was voted to the Pro Bowl last season.

    "I think Will was up to the challenge," Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "He wanted to kind of show him that he's just as good, if not better, and I think he did that. There were two outstanding middle linebackers on the field (on Sunday)."

    Haslett said he's never coached a middle linebacker with Witherspoon's speed except in the Pro Bowl.

    "I had some good linebackers, but I didn't have anyone who could run like that," Haslett said. "I coached a couple of them in the Pro Bowl that could run like that -- Ray Lewis and those guys. Will has that type of talent. Will is going to get better and better, too. There are some things that Will can do to put himself in position to make more plays. Will is still kind of learning the defense. You're talking a yard here or a yard there, and he could make three or four more tackles."

    Witherspoon led the Carolina Panthers in tackles the past two seasons, but he played mostly at weak-side linebacker.

    The Rams had been searching for an aggressive, playmaking middle linebacker since London Fletcher-Baker left via free agency after the 2001 season. They signed Witherpoon to a six-year, $33 million contract in March, demonstrating a strong belief that he could move from weak-side linebacker to middle linebacker despite weighing only 235 pounds.

    "I think it does a great job utilizing my skills," Witherspoon said of middle linebacker. "My skills are worth nothing if I don't have a great group of guys to work around me. Pisa (Tinoisamoa) and (Brandon) Chillar, the defensive front, the defensive backs. All of us have to work together to really accomplish something."

    Witherspoon said he has enjoyed playing in the same linebacking corps with Tinoisamoa and Chillar.

    "Brandon Chillar, the way teams have been attacking us, he really hasn't been on the field the whole time," Witherspoon said. "He's not taking that role and saying 'I'm getting kind of shafted.' He's accepted what's happening.

    "That's what's impressive. You don't have a bunch of guys that are upset about where their position is, or what their status is on the field the whole time. He's still coming in and making big plays for us. Pisa is the same way. He's one of the guys on the field who's going to know what's going on. He's a great conversation guy out there. Talking all the time, moving guys around, and doing a lot of great things. It's just a good crew of guys to be around."

    Haslett sees his young linebacking corps -- Witherspoon is 26 years old, Tinoisamoa is 25 and Chillar will turn 24 on Saturday -- as the building blocks for his defense. That's why Tinoisamoa recently received a five-year contract extension.

    "I think it's a good thing for the organization because he's a heck of a football player," Haslett said of locking up Tinoisamoa for the long term. "He's what you want when you are building an organization. He's tough as nails. He's smart. He can do anything you want on the football field. He's very versatile. Guys like that you have to keep in the organization. You have Will Witherspoon, Pisa and Brandon Chillar, a pretty good group of linebackers. We're going to try to build a defense the next couple of years around those guys."


  2. #2
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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    Sounds like Haslett is thinking long term,as if he is going to stick around for a few years and not take the first HC offer that comes his way.

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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    WW is a fast feline. I love the way he leaps like a soccer goalie while defending against passes, one or two that he's tipped and caused to be INTed.

    Seems to be everywhere, like Pisa. Had a great stop on a Seahawk on a 3rd down play when he came in so fast and with a great angle and grabbed the RB by the collar to make a sure tackle, avoiding the 1st down conversion.

    He keeps playing like that and he'll visit Hawaii, for sure. :r

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    VegasRam's Avatar
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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    In Carolina, especially with Morgan going down, people are going to be moaning about Spoons loss the same way we did about Fletchers.

    What a pick-up.
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    He is unreal, we got a keeper for sure.
    Last edited by Rambos; -10-20-2006 at 08:41 PM.

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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    We have all seen the spoon make tackles week after week holding runners to a few yards, where we say to ourselves, my lord, if spooon didnt get him it would have been a 20 yard or more gain (which is what would have happened last year). I can not believe that the panthers let him go, he is going to be a mainstay on this defense for many years to come, he is truly a superstar.

    ramming speed to all

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  7. #7
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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    I agree.. with have a superstar in waiting and at 26 years old too........the best addition the Rams have made in years...


    steve:l
    Last edited by majorram; -10-20-2006 at 03:31 PM.
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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    Quote Originally Posted by VegasRam View Post
    In Carolina, especially with Morgan going down, people are going to be moaning about Spoons loss the same way we did about Fletchers.

    What a pick-up.
    They're allready moaning...this guy is a tackling machine

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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    A player to draft and sign other players around, truly a franchise kind of guy.

  10. #10
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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    Witherspoon ia a Pro Bowl lock. Watching him play is truely awe inspiring. Where would we be without him and who's this London Fletcher-Baker guy?

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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    I saw a little bit of Witherspoon last year as he was on my fantasy team (jk....had a Kornheiser moment).

    Joking aside, I didn't get the game last week but was listening on the radio. The announcers just kept calling his name all day. They also were saying how he was coming out of nowhere and like other posters have said, if he wouldn't have got the guy, it would've been a big gain (how about that for a run-on sentence). Anyway, you guys have one heck on a MLB, and he's only going to get better.

    Nice Jacket

  12. #12
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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    Spoon and Pisa are the best pair of linebackers in the league other than Ray Lewis and Bart Scott. I love watching them do everything on defense.

  13. #13
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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Witherspoon ia a Pro Bowl lock. Watching him play is truely awe inspiring. Where would we be without him and who's this London Fletcher-Baker guy?
    I missed Fletch until Witherspoon got here...now I agree, Fletcher who?

    And in case anyone was wondering as much as I was about his new last name, I looked it up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Fletcher : "It has been announced that London legally changed his name to London Fletcher-Baker to honor his father and grandfather. "

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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    Quote Originally Posted by RamFan_Til_I_Die View Post
    And in case anyone was wondering as much as I was about his new last name, I looked it up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Fletcher : "It has been announced that London legally changed his name to London Fletcher-Baker to honor his father and grandfather. "
    Maurice Jones-Drew might have started a trend.

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    Re: Linebacker Witherspoon: big plus in Rams' defense

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Maurice Jones-Drew might have started a trend.
    Yep.

    "Born Maurice Drew to Andrea and Dana Drew, Maurice was raised by his grandparents, Christina Jones and Maurice Jones. During his junior year at UCLA, Jones-Drew's grandfather died of a heart attack while watching him play against Rice University. To honor his late grandfather, Jones-Drew changed his name from Drew to its current form."

    And to prevent being totally fftopic: , I can't say enough how studly Witherspoon has been so far. Let's hope can can sustain this level of play throughout the season and into the playoffs.

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