Linehan rolls dice with just two QBs
By Bill Coats
09/04/2007 4:57 pm


Scott Linehan has said more than once that in his short time as an NFL head coach, he’s learned that rosters are constantly evolving. The 2007 version of the Rams’ final 53-man crew was settled over the weekend, and it’s an interesting lineup.

Most notable is the decision to go with two quarterbacks instead of the usual three. Linehan pointed out that the Rams aren’t the first team to take that route.

Nine teams did so last year, and so far 12 teams have just two QBs listed this year. “Either way you’re giving up something, so we’ll have to have a contingency plan for a third,” Linehan said. “We’ve got a couple of ex-quarterbacks (WRs Drew Bennett and Marques Hagans) on our roster. We’ll figure out what kind of plays we would have to run with those fellows.”

No. 3 quarterbacks often don’t get on the field during the regular season. Last year, the Rams’ Ryan Fitzpatrick played only in the season finale at Minnesota and didn’t throw a pass. But in 2005, injuries thrust Fitzpatrick into action, and he wound up starting three games.

Fitzpatrick was traded to Cincinnati on Saturday, and Linehan concedes that he’s taking a calculated risk with just two QBs. But he believes it’s worthwhile to get another player in uniform. “You can have either a third quarterback or have someone available to be a starter on a special teams on Sundays,” he said. “You really don’t have that option when you count a third quarterback.”

The Rams strayed from the norm in other areas, too. They kept nine running backs/fullbacks/tight ends; usually, that number is eight. They kept nine defensive linemen; that number often is eight, and has been as low as seven here. And they’re carrying just eight defensive backs; in the past, that number has been nine or even 10.

But as Linehan noted, rosters are constantly evolving. So, those numbers could change at almost any time.

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Before suffering a season-ending foot injury Thursday vs. the Chiefs, Todd Steussie was the backup to Orlando Pace at the all-important left tackle spot. When practice resumed Tuesday, Adam Goldberg was working there with the second unit, with Milford Brown at right tackle.

Should Pace go down, the Rams also could opt to move Alex Barron from right tackle to left. “That really is a natural position for Alex,” Linehan said. “If we were ever put in that position, then we’d have to consider that. Because of that we have to give him some plays over there now.”

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Notes & quotes:

>>On Tuesday, Linehan reinstituted his regular-season media policy for practice. Reporters are permitted to watch only the first 30 minutes. They are ushered off once team drills begin.

>>Asked how WR Torry Holt performed at practice, Linehan said. “He looked a hundred percent to me.” Holt had knee surgery in February and recently estimated his readiness as 70 to 80 percent.

>>CB Fakhir Brown, who is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, can’t practice. But he is permitted to work out at Rams Park and attend team meetings.

>>Obviously weary of being asked yet again about RB Steven Jackson’s brief appearances in the preseason games, Linehan responded to a query from a TV reporter this way: “He got about 250 carries in practice; I’m comfortable with that. The fact that he’s 100 percent and ready to go I think is great. I don’t know how many catches he had; he might have had 100 catches, too. So I think he’s ready to go.”

All for now…