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    Local Hall (Ram) articles

    Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    With speculation running rampant that the Rams would use their first-round pick to find a star returner in Ohio State’s Ted Ginn, the team decided Wednesday to use their fifth-round pick to fill that void.

    The Rams dealt a fifth-round choice to Kansas City for returner/receiver Dante Hall on Wednesday. The trade doesn’t necessarily ensure the Rams are no longer interested in Ginn, but it probably means the chances are far slimmer.

    Coach Scott Linehan said the trade wouldn't completely eliminate Ginn from the conversation, but it probably signals a shift toward a defensive mindset in the first round.

    “It’s going to affect it some," Linehan said. "Certainly it doesn’t eliminate players that play a position well. The obvious ones are the Ginns of the world and those kind of guys, they’re pretty accomplished players at another position, but there are issues around whether or not you actually have a chance to get those players and whether you’d be able to go that direction anyway.”

    For most of his time with the Chiefs, Hall was widely considered the best returner in the game with video-game like moves and ridiculous one-man shows on a number of his returns.

    In Kansas City, Hall returned 11 kicks or punts for touchdowns and earned the nickname “X Factor” for his ability to change games from a position on special teams.

    With one more kick return for a touchdown, the 28-year old Hall will tie Eric Metcalf for second all-time in the NFL. Brian Mitchell holds the NFL record with 13 kick-return touchdowns. Mitchell played 14 seasons and Metcalf 13 seasons. The 2007 season will be Hall’s eighth.

    In 2006, Hall returned 53 kickoffs for a 22.8-yard average and 27 punts for an 8.9-yard average and one touchdown in 2006. He also caught 26 passes for two touchdowns.

    Hall’s productivity has fallen off in recent seasons as he gets older, but he is still one of the most reliable return men in league history. For his career, he boasts averages of 24 yards on 360 kickoffs and a 10-yard average for 188 punt returns in seven seasons with the Chiefs.

    Linehan suggests that Hall's rapidly increasing workload as a receiver might have had the biggest correlation to his dropoff in return productivity. With Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Drew Bennett in the fold, Hall won't be asked to do much in that regard.

    "It kind of makes you feel like the guy’s 100 years old," Linehan said. "He’s 28. It’s like a lot of these guys, if he hasn’t been the best in the league the last couple years, he’s still been one of the best, and his numbers show that. I think there’s a lot of things that factor in that, in our opinion. He’s been playing quite a bit of a bigger role for them as a receiver. Maybe that affects it, I don’t know. He’s not going to have to be in that role for us, obviously, with our depth at wide receiver. So having him be able to concentrate solely on his specialty, his art, will enhance his ability to get back to where he was. And really, where he was last year and the year before isn’t too bad if you really look deep into the numbers.”

    Hall has two punt return touchdowns of more than 90 yards in his career and three kickoff returns of more than 97 yards. He has a game high of 296 yards in combined yardage.

    The best season of Hall’s career came in 2003 when he returned two kicks and two punts for touchdowns and averaged 16.3 yards per punt return and 25.9 yards per kick return.

    According to Linehan, this trade came together rather quickly. Earlier in the week, when discussing the possibility of trading for a defensive tackle, Linehan intimated that plenty of other teams had begun calling when informed of the Rams' interest in a player like Carolina's Kris Jenkins.

    Perhaps this deal comes on the heels of Linehan's making the interest in Ginn and a dynamic return man clear to the rest of the league.

    "The expectation is that he’s going to be great at what he’s great at, and that’s returning," Linehan said. "You don’t see any slide or anything like that on tape. I’ve got to be honest with you, I was surprised that he was available because you couldn’t find a downside for a second day pick – a fifth round pick – to acquiring this player.”

    The trade of the fifth-round pick takes the Rams out of the fifth-round. Earlier in the offseason, they dealt a fifth-rounder to Detroit for defensive end James Hall. As for the possibility of adding another player in a trade, Linehan said he didn't see anything imminent, but to never rule out anything. And the Rams are still in play should Carolina make a more concerted effort to deal Jenkins.

    In the meantime, Ginn won't be completely eliminated from the draft board, even though it's unlikely he will be the team's focus in round one now.

    “He stays on the draft board," Linehan said. "He’s going to be a number one or a number two receiver I think through development. And he’s still gotta go out and prove that he’s going to do what he’s going to do for a team as a rookie as a returner, which is the next phase. I believe he’s going to do that and start that way. But we value him still very highly as a guy that would be eventually a number one receiver.”


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    Re: Rams Acquire Dante Hall

    'Elusive' Hall snagged by Rams
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    04/25/2007

    Maybe, just maybe, the Rams finally have solved one of their longstanding problems.

    Wednesday’s trade for Kansas City’s Dante Hall brings one of the league’s top return men to St. Louis for a fifth-round draft pick. The Rams and Chiefs also swapped third-round picks, but it involves moving only two spots in the draft: Kansas City moves up to 82nd overall, while the Rams move down to 84th.

    “He’s arguably one of the best ever at the position,” coach Scott Linehan said. “And not just as a punt returner, or a kick returner. But both.”


    Hall’s 11 combined kick returns for touchdowns -- six on kickoffs and five on punts -- is the third-best total in NFL history. The two-time Pro Bowler ranks sixth in league history in career kickoff return yards (8,644).

    “Being elusive is probably his greatest asset, but he has better speed than you’d think,” Linehan said. “Once he breaks it, he’s gone. . . . He has a nice knack on kickoff returns in the way he sets up the returns, the blocking schemes.

    “And as a punt returner, he makes that unblocked player miss the first time. Every time you watch him on tape, it just looks like he’s about ready to break one, whether he does or not.”

    But Hall’s recent production hasn’t matched his reputation. After averaging 10 yards-plus on punt returns from 2002 through 2004, Hall averaged only 6.6 yards in ’05 and 8.9 yards last season. Hall’s 2006 kickoff return average of 22.8 yards per return was his lowest average since 2001.

    In comparison, Willie Ponder averaged 23.3 yards on kickoffs and Shaun McDonald averaged 7.5 yards on punts last season for the Rams.

    Some observers feel Hall isn’t running as aggressively on returns as he once did, particularly on punts. And to a degree, return men have a shorter shelf life than other positions. Linehan showed some rare sarcasm when it was intimated Wednesday that Hall’s career may be in decline.

    “It kind of makes you feel like that guy’s 100 years old,” Linehan said. “He’s 28. If he hasn’t been the best in the league the last couple years, he’s still been one of the best. And his numbers show that.”

    Linehan said the fact that Hall has been used more as a receiver in recent years probably has affected his productivity on returns. Over the past four seasons, Hall has caught 125 passes for the Chiefs. In St. Louis, he will have a lesser role as a pass catcher. He will be the No. 4 wide receiver at best -- barring injury.

    “So having him be able to concentrate solely on his specialty, his art, I think will enhance his ability to get back to where he was,” Linehan said. “And really where he was last year and the year before isn’t too bad if you really look deep into the numbers.”

    A change of scenery might be good for Hall as well. His working relationship with a new head coach (Herm Edwards) and a new special teams coach (Mike Priefer) last season in KC wasn’t nearly as good as under Dick Vermeil and Frank Gansz Jr.

    It won’t take much to top what the Rams have done in the return game in recent years. The team hasn’t finished higher than 23rd in either punt returns or kickoff returns over the past three seasons. Over that same stretch, the Rams haven’t averaged more than 7.8 yards per punt return or 21.4 yards on kickoff returns in any season.

    “Well, we want to make a dent in that,” Linehan said. “That’s no secret, we want to make an improvement. Just like we’re trying to do with our defense.”

    As always, the trade is contingent on Hall passing a physical. (He’s scheduled to be in St. Louis on Thursday.) The Rams inherit the final two years of Hall’s contract: $1.5 million in ’07 and $1.928 million in ’08.

    The trade almost certainly takes the Rams out of the running for Ohio State’s Ted Ginn Jr. in the draft.

    Also announced Wednesday: Free-agent defensive end Brandon Green, who spent the past two seasons with the Rams, has signed with Seattle.

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    Re: Rams Acquire Dante Hall

    No more special teams excuses with Hall returning for Rams
    By Jeff Gordon

    04/25/2007


    Ram Nation no longer has to fret about the team selecting Ohio State receiver Ted Ginn Jr. with the 13th overall pick in this weekend’s NFL Draft.

    Scott Linehan fixed his Return Game Crisis with an outstanding trade – landing Chiefs game breaker Dante Hall for a fifth-round draft pick. The Rams also swapped third-round picks with Kansas City, moving back two spots.

    The Rams will turn their return duties over to Hall and move on to address other needs in the draft. This team can add immediate help for the defensive front seven in the first round, then shop for other needs (like an another power back to use behind Steven Jackson) in later rounds.

    Hall fits into the Rams lineup because Linehan doesn’t use many four-receiver sets. Linehan doesn’t need big offensive production from Hall’s spot on the depth chart.

    If Dante still has his jets at the age of 28 – and we suspect he does – than he can become an occasional change-of-pace offensive player and a serious kick return threat.

    Unlike Willie Ponder, the part-time Rams kickoff return man last season, Hall is an excellent punt returner too. He can do more than run deep routes, too; Hall figures to keep defenses honest with periodic end-around runs.

    Like newcomers Randy McMichael at tight end and Drew Bennett at receiver, Hall is a proven commodity. He brings additional maturity to an offense seeking to score more touchdowns and settle for fewer field goals next season.

    The Rams can’t expect Hall to terrify the NFL as he did from 2002-2004. What he did during that span was supernatural.

    Hall was a human highlight reel, breaking one impossible return after another. He banged around coverage teams like a pinball. He brought Chiefs fans to their feet again and again and again.

    But the Rams CAN expect him to advance kickoffs past its 20-year line and force teams to punt carefully against them. Hall ran one punt back for a touchdown last season and caught two TD passes as well.

    Former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil loved Hall and made him one of his marquee players. Hall had less success under current coach Herm Edwards and asked out after last season.

    Hall is certainly worth a shot, especially at this modest price. How many fifth-round picks become impact players?

    It won’t be difficult for Hall to improve on what we’ve seen from the Rams the past few seasons; their rotating cast of “return specialists” failed miserably.

    Rather than spend a high pick on Ginn or a mid-round pick on another potential return specialist, the Rams improved themselves with a veteran.

    Now new special teams coach Al Roberts must set up return schemes to exploit his skill and find special team players capable of blocking for him.

    In recent years, the Rams return game has been hapless across the board. Roberts, who had been out of the NFL since 2002, still has a big challenge on his hands.

    The addition of Hall eliminates all excuses. The Rams have a proven return specialist now. Now the team must find willing blockers (and tacklers for the coverage teams) and coach them up.

    Now they must actually execute on special teams, tilting the field the other way for a change. Hall’s mere presence ought to inspire better performance from the entire return team.

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    Re: Local Hall (Ram) articles

    the Rams haven’t averaged more than 7.8 yards per punt return or 21.4 yards on kickoff returns in any season.

    “Well, we want to make a dent in that,” Linehan said. “That’s no secret, we want to make an improvement. Just like we’re trying to do with our defense.”

    Linehan is on a mission! The D is coming this weekend!

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    Re: Local Hall (Ram) articles

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    Perhaps this deal comes on the heels of Linehan's making the interest in Ginn and a dynamic return man clear to the rest of the league.
    I believe that is why Linehan showed interest in Ginn is to get KC and others to come asking them what draft picks they would give for their return man. Instead of Linehan making someone elses return man a priority and going to them he made Ginn the priority and people came to him.

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    Re: Local Hall (Ram) articles

    Even at less than his peak, Hall can bring a lot to Rams
    By Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Thursday, Apr. 26 2007

    My friends in Kansas City tell me Rams fans shouldn't get too excited about the
    trade that shipped return specialist Dante Hall across the state from the
    Chiefs to the Rams.

    Please.

    This is easy to say for fans who haven't watched Arlen Harris or J.R. Reed haul
    kickoffs back with the speed of a slug leaving a slime trail on a sidewalk.
    Dismissing Hall is understandable if you haven't had to watch Shaun McDonald
    take the Highway 40 approach to punt returns: He only goes east or west.

    OK, I know Hall has lost some of his quickness since going off in 2003 and
    returning two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns. He's fumbled more than he
    should have, and he no longer poses extreme danger to the 11 tacklers assigned
    to chase a fly. Last season he wasn't even a middle-of-the-pack guy for the
    Chiefs, ranking 23rd in the NFL in kickoff-return average, and 18th in
    punt-return average.

    Fine. But I know this: Dante Hall will look a whole lot better and zippier than
    anyone else the Rams have used on the express lane of the special teams since
    the peak of Tony Horne and Az Hakim in 1999. And the Rams got Hall for a
    fifth-round draft pick and a two-spot switch in the third-round draft order.
    Hall still is fast, and more than anything else he probably needs to be
    re-energized.

    None other than Dick Vermeil raves about this deal from the Rams' perspective.

    "A great trade for the Rams," said Vermeil, who coached the 1999 Rams to the
    Super Bowl championship before taking over in KC, where he launched Hall as the
    NFL's preeminent return man. "He's electrifying. The best returner I've ever
    been around. Better than Tony Horne or Az Hakim. He will make some big plays
    for you. He will shorten the field for the Rams. He'll be fast on that
    (artificial) surface at the St. Louis dome."

    OK, if Hall still is a game-breaker, why did the Chiefs give him up for such a
    cheap price? Well, the coaching change from Vermeil to Herman Edwards after the
    2005 season could have been a factor. Hall and Vermeil were close.

    "I think he was a little down in Kansas City last season," Vermeil said. "It
    happens. He was kind of hoping for a change, and the Chiefs want to get
    younger, and they wanted to pick up an extra draft pick. This move will
    rejuvenate him. The Rams don't have to worry about him being a problem. He's
    one of the great kids I've coached. One of my all-time favorites."

    Securing Hall all but eliminates the Rams' temptation to grab Ohio State wide
    receiver-returner Ted Ginn Jr. with the 13th overall selection Saturday. Now
    they'll focus on finding a strong boy for their defensive line, or possibly a
    cornerback. It could be Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson, or Nebraska
    defensive lineman Adam Carriker, or Pitt cornerback Darrelle Revis. It depends
    on what's left at No. 13. But the organization will zero in on a defensive
    player.

    I don't think the Rams have done enough this offseason to substantially upgrade
    their defense for 2007. Maybe they'll get lucky with their first-round pick,
    the way the Chargers did in finding Shawne Merriman with the 12th selection in
    2005.

    But for now the Rams are patching. Adding Hall could enhance their field
    position, which helps the defense. And he gives the Rams another weapon to
    utilize in the scoreboard race. And that's important, because we could be in
    for a flashback to the 2000 season.

    That year, the Rams went 10-6, scoring 540 points and allowing 471 — the most
    points given up by an NFL playoff team. The average score of a Rams game that
    season was 34-29. The Rams won eight games in which they allowed 24 points or
    more. They triumphed by scores of 41-36, 37-34, 45-29 and 40-29. The Rams
    scored 34 points in one game, and 35 in another and lost both.

    We're probably in for more of this craziness in 2007, and in this fun-house
    setting, Hall fits right in.

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    Re: Local Hall (Ram) articles

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    Even at less than his peak, Hall can bring a lot to Rams
    By Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Thursday, Apr. 26 2007

    My friends in Kansas City tell me Rams fans shouldn't get too excited about the
    trade that shipped return specialist Dante Hall across the state from the
    Chiefs to the Rams.

    Please.


    None other than Dick Vermeil raves about this deal from the Rams' perspective.

    "A great trade for the Rams," said Vermeil, who coached the 1999 Rams to the
    Super Bowl championship before taking over in KC, where he launched Hall as the
    NFL's preeminent return man. "He's electrifying. The best returner I've ever
    been around. Better than Tony Horne or Az Hakim. He will make some big plays
    for you. He will shorten the field for the Rams. He'll be fast on that
    (artificial) surface at the St. Louis dome."

    OK, if Hall still is a game-breaker, why did the Chiefs give him up for such a
    cheap price? Well, the coaching change from Vermeil to Herman Edwards after the
    2005 season could have been a factor. Hall and Vermeil were close.

    "I think he was a little down in Kansas City last season," Vermeil said. "It
    happens. He was kind of hoping for a change, and the Chiefs want to get
    younger, and they wanted to pick up an extra draft pick. This move will
    rejuvenate him. The Rams don't have to worry about him being a problem. He's
    one of the great kids I've coached. One of my all-time favorites."


    But for now the Rams are patching. Adding Hall could enhance their field
    position, which helps the defense. And he gives the Rams another weapon to
    utilize in the scoreboard race. And that's important, because we could be in
    for a flashback to the 2000 season.
    I am very excited about Dante Hall. According to DV he's a good character guy who needed a change. I love the word "rejuvenate" and DH playing in the DOME. I also like to the reference to improved field position thus aiding our defense.

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