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Martin, Lenon seem like solid additions
By Andy Dapron
The Rams added two new players Tuesday, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ruvell Martin and former Detroit Lions linebacker Paris Lenon.
Iím not going to pretend like I know a whole lot about about either guy, but from what I can gather, both of them seem like they could be good adds.
I agree with the general sentiment around STLtoday.com that, of the two newest Rams, Martin seems to be the most intriguing. Heís 6-4, 220 lbs., so he brings an element of size the Rams have lacked in their receiving corps forÖ well, as long as I can remember (and please donít say Drew Bennett. He doesnít count. You have to actually play in a few games to be counted). And itís not as if heís just some giant who canít play football. Martin carved out 52 catches, 749 yards, and six touchdowns over the past three seasons in Green Bay while fighting for playing time among a talented group of Packers wide receivers. In a start at the end of 2006 against Chicago, he had seven catches and 118 yards.
When Martin gets comfortable in the Ramsí offensive scheme, he could be a big target for Marc Bulger and the Rams passing attack in the red zone. Were he to pan out as a viable threat in that area of the field, that skill alone would make him worth signing, given the Ramsí red zone struggles over the last few years.
Also, Jim Thomas notes that, ďMartin isnít a speedster but has developed strength over the years. He has been effective catching passes over the middle and is considered a good perimeter run blocker.Ē These attributes would seem to make Martin an ideal fit for the kind of smashmouth, run-first, short- and intermediate-passing attack the Rams are trying to implement. The fact that he ďisnít a speedsterĒ appears to have contributed to his release by Green Bay, but that doesnít bother me at all. Donnie Avery is here to stretch the field, each of the other four receivers currently on the Ramsí roster brings an element of speed. The Rams needed some beef in the group. Martin can be that guy.
I think itíd be shortchanging Martin not to also mention that he seems to be a very high character individual. All indications are that the Packers struggled hard with the decision to cut him loose, and that he was just the odd man out on a receiver depth chart with few openings. Packers fans have made comments on this site that, ďhe was best friends with [Green Bay quarterback] Aaron Rodgers,Ē and, ďÖ it was tough to see him go.Ē Thatís pretty high praise for someone projecting as a teamís fourth or fifth receiver. If these types of comments turn out to have merit, Martin should be a great influence on the team chemistry, if nothing else.
One more thing regarding the wide receiver position: Iím glad the Rams opted for Martin over David Tyree. Tyree had name recognition because of his one big catch in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. But, other than that, whatís he done, really? His real value to this team would have been as a special teamer. While special teams certainly are important (just ask anyone who has watched the Ramsí not-so-special teams over the last nine years), given the Rams lack of a proven commodity at wideout (and lack of wideouts period), they really needed someone who could contribute at that position, a la Martin.
As for Lenon, itís not hard to understand why we all have trouble getting excited about a castoff from the winless Lions squad of a year ago. However, Lenon was starting in Detroit. Heíll be a depth guy here (assuming David Vobora can hold up his end of the bargain). In addition, Lenon did post some good numbers for the Lions (161 tackles in 2007, 146 in Ď08).
Keep in mind that rebuilding teams do sometimes part with solid players in an effort to start fresh. Weíve seen that this year in St. Louis with the departure of players like Pisa Tinisamoa and Dane Looker. Lenonís stint with the laughingstock Lions may not impress anyone, but in 2005, he started 12 games for a Green Bay Packersí defense that ranked seventh overall.
What Iím not sure about is how much of an upgrade Lenon is over the man whose roster spot he essentially takes, the departed Chris Draft. Both Draft and Lenon have starting experience. Lenon is a little taller than Draft (6-2 to 5-11), and a little younger, too (31 years old to Draftís 33). My guess is heíll also come a bit cheaper.
Overall, it looks like the Rams have found two players who have a very real chance to contribute to the teamís success this year.
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