By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Feb. 24 2008
INDIANAPOLIS • After 14 NFL seasons, you might say center Andy McCollum is
McCollum is scheduled for unrestricted free agency this week. The Rams believe
McCollum, 37, can still pass block but don’t have him on speed dial.
“I did talk to Andy,” Rams coach Scott Linehan said. “He’s going to stay in
shape in case we get in a position where we possibly could sign him if we need
Closer to training camp?
“Something like that,” Linehan said. “Andy’s a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy.
He’s realistic about it. I thought that was a good plan. You never know,
someone (else) might call.”
Although he began last season on the bench, McCollum ended up starting 10 games
because of injuries: seven at center and three at left guard. He has been with
the Rams since 1999.
Brett Romberg won the starting center job over McCollum coming out of training
camp but started only nine games last season because of ankle problems. Romberg
also is scheduled for unrestricted free agency, but the Rams have expressed
interest in re-signing him.
"There's mutual interest there," Romberg's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said
Saturday. "We're going to continue to talk. I met with Jay Zygmunt (Saturday)
about Brett, and we're going to continue to work on that."
At the moment, the only centers under contract in St. Louis are Nick Leckey and
Wilkins still iffy
Like McCollum, kicker Jeff Wilkins indicated at the end of last season that he
was considering retirement.
"One of the things we've got to see is how he feels," Linehan said. "He's got a
little bit of a (leg) issue that he's got to get squared away medically, to
make sure he's OK."
Linehan didn't specify the exact nature of the leg problem, but said he didn't
think it was anything serious and wasn't anything that would require surgery.
"I think when you start getting up there, you want to evaluate it," Linehan
said. "You say, 'Hey, are the years catching up with me?'"
Wilkins, 35, has been with the Rams since 1997, second in team tenure to wide
receiver Isaac Bruce.
"Jeff can still get it done," Linehan said. "He was three of four from outside
50 yards last year. He was like the rest of our team. … Here's one of the
greatest kickers ever and he has a down year. He misses kicks that he's never
In remarks to the media Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Linehan identified
offensive line and defensive end as the team's greatest needs.
Even factoring in a rash of injuries last season on the offensive line, Linehan
said, "I think that's an area we really need to address."
As for defensive end, the Rams had only 5 1/2 sacks from that position last
"Getting to the quarterback on those money downs is going to be critical,"
Linehan said. "Whether we do it through a free-agent acquisition, or get
Leonard (Little) healthy, or whatever we've got to do, we've got to find ways
to create that pass rush."
Linehan said the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants were a textbook example of
the kind of success a defense can have with a strong four-man rush.
Ram-blings: The Rams came away impressed with Jake Long's workout Saturday at
the Combine. One team official said the offensive tackle from Michigan looks
like the complete package at that position. … Re-signing running back Steven
Jackson to a long-term contract is a priority. But for now, the team is
concentrating on re-signing safety Oshiomogho "O.J." Atogwe before he becomes a
restricted free agent Friday.