McGarigle shines in the nick of time
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Saturday, Sep. 01 2007
When you're a seventh-round draft pick who spent your rookie year on the
practice squad, there's no such thing as job security. With that in mind, the
last thing you want to do is miss three exhibition games because of injury.
But that was the predicament facing linebacker Tim McGarigle. A hamstring
injury suffered on the last play of the first practice day of training camp put
McGarigle's 2007 season, and perhaps his career, in jeopardy.
While McGarigle (pronounced Mc-Gargle) was healing, rookie free agent Quinton
Culberson had some impressive moments on the practice field and in earlier
preseason games. Straight-shooting defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said it
was the "bottom of the ninth inning" for McGarigle entering Thursday's
preseason finale against Kansas City.
In other words, McGarigle was running out of time to show the Rams' coaching
staff that he deserved a spot on the final 53-man roster. It may have been the
bottom of the ninth as Haslett suggested, but McGarigle belted the gridiron
equivalent of a bases-loaded double with his play in the Rams' 10-3 victory
over the Chiefs.
Not only did McGarigle save what looked like a touchdown with a second-quarter
interception at the Rams' 1-yard line, he also shared the team high in tackles
"He was very, very disappointed to miss basically the entire training camp with
that hamstring," coach Scott Linehan said. "But he was patient. ... He knew he
was going to have a shot (Thursday) to solidify himself, and it's fair to say
he did the best with the opportunity."
Linehan said the Rams were tempted to play McGarigle last week in Oakland but
decided to rest the hamstring one more week. It looked like the right decision
based on McGarigle's play against Kansas City.
"He tackled well," Haslett said. "Knocked people back. He was on top of his
game. I thought he was outstanding. (Kansas City) had their first group in the
first couple drives, and he made some nice plays."
Haslett said McGarigle looks smoother and more fluid on the field than he did a
year ago. Part of that is a result of being more comfortable in the system. But
Haslett also said McGarigle had worked on his flexibility with the Rams'
strength and conditioning coaches in the offseason and is less stiff physically
than he was as a rookie.
Against the Chiefs, McGarigle showed good range and instincts with a number of
open-field tackles. His interception was the biggest defensive play of the
"That's what good football players do," Linehan said.
McGarigle always has been a sure tackler and a productive defender. He ended
his college career at Northwestern as the NCAA Division I-A record holder in
At 6-0, 240 pounds, McGarigle isn't the biggest linebacker around, particularly
since he plays middle linebacker. But he has shown himself to be a tenacious
performer and has what Linehan calls sneaky speed. Not that he could display
those qualities from the trainers' room getting treatment for the hamstring.
"It's been a frustrating month," McGarigle said minutes after the Governor's
Cup game. "It was good to get out there and just play a game, and play well."
Thursday's interception made that frustration disappear. On third and goal from
the Rams 4, McGarigle saw Kansas City quarterback Jeff Terrell scramble to his
left and then pull up to make a throw. McGarigle slid over to the sideline to
make the interception of a pass intended for running back Kolby Smith with 6½
minutes left in the first half.
"It feels good to get out there and play like I know I can play," McGarigle
With that in mind, McGarigle could sleep better Thursday knowing final cuts
"Sure," he said. "This is our livelihood. Everyone in here. And when you do go
out there and have a good game, you're going to sleep a lot better."
The Rams cut 11 players Friday, but McGarigle isn't out of the woods yet. Eight
linebackers remain on the roster, and the Rams almost certainly will keep only
seven. But it looks as if McGarigle has moved ahead of Culberson, whose play
leveled off as the preseason progressed. McGarigle — and Culberson — will know
for sure today, when the final roster cuts are made.
Re: McGarigle shines in the nick of time
McGarigle should be uneasy still. Haslett said he hit a bases loaded "double". Not a GrandSlam! Lots of room for improvement?
Re: McGarigle shines in the nick of time
It was a great game by McGarigle, the interception was very athletic - fast reactions. He looked like a sure tackler to me as well. It's definitely a tough decision which LB's to keep on the roster, perhaps both Culberson and McGarigle could end up on our roster if we decide to only keep 3 RB's and not 4, or maybe only 3 TE's again as opposed to 4 - and use the extra spot on a LB. Linebacker would at least be one of the positions I would be looking at carrying an extra player at, we seem to have some pretty good young players there, and you have to be afraid that you may cut a future starting LB.