McMichael eager to return to form
AP, Aug 6, 2009
8 hours, 5 minutes ago

ST. LOUIS (AP)—After missing most of last season with a broken leg, Randy McMichael(notes) is eager to show the St. Louis Rams he can once again be an elite tight end.

The Rams will hold their first scrimmage of the season Friday night and McMichael is looking forward to his first game-type action in 10 months. McMichael suffered a broken tibia and torn ligament in his right leg in a 31-14 loss to Buffalo on Sept. 28 and missed the rest of the season.

The Rams are expecting big things from McMichael, who caught 195 passes for the Dolphins from 2004 through 2006, but had just 39 for St. Louis in 2007and 11 before getting hurt last season.

“I feel good. The leg feels good,” he said Thursday at Rams Park. “This is probably the best I’ve felt in a camp this early. I’m not sore or anything. There’s always a lot of wear and tear on your body in training camp but I feel really good.”

Coach Steve Spagnuolo likes what he’s seen so far.

“He’s been great,” Spagnuolo said. “Randy’s a true pro. He’s been really good.”

McMichael was expected to be a big pass-catcher when he came to St. Louis. But when one offensive lineman after another went down with injuries in 2007, McMichael, out of necessity, had to focus more on blocking than route-running. The 39 catches was a career low.

He had high hopes in 2008 and was off to a solid start before the injury.

Now, with the West Coast offense being installed by new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, McMichael could see plenty of passes. Not that he’s counting on it.

“I’m just going to go back to being patient,” McMichael said. “Just play ball. If it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, I’ve still got other duties to do on this team other than catching balls.”

Spagnuolo said the scrimmage will be important. On the new-look Rams, who have many new faces since Spagnuolo took over in January, there are many positions up for grabs.

“When you get out on that kind of platform … guys got to step up, it’s like the spotlight is on them a little bit,” Spagnuolo said. “We’ll see how guys react to that.”

Quarterback Marc Bulger(notes) said the physical nature of Spagnuolo’s camp takes away some of the butterflies that normally accompany the first scrimmage.

“Usually when you have that scrimmage, guys get a little bit nervous because it’s the first time you go live,” Bulger said. “Everyone’s hyperventilating. But I think since we got all of that out of the way, I think we’ll be able to be a little more crisp and hopefully the coaches have a little bit better chance to evaluate everyone.”

NOTES: RB Samkon Gado(notes) was shaken after being hit Thursday. His helmet hit him in the eye but he returned to practice after being checked out. … FB Mike Karney(notes) (ankle) missed his third consecutive day of practice. Spagnuolo said Karney continues to be day to day. … Spagnuolo spoke to the team during the middle of practice to “get them refocused and they responded real well.” One of the things that upset Spagnuolo was too many false starts, a frequent problem by the Rams in recent seasons.