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  1. #1
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    Minicamp: Left guards jockey for position

    Minicamp: Left guards jockey for position
    By Jim Thomas

    Rams offensive guard Richie Incognito (right) exchanges words with defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy after they got into a tussle.
    (CHRIS LEE /P-D)

    It has been more than a while since Richie Incognito played a football game. Fall of 2003 for Nebraska, to be exact.

    Off-the-field issues deep-sixed his 2004 college season, then a kneecap injury wiped out his rookie campaign with the Rams in 2005. But Incognito is closer than ever to getting back in the game.

    Not only is the kneecap healthy and Incognito back on the practice field, but also he finds himself working with the first unit at left guard this weekend during the Rams' full-squad minicamp.

    For now, Incognito is downplaying his insertion into the starting offensive line, and that's probably a good approach. A lot of things can happen between early June and early September.

    "I think coach (Scott Linehan) is giving everybody a fair shot," Incognito said. "I'm just trying to stay in the heat of the competition. Just trying to do my thing and stay near the top."

    In one of the more pleasant surprises of an otherwise turbulent and unfulfilling 2005 Rams season, rookie Claude Terrell emerged at left guard for most of the year. But judging from what's occurring at this minicamp, the position is as wide open as any on the Rams' depth chart.

    Following wrist surgery in January, conditioning work for Terrell was put on hold. His waistline expanded, and Linehan dropped hints earlier in the spring that Terrell had anything but a stranglehold on the job.

    Terrell doesn't sound worried.

    "It was my job (last season)," Terrell said. "And I don't feel like I've done anything to lose it. So when I'm back 100 percent and can be the player that I am, I expect to be in there with the '1s.' It's that simple."

    Judging from Linehan's comments on Saturday, Terrell should take nothing for granted.

    "It's going to be competitive," Linehan said. "Claude hasn't been able to go; he's gone some this camp. He's still got the wrist issue. Richie had been working real good there, and then he gets the hand thing."

    Linehan said Incognito suffered a cracked bone on the outside of his hand last month. "So he wasn't able to do anything for a few weeks," Linehan said. "So that sets him back a little bit, but he's back in there."

    In an earlier minicamp, the Rams also looked at veteran Todd Steussie at left guard, although Steussie has spent most of his career playing tackle.

    "We're just trying to find somebody who's going to step up and be consistent and be the man," Linehan said. "We've got plenty of time to iron that out. And it's hard for these offensive linemen to really show what they can do in 'no pads.'

    "You want them to be right, assignment-wise; take the right steps and all that. It's hard to see who's going to be able to play and stay healthy until we start actually hitting. I think the line thing will heat up pretty good here in a month and a half."

    Terrell injured his right wrist in Game 11 against Houston last November. He played out the season despite the injury, starting 10 of the final 11 games at left guard.

    Friday marked the first time he had taken part in live drills all offseason.

    "I'd say the wrist is about 85-90 percent," Terrell said. "I started 'punching' (Friday). It's a little sore right now. But it's expected."

    While working with the backups, Terrell says he has no problem seeing Incognito work with the starters this weekend.

    "Richie's my boy," Terrell said. "We're all out here competing, trying to make the Rams better as a whole. If that competition is going to make us better, and it'll make me better personally, I'm all for it."

    Terrell's weight approached 350 pounds at the start of the offseason conditioning program. Terrell intimated that some of the weight gain was a byproduct of the wrist surgery.

    "I think that played a part in it," Terrell said. "It's starting to come off now. ... When I did this (surgery), the doctor said, 'Don't do anything until the cast comes off.' So I was on the shelf for, like, eight weeks.

    "I'm starting to get my strength back. So it's only a matter of time. By the time training camp comes up, I feel like I'll be 100 percent. ... When training camp starts on July 27, I'm looking to be with the '1s.' "

    Incognito, of course, could have something to say about that. But is it realistic to think he could start in the NFL after not playing for more than 2 1/2 years?

    "I don't know," Incognito said. "I'm working hard. Learning the plays. Trying not to make too many mistakes. Trying to make no mistakes. We'll see when training camp comes around."

  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Minicamp: Left guards jockey for position

    Excellent read, thanks, 16.

    I look forward to Terrell being the strong, starting LG and Incognito a healthy back-up this year. Richie is my boy too. :-)

  3. #3
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    Re: Minicamp: Left guards jockey for position

    A little competition never hurt anyone. Personally, I'm pulling for Incognito but as Linehan pointed out, the starter will have to be consistent. May the best man win....


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