Minor Welcomes Major Role
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Since Aug. 3, 2003, Travis Minor's NFL career has been dedicated to a single goal: honoring his father, who was killed that day when a drunk driver plowed into his motorcycle in Baton Rouge, La.
"I owe him for everything that I am," Minor said. "He was the main reason why I'm able to play in the NFL. I was blessed to have a father figure in my life until then. All I can do is hope to be as good a father one day as he was to me."
Leslie Minor was just 45 when he died on the motorcycle that Travis had presented to him as a gift. The driver who hit him is serving a 15-year prison sentence.
Travis Minor is in his second season with the Rams, the eighth year of a career in which he's excelled at special teams and served as a reserve running back. He's had 302 carries and 67 receptions for a total of 1,792 yards. His scored his only touchdown in 2001, his rookie year with the Miami Dolphins.
"I definitely understand my role," said Minor, 29. "We have a great tailback here in Steven (Jackson), and I've been on other teams where we've had great running backs. It doesn't change your confidence in being able to make great plays."
Should Jackson's strained right thigh muscle keep him on the sideline Sunday at New England — he was listed as "questionable" Friday in the final injury report of the week — Minor's role could be greatly increased.
According to coach Jim Haslett, the running back duties would be divvied up in some manner among Minor, Antonio Pittman and newcomer Kenneth Darby. Pittman will suit up for the first time since breaking a bone in his lower leg Sept. 21 at Seattle; Darby was signed as a free agent Oct. 14.
Which means that Minor might be the most reliable option if Jackson can't go.
"He knows the protections. I don't have to worry about helping him out and telling him where to go," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "He's a good pass-blocker ... just a solid guy."
As 5 feet 10 and 203 pounds, Minor is "not as big as 'Jack,' doesn't have that physical presence," Bulger said. "But he can make the first guy miss, and if he can get to the second level, he can go all the way. He has break-away speed."
That was evident at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, where Minor won state championships in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. He did pretty well on the football field, too.
After piling up 2,649 rushing yards, 598 passing yards and 43 touchdowns his senior year, Minor was named the national offensive player of the year by USA Today.
He started 33 games at Florida State and remains the No. 3 rusher in Seminoles history, with 3,218 yards. Minor was a third-round draft pick (No. 85 overall) by the Dolphins in 2001, but he started just four games in six seasons with Miami. The Rams signed him to a free-agent deal in March 2007.
He had 17 carries for 68 yards and 12 catches for 86 yards last year, while also establishing himself as one of the team's most effective special-teams contributors. He'd reprised that role this year before Jackson was injured.
"I have no idea how it's going to be" Sunday, Minor said. "I just know I'm going to approach it just like I always do. You always prepare yourself as if you're going to be playing, and whenever the coaches call my number to get in there, I'm going to be ready."
Said wide receiver Torry Holt: "Travis is tough, very smart, very savvy ... a good football player who enjoys playing the game. He's just a true pro."
Hearing those words surely would make Leslie Minor proud.
Re: Minor Welcomes Major Role
I always liked Minor. Should Jackson no play today, which I don't think he will, I think Minor to have a solid game against the Pats. I was glad when we picked him up.