By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Patience isn't one of rookie Adam Carriker's leading virtues. So, the painstaking process of adjusting to the NFL is difficult for him to tolerate.
"It really is," he said. "I'm not used to that, and I don't really like it."
Carriker was the Rams' first-round draft choice (No. 13 overall) and immediately was installed as a starter on the defensive line. He was an end in Nebraska's 3-4 alignment but is playing inside for the Rams.
He acknowledged that his performance so far has been spotty; he's collected only six tackles during the Rams' 0-4 start. "I've played OK," said Carriker, 6-feet-6 and 308 pounds. "I feel like I've played well in some areas, and I feel like I can get better in some areas. ... Just being a competitive football player, I'll never be happy with how I play. You can always get better."
Still, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett
is seeing improvement. "He's a load in the middle," Haslett said. "You've got to keep repping him. He's a guy who hasn't played a lot inside, period. We played him mostly at training camp at the nose because we didn't know what Cliff was."
Fifth-round draftee Clifton Ryan has worked his way into the rotation at the nose tackle, so Carriker has been spending more time lately at the other tackle spot.
"Cliff is a really a true, true nose tackle in all the sense," Haslett said. "Adam, in the long run, will be a better three-technique. Hopefully, someday those two guys will be in there and those will be their jobs at some point, whether it's this year, next year, whenever."
So not only is Carriker trying to become accustomed to a higher level of competition — he observed quickly that NFL players are "definitely bigger, faster, more physical, a lot stronger" — he's learning two new positions at the same time.
"It's definitely a process," he said. "It's going to take a while to get acclimated to that. But you've just got to be patient, because that's part of what the game's about.