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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Move to nose tackle is task for Kennedy

    By Jim Thomas

    A part of Jimmy Kennedy was surprised by the news last offseason. But at the same time he understood why the new Rams coaching staff wanted him to make the switch to nose tackle.

    Namely, there was nobody else.

    Ryan Pickett was gone, signing a free-agent deal with Green Bay. And La'Roi Glover, a free-agent pickup from Dallas, wasn't really a nose tackle. That left Kennedy, the No. 12 overall pick in the 2003 draft out of Penn State.

    "Once they picked 'Glove' up, they told me they were going to slide me over to nose (tackle)," Kennedy said. "I was surprised by it. But it made sense to me the way they delivered (the news) to me. I'm a bigger guy. And La'Roi is a proven Pro Bowler."

    You wouldn't think moving a couple of feet over on the

    defensive line is a big deal, but in the NFL it is. Nose tackle is the blue-collar position of the defensive line.

    "They do more of the grunt work," Kennedy said. "You're the anchor of the defense for the most part. You have to go out there, take on the double teams, and make the guy behind you look great."

    The other defensive tackle position, generically called the "3-technique," is more of the glory spot. The "3-technique" lines up between the opposing team's offensive guard and tackle and is counted on to shoot that gap.

    This is the first time Kennedy has played the nose, in the NFL or college. By the numbers, Kennedy has 38 tackles and is on pace to top his career high of 53 stops last season. But nose tackle is the one position on defense where statistics don't necessarily reflect effective play.

    "When you play the nose, you've got to eat up that center-guard (double team)," coach Scott Linehan said. "If you can take up two players, someone else is going to benefit Will Witherspoon and the linebackers.

    "It seems like you're pounding your head against the wall. There's a little reality to that, too. The guys who embrace that and do the best job at playing nose guard don't get a whole lot of production. You don't see a lot of tackles."

    Kennedy and the Rams' run defense gets in trouble when he reverts to his old role and plays more like a "3-technique" instead of a nose tackle. What the Rams need from Kennedy is the dirty work: eat up blockers and let the linebackers clean up behind him.

    But old habits apparently are hard to break. Too often, Kennedy turns sideways to go around a block, trying to make a play upfield. That leaves the middle of the field open, leading to some big runs against the Rams.

    "At times it can get frustrating because I'm not running around making all those plays," Kennedy said. "But the reward is watching Will and all those guys finish with 13, 14 tackles because of the double teams."

    In theory, Kennedy has everything you'd want to be an imposing nose tackle: size (6 feet 4, 330 pounds), strength and athleticism.

    "Coming out of training camp, before Jimmy broke his hand, I thought he had a chance to be one of the better ones in the league," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "He had a little setback with the hand, and he's kind of fought through that.

    "One thing about Jimmy. If he stays square, and he uses his strength, and he uses his power, he can do almost anything he wants. Because he's a big man. The problem he gets is when he turns and he plays on one leg, and he doesn't have all that strength.

    "So really, it's up to him. When he wants to do it, he's as good as anybody."

    With each week, Kennedy says he's getting more comfortable at the nose. But he's still seeing things for the first time at that position.

    "It'll come with snaps, repetition," Kennedy said. "Sometimes it's subtle stuff, like hand placement. The proper step ... maybe just a step quicker about doing it a certain way. And that's going to come with time on the field."

    But it has been difficult to anchor because of injuries to both hands. First there was the right hand, which resulted in surgery to insert a couple of pins to stabilize the broken bone. A couple of weeks ago, Kennedy suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb. Kennedy wears big padded gloves to protect his hands.

    "I've got those big, white gloves on, looking like Mickey Mouse," Kennedy said.

    Injuries or not, with six games left, the Rams need Kennedy to move beyond the apprenticeship stage. Their run defense, ranked 31st in the NFL, works a lot better with Kennedy anchoring the middle rather than running around trying to make big plays.

    "He's got to really play big for us," Linehan said. "He knows that, and he wants to play big for us. ... If he can play his best football down the stretch, it'll really help us."

  2. #2
    rampete Guest

    Re: Move to nose tackle is task for Kennedy

    this may, or may not, explain why so many DT's drafted high in the first round do not pan out in the league...they are trying to be something they may not be, a slashing up the field pass rusher instead of the dig-in gap-2 fortress they ought to be...

  3. #3
    maineram Guest

    Re: Move to nose tackle is task for Kennedy

    This also explaind why the D is getting gashed up the middle in the running game. Getting beat is one thing, turning upfield and trying to make a play and watching the runningback shoot through the hole you left is another.

    Sounds like he is missing Koller, "reminding him", on the sideline that he's to stay home every play.

    Some need a gentle nudge...some need a 2x4 !!!!

    Maineram - :x

  4. #4
    chiguy's Avatar
    chiguy is offline Registered User
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    Re: Move to nose tackle is task for Kennedy

    Well, now we know at least one person that is "missing assignments."


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