Murphy Preparing for Duty ..
By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer
Jerome Murphy spent his first NFL Sunday tracking Larry Fitzgerald.
But the rookie cornerback from South Florida didn’t do it in pads out on the Edward Jones Dome playing surface.
Instead, Murphy found himself in street clothes as one of the team’s pregame inactives. His assignment for the day: follow Fitzgerald’s every move and track it for the coaching staff.
“I was patient and working on the sideline helping the coaches out by writing down the routes Fitzgerald was running and charting what he was doing,” Murphy said.
While the Rams’ first and second round draft choices, quarterback Sam Bradford and left tackle Rodger Saffold, were playing an integral role in Sunday’s game, Murphy had not yet done enough to earn one of the 45 active roster spots for the opener against Arizona.
So Murphy sat by patiently, taking as many mental repetitions as possible and trying to learn the nuances of the game from the sideline.
Of course, when backup corners Kevin Dockery and Justin King, who both play in sub-packages, left with hamstring injuries, the Rams were left short at the position.
“Yeah,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “It’s just that when you looked at it and you were going to put four corners up, some of the other guys have a little more experience and were kind of more comfortable with the scheme. So Jerome will get his chance.”
With that duo again fighting injuries this week, it appears Murphy’s chance is going to come sooner than later.
In Wednesday’s practice, Dockery and King both sat out the duration of the practice. Dockery’s hamstring injury was the more severe of the two and he isn’t likely to be ready this week. King’s status is more uncertain.
Either way, it seems Murphy is about to make his NFL debut against the Raiders on Sunday.
“Well, he may be forced into it,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s a young guy, he’s a rookie. Right now, we had some veterans that we could play there, but we’ll see. Maybe he’ll be the…maybe that will be the change.”
Because Dockery and King work mostly in the nickel spots, it stands to reason that any role Murphy would play on Sunday would come in the slot.
Much of Murphy’s work since arriving in St. Louis has been on the outside but he says he’s done enough with the Rams and in his time in college to feel fine playing in the slot.
“I am ready,” Murphy said. “It’s not like I haven’t been playing nickel or anything before. They have me playing corner and nickel here so I am ready to play both wherever they need me. I am very comfortable. I played a whole season of it when I was in college at South Florida so I had a whole year under my belt so when I got here; it was like I was familiar with it from college.”
LINE (BACKER) DANCING: In Sunday’s opener, the Rams lost linebacker Chris Chamberlain to a toe injury that is expected to keep him out six to eight weeks.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Rams were bit again by the injury bug on Wednesday when rookie linebacker Josh Hull suffered a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament in the opening moments of special teams work in the practice.
Hull is going to miss the rest of his rookie season and will be placed on injured reserve soon.
“It was just in special teams,” Spagnuolo said. “We were just covering kicks and just one of those plants and…one of those freak things.”
With Chamberlain and Hull both out, the Rams now have just four healthy linebackers in James Laurinaitis, Na’il Diggs, Larry Grant and David Vobora. The team is expected to add linebacker Bryan Kehl off waivers from the Giants sometime Wednesday evening.
Kehl is in his third year out of BYU. Originally, he was a fourth-round draft choice in 2008 and played in 31 games with three starts.
In 2009, Kehl tied for the team lead with 16 special teams stops.
INJURY REPORT: Just one week into the season, the Rams’ injury report has grown considerably. Last week, only safety James Butler was limited in practice but that changed on Wednesday.
Chamberlain, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (ankle), running back Steven Jackson (knee), receiver Laurent Robinson (ankle), Dockery and King did not participate in the workout.
Hoomanawanui, like Chamberlain, is expected to miss six to eight weeks with his injury. Spagnuolo said Wednesday that he would not require surgery on the ankle, though.
Jackson and Robinson are both precautionary and Spagnuolo expects both to be fine.
Defensive tackle Fred Robbins was also limited with some soreness in his knee.
RAM BITS: The Rams made some adjustments to the roster and the practice squad late Tuesday afternoon, bringing back tight end Darcy Johnson and releasing defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo…The team brought in linebacker/fullback Britt Miller and FB/TE Jamie McCoy to the practice squad and released WR Brandon McRae and RB Allen Patrick…Because Oakland Coliseum is used for baseball as well, the Rams sent kicker Josh Brown, punter Donnie Jones and snapper Chris Massey to a local dirt field to practice working on that surface…Spagnuolo said the Rams will likely continue to go with Danny Amendola on punt returns and Mardy Gilyard on kick returns
Re: Murphy Preparing for Duty ..