A new beginning for Rams end
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Friday, Nov. 09 2007
To say that Victor Adeyanju had modest expectations entering his rookie season
would be classic understatement.
"To be honest, I was just lucky to make this team," Adeyanju said.
Not only did Adeyanju make the squad in 2006, he started nine games at right
end after the decline and eventual departure of Anthony Hargrove. Adeyanju
proved to be a high-motor player who was good against the run. He even scored a
touchdown on an 89-yard return of a fumble recovery Nov. 12 in Seattle.
"I felt real comfortable," Adeyanju said.
Comfortable, yes. But in the NFL, you never can relax, particularly if you're a
second-day draft pick. On the first day of the free agency trading period last
March, the Rams traded for Detroit right end James Hall. That meant Adeyanju,
once again, was relegated to a backup role.
"As a teammate, I was like, 'It's great for the team,'" Adeyanju said of the
trade. "But as a competitor, I was like, 'I've got to go out there and do
"You never really question the organization. Everything happens for a reason,
and you just have to play the role that they want you to play."
Second chances aren't guaranteed in the NFL, but Leonard Little's season-ending
toe injury has given Adeyanju another opportunity. The fourth-round 2006 draft
pick from Indiana likely will be the team's starting left end for the final
eight games of this season, beginning with Sunday's contest against New Orleans
in the Superdome.
"I don't think anybody can fill Leonard's (shoes) right now," Adeyanju said.
"It's definitely going to be a gradual process. I'll just do what I do best, on
a consistent basis. And the things I need to improve on, get better at those."
The one gap in Adeyanju's game is his pass-rushing ability, but it's something
he's working on.
"Victor was never a great pass rusher coming out of college," Rams defensive
coordinator Jim Haslett said. "He's really good on the run. Really disciplined.
Really smart. And he's getting better on the pass.
"He's never going to be Lawrence Taylor. He's going to be 300 pounds someday,
so he's never going to have the feet that you need to be a speed rusher."
But there are other ways to get to the quarterback. Such as the bull rush,
better use of the hands and taking better angles to the backfield. Adeyanju,
who had just one sack last season among his 43 tackles, is getting better at
all of that.
"Will he get double-digit sacks ever?" Haslett said. "I don't think so. He
doesn't have that type of body. But will you be able to run on him? Probably
not. Can you get a push with him? Yeah."
With Little gone for the year, any pass rush the Rams get from Adeyanju will be
a bonus, starting with Drew Brees and the Saints. Brees has been sacked only
once since the Saints' Monday night loss to Tennessee on Sept. 24.
Overall, the Saints have allowed only five sacks all season — a league low. In
comparison, Rams quarterbacks Marc Bulger and Gus Frerotte have been dropped a
combined 25 times.
"When (Brees) holds the ball for a while, it's usually off the play-action,"
said Rams backup defensive end Trevor Johnson.
New Orleans is so proficient at selling the run fake on the play-action,
Johnson said it's hard to read "pass."
"And on a normal drop-back, where you actually get a good read at pass, he gets
rid of the ball pretty quick — they do have a lot of quick passes," said
Johnson, who also should see more playing time without Little.
The Rams must do something to get Brees out of rhythm, because the Saints'
passing game has been on fire lately. In his past two games, Brees has
completed 66 of 88 passes (75 percent) for 781 yards, seven touchdowns and no
"Yeah, (Brees) is hardly sacked, but we've got a couple things that we've
looked at on film, vulnerabilities that he has," Adeyanju said. "So we've got
to work those. ... He has a lot of confidence right now. It's up to us to not
let him get comfortable back there."