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  1. #1
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    New cornerback surprised by trade to Rams

    Johnson had backing of assistant coach
    BY STEVE KORTE
    News-Democrat

    ST. LOUIS - Being traded for a former first-round draft pick came as a compliment to cornerback Chris Johnson.

    The St. Louis Rams acquired Johnson from the Green Bay Packers on Saturday in exchange for linebacker Robert Thomas, the 31st overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft.

    "I really didn't know until last night," Johnson said of the fact that Thomas was a former first-rounder. "That made me feel pretty good."

    Johnson said the trade caught him by surprise. He expected to

    "I felt that I had at least one year there," Johnson said. "They let a lot of linebackers go, so they needed some linebackers. In the trade, that's what they got. I hope everything works out for them, and I know it's going to work out for me."

    Rams coach Mike Martz said Johnson was obtained on the recommendation of Rams secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer, who coached the defensive backs for the Packers last season.

    "In this situation, I solely relied on Kurt's opinion of him," Martz said. "Obviously, Kurt had great things to say about him. He thought he had terrific potential. He had some injury issues that we hope and think are cleared up at this point. He's still rough around the edges, but he's a competitive guy with a lot of ability who we think in short order can contribute for us."

    Johnson was a seventh-round pick by the Packers in the 2003 NFL draft. He missed the 2003 season after injuring his right knee in training camp after colliding with teammate Donald Driver. He suffered a stress fracture in his leg during an offseason workout in 2004, that hindered his return from the knee injury.

    Johnson was on the Packers' 53-man roster late last season, but he never played in a game.

    "I feel great right now," Johnson said. "My body is holding up like I want it to. I'm doing all my conditioning and strengthening stuff."

    Johnson has the kind of size (5-foot-11, 198 pounds) and speed (4.18 seconds in the 40-yard dash during a workout at the University of Louisville before the 2003 NFL draft) that ever team covets in its cornerbacks.

    "He's a tall guy with terrific speed and range," Martz said. "He's another one of those tall corners with the long speed that you are looking for when going against the big receivers you are going to find in our division."

    Johnson said having Schottenheimer and Rams free safety Michael Hawthorne, a former Packers teammate, around should speed up his learning curve with the Rams.

    "It helps a lot because he was one of my mentors at Green Bay," Johnson said of Hawthorne. "When I came in, I didn't know the playbook that well, and he breaks it down a little better. I just learn from him."

    Hawthorne said he planned to help Johnson any way he could.

    "I consider that guy my little brother," Hawthorne said. "I just took him under my wing when he got to Green Bay."

    Asked what were Johnson's attributes, Hawthorne said: "You'll see. He's fast. He's got a little size on him. It reminds you of me, huh? Just wait. You might like what you see."

    Injury report

    The only player who didn't practice for the Rams on Monday was cornerback Terry Fair, who is recovering from a neck injury suffered in the team's third preseason game last week.

    Martz said Fair won't practice until he has no pain in the neck that he injured trying to tackle Detroit running back Kevin Jones.

    "He's had some soreness in his neck, so we're going to keep him out this week and just wait until he is completely pain-free or soreness-free," Martz said.

    Fair said he was holding out hope that he would be able to play in the Rams' season opener against the San Francisco ***** on Sunday.

    "I'm going to try to stay as optimistic as I can about it. It's one of those things where you don't want to rush a neck injury or anything. I'm just going to keep getting treatment on it, and hopefully it will start feeling better right now. It's still sore. It's still hurting."

    Fair said he has to sleep on his back to keep from turning his head while he sleeps.

    "It's always more stiff in the morning because you are just waking up," Fair said. "It's been pretty consistent with how it feels throughout the day. I've been running, so that is a good thing. As far as quick turns with my head, there is a considerable amount of pain still there. I'm just trying to fight through it and get rid of it."

    Both defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (back) and tight end Roland Williams (knee) were back on the practice field.

    "He should be fine," Martz said of Pickett's availability against the *****. "He practiced today, so I would expect that he'll be ready to go."

    Numbers game

    The Rams had several players switch uniform numbers after the team's final cuts.

    Middle linebacker Chris Claiborne is now wearing No. 55 instead of No. 51, Oshiomogho Atogwe is wearing No. 21 instead of No. 41 and Matt Willig is wearing No. 77 instead of No. 63.

    New additions Jeff Robinson and Johnson are wearing No. 87 and No. 37 respectively.


  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: New cornerback surprised by trade to Rams

    He had some injury issues that we hope and think are cleared up at this point.
    "Some" injury issues is an understatement for a guy who has missed two straight seasons, IMO.


    "He's a tall guy with terrific speed and range," Martz said. "He's another one of those tall corners with the long speed that you are looking for when going against the big receivers you are going to find in our division."
    When did 5'11" qualify as tall for a corner? Maybe on our roster, but I'd say 5'11" is probably around average for NFL corners. Guys like McAlister (6'1"), Woodson (6'1"), Tory James (6'2"), Gary Baxter (6'2"), and Lenny Walls (6'4") would qualify as tall corners in my book.


    Johnson said having Schottenheimer and Rams free safety Michael Hawthorne, a former Packers teammate, around should speed up his learning curve with the Rams.

    "It helps a lot because he was one of my mentors at Green Bay," Johnson said of Hawthorne. "When I came in, I didn't know the playbook that well, and he breaks it down a little better. I just learn from him."

    Hawthorne said he planned to help Johnson any way he could.

    "I consider that guy my little brother," Hawthorne said. "I just took him under my wing when he got to Green Bay."
    This is very good news. Anything that's going to help get Johnson acclimated to our playbook quicker gets a thumbs up in my book. The fact that there's already a player on the roster that he's not only familiar with but has a good relationship with is a great sign.


    The Rams had several players switch uniform numbers after the team's final cuts.

    Middle linebacker Chris Claiborne is now wearing No. 55 instead of No. 51, Oshiomogho Atogwe is wearing No. 21 instead of No. 41 and Matt Willig is wearing No. 77 instead of No. 63.

    New additions Jeff Robinson and Johnson are wearing No. 87 and No. 37 respectively.
    I always love news on jersey numbers, so I'm glad to see this reported. Even more happy because I haven't yet purchased an Atogwe jersey.

  3. #3
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    Re: New cornerback surprised by trade to Rams

    Middle linebacker Chris Claiborne is now wearing No. 55 instead of No. 51, Oshiomogho Atogwe is wearing No. 21 instead of No. 41 and Matt Willig is wearing No. 77 instead of No. 63.

    New additions Jeff Robinson and Johnson are wearing No. 87 and No. 37 respectively
    I wish they would stop doing this. Now I have go back an edit my roster on Madden 06'.

    So, Manu will be the only FB sporting #86. :clanram:
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
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    sbramfan is offline Registered User
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    Re: New cornerback surprised by trade to Rams

    When did 5'11" qualify as tall for a corner?
    I think they have him listed at 6' on some other articles.


    Is Martz being superstitious again with #'s? Remember when he made smoker change to a different number?

    I liked Claiborne at 51? Why change? I believe the 55 was Thomas' numer, right? Is it the players wanting this?

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    Re: New cornerback surprised by trade to Rams

    This guy should be nickednamed TRUNG,, like in Trung Candidiate. They have visions of him setting a new standard with his speed. But, ON THE FIELD,, I think he had one interception in his College Career (INTs come easier in college), and he hasn't played a snap in the NFL. So I guess, he's surprised to be on a roster come opening day.

    If he pans out -Great. I think he of great potential will be on the final cut list after one season of winning races in practice and not doing much else.

    The Rams had at least 7 shots to draft the guy and passed on him, so as the article correctly states, it's not the scouting department of the Rams high on this guy -- it's Shotenheimer.

    I cringe every time I think of Green Bay's Pass DEF, it's horrible!!!

    So, I have to wonder about Johnson that couldn't break the lineup or the evaluation/performance of Shotenheimer (sic)..

    .

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    Re: New cornerback surprised by trade to Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by NickSeiler
    When did 5'11" qualify as tall for a corner?
    5'11' does not qualify as tall....nope, no way ....

    Quote Originally Posted by NickSeiler
    I always love news on jersey numbers, so I'm glad to see this reported. Even more happy because I haven't yet purchased an Atogwe jersey.
    Speaking of jerseys, I was thinking this may be the year that I break down and buy one. I typically stay away from rooting for any particular player, but this year I feel inclined to break my own rule.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  7. #7
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    Re: New cornerback surprised by trade to Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by sbramfan
    I liked Claiborne at 51? Why change? I believe the 55 was Thomas' numer, right? Is it the players wanting this?
    I believe #55 was Claiborne's number in college and Minnesota. Chances are he wanted it.

    Same with Atogwe and #21. It was his college number.

  8. #8
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    Re: New cornerback surprised by trade to Rams

    Well, he's got speed but so did Garrett. 5'11 is tall for a corner, or above average height.

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