New Rams tackle is benefiting from teaching by an old hand
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Saturday, Aug. 21 2004

Asked what he knew about the long and distinguished career of former Rams
tackle Jackie Slater, current Rams tackle Greg Randall could provide only
limited specifics. "I know he was a great player in his time," Randall said.
"And I know he started before I was born."

Jackie Slater already had logged two NFL seasons when Gregory Wayne Randall
first appeared on the scene, in Galveston, Texas. These days, they're working
together. Randall, 26, is fighting for a spot in the lineup, and Slater, 50, is
tutoring him in that endeavor.

Slater helps out with the offensive linemen during training camp, and Randall
said he's thrilled to have a Hall of Famer giving him advice.

Apprised that Slater played 20 years - all with the Rams - before retiring
after the 1995 season, Randall, a four-year vet, shook his head. "That's pretty
hard to fathom," he said. "It's a blessing to be able to play that long and
still come out healthy like he is now."

The 6-foot-6, 333-pound Randall, who started all 16 games at right tackle for
Houston last year, was signed as a free agent Aug. 2, about a week into camp.
He's been playing catch-up since, trying to absorb the Rams' offensive
approach. "It's coming a little easier," he said. "There's a lot more thinking
than anybody else's offense."

Because injuries have decimated the offensive line, Randall has been shoved
into the middle of the action. He'd been working with the first unit since
Grant Williams turned an ankle last week in Macomb, Ill. Williams was back at
practice Saturday evening at Rams Park, and Randall was moved to the second
team.

Wilkins is no fan of preseason games

If Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins were appointed NFL commissioner for a day, the
first thing he'd do is pare the run-up to the regular season.

"I hate preseason. I wish they'd cut it down to two games or three games," he
said. "It just gets crazy. Four games . . . by the time the first
(regular-season) game rolls around, you feel like it's halfway through the
season and you've still got the full season to go."

The tedium of training camp is even more pronounced for specialists such as
Wilkins, who participate in few live drills and do most of their work on their
own. "It gets pretty boring," said Wilkins, who is entering his 11th season.
"We had a lot of free time (in Macomb, Ill.). What's nice now is breaking camp
and getting back here. A change in scenery helps out."