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Ojinnaka hopes versatility works to his advantage
By Kathleen Nelson
Despite being one of the newest members of the Rams and not having a position to call his own, offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka feels right at home in St. Louis.
He's surrounded by familiar faces.
Though he appeared in eight games with the New England Patriots last season, Ojinnaka spent the first four years of his career in Atlanta, where he was drafted in 2006 by Rams general manager Billy Devaney. He played there with guard Harvey Dahl and running back Jerious Norwood, whom the Rams signed this summer, and worked with Ted Crews, the Rams' senior director of communications.
"I had calls from other places, but this seemed like a good fit," he said. "They signed Harvey a couple days before me and he liked it here. I had so many connections it was easy to feel comfortable."
Ojinnaka, 27, has played center, guard and tackle in the Rams' first three preseason games and said the coaches told him to be ready to play at tackle Thursday, when the Rams face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason finale.
"Football is the same. It just depends on what the offensive coordinator calls the plays. They are similar schemes," Ojinnaka said of the Falcons' and Rams' offenses. "I pride myself on being versatile. Whatever way to help the team, I'll do it. I hope it pays off."
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said versatility in a backup lineman could help his cause when trimming the roster to 53.
"It adds value to the team when the backup offensive linemen can play more than one position. We need that," Spagnuolo said. "We need someone who can play guard and center, guard and tackle. Typically, we've activated seven offensive linemen on game days, so those two (backup) guys have to do a number of things."
Officially listed as a tackle, Ojinnaka said he would be happy to make the Rams at any of the three positions, or any combination thereof. Until then, his wife, Ebony, and son, Emmanuel King, wait in Atlanta and hope to make the move here shortly.
"I feel good. I felt like I played well enough in the first three games to make the team," he said. "But at the end of the day, I don't make the call. Billy and Coach Spags do. Hopefully they see versatility as a good thing."
STAYing CLOSE TO HOME
Tight end Demarco Cosby has been glad to get his shot at the NFL close to home. An undrafted rookie out of Central Missouri, Cosby joined the Rams on Aug. 9 but has yet to make a catch in a preseason game.
Cosby earned his chance with the Rams because of a stellar career at Central Missouri State, where he caught 110 passes for 1,483 yards and 15 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons.
"It was a fun offense, really high-powered," he said.
He ran a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day at Missouri Western and said he got calls from a few teams before the draft. Afterward, he was left in limbo but found a good way to bide his time. He hung out at the home of his parents, Paul and Theresa Cosby, in Kansas City and worked out with Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, cornerback Brandon Carr and linebacker Andy Studebaker.
"I hadn't heard anything from anybody until the Rams called me," Cosby said. "It was a nice surprise. I feel blessed to be in this situation and to be out here. I'm leaving this in God's hands."
Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Monday because of a pectoral injury. Spagnuolo said Laurinaitis' participation in Jacksonville would be a game-time decision.
Spagnuolo said he had consulted with head trainer Reggie Scott "about does it make sense to take a chance on setting him back. We'll just see how he feels on game day. If he feels good enough to get in there on some plays, we might. Otherwise, we'll just keep him out."
Also returning to practice was cornerback Al Harris (knee). Defensive tackle Fred Robbins (back), center Drew Miller (ankle) and running back Keith Toston (thigh) saw limited action.
The only player not traveling to Jacksonville, though, is tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, nursing a calf injury.
The Rams reduced their roster to 80 by placing three players on the waived-injured list: defensive end Jermelle Cudjo (back), cornerback Dionte Dinkins (high ankle sprain) and safety Mikail Baker (hamstring).
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