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Punter has the biggest impact of '05 draftees
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Monday, Sep. 19 2005
Few would've guessed that after two regular-season games, the Rams' 2005 draft
choice who has made the greatest impact is punter Reggie Hodges, a
sixth-rounder from Ball State. Of course, most of them haven't had a chance
The first- and second-round picks, tackle Alex Barron and cornerback Ron
Bartell, have yet to suit up; guard Richie Incognito (third round) isn't under
contract; tight end Jerome Collins (fifth round) is on the practice squad; wide
receiver Dante Ridgeway (also sixth round) was cut during training camp; and
Ryan Fitzpatrick (seventh round) has been inactive as the No. 3 quarterback.
Guard Claude Terrell (fourth round) saw his first action Sunday in the 17-12
victory at Arizona. Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (also third round) played in San
Francisco but sat out Sunday. Only Hodges, safety Jerome Carter (also fourth
round) and fullback Madison Hedgecock (seventh round) have played in both
Hodges was named the team's special-teams player of the game after averaging
42.9 yards (40.1) net on seven punts vs. the Cardinals. Hodges also earned
plaudits for his accuracy.
"He was very consistent," coach Mike Martz. "The thing we've always asked of
Reggie is that consistency that allows us good field position." =
That wasn't the case during the preseason or in the opening-week loss in San
Francisco, when Hodges averaged only 33.0 yards and gave the ***** a short
field that led to a TD. Martz credited special-teams coach Bob Ligashesky with
discovering - and repairing - a flaw in Hodges' mechanics.
"He was dropping the ball inside a little bit" just before he stepped into his
punts, Martz said. "It was basically a slight alteration, and he responded. ...
This is kind of guy we thought we drafted, really. And this is Bob's selection.
He said, 'This is the guy we want.'"
Running back Steven Jackson (18 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown) was
selected as the offensive player of the game. The defensive honor went to
strong safety Adam Archuleta (six tackles), whose sack in the final seconds
halted the Cardinals drive at the Rams 10-yard line.
Saipaia, is "OK"
Blaine Saipaia, the offensive line's utilityman, earned a passing grade as he
stepped in for injured starting right tackle Rex Tucker (calf).
"He did OK," Martz said. "When he hasn't been playing out there, he gets a
little anxious. ... He had a couple of errors that hurt a little bit in the
running game, but he made some terrific blocks, too. Right now, he's our best
choice out there, and he's playing well - not as well as he can or will, but
I've always felt really good about Blaine.
Cornerback DeJuan Groce was as eager as any of the Rams to review the game
tape. He wanted to get a good look at his eye-popping, one-handed interception.
"Everybody said it was going to look nice on film, so I can't wait to watch
it," Groce said.