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  1. #1
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    Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    Wednesday, October 4, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    On every unit of every football team, there is a player or two that can be considered a “core” guy, the type of guy the rest of his teammates look to for guidance and the kind of guy who makes the play when the play needs to be made.

    It isn’t often that core guys find themselves as street free agents in the middle of the season. But that is exactly what happened to linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski last Friday afternoon.

    Kacyvenski had long been a staple of the Seahawks special teams units, even going so far as to be elected that unit’s captain. So, it came as quite a surprise to Isaiah when Seattle released him to make room for practice-squad running back Marquis Weeks.

    “My heart was hurting,” Kacyvenski said. “Being a special teams captain over there, it never felt to me like I was expendable. It was a weird feeling.”

    The Seahawks’ loss is the Rams’ gain as Kacyvenski signed a one-year deal with his former division rival on Tuesday. In his seven seasons in Seattle, Kacyvenski had made his reputation as a special teams dynamo, leading those units in tackles most of the time. He finished with 87 special teams stops in 93 games and filled an important role as a wedge buster on kickoff coverage.

    That resume` made it difficult for Kacyvenski to part ways with the team that gave the fourth rounder out of Harvard his start in the NFL. In his time with the Seahawks, Kacyvenski had built a close relationship with coach Mike Holmgren.

    With running back Shaun Alexander out with a fractured bone in his foot, the Seahawks had to make room for another back. Not many expected that space to be cleared by discarding Kacyvenski.

    Seattle called Kacyvenski and informed him of its decision late Friday afternoon, but Kacyvenski had a good idea following the team’s practice when he returned to three missed calls from his agent.

    “It was kind of tough to walk up and listen to what they said,” Kacyvenski said. “The line in the NFL is that we will bring you back Monday, but everyone in the NFL knows that’s the famous phrase.”

    In this case, though, the Seahawks truly did want to bring Kacyvenski back to the team. Seattle has a bye this week and the need for the extra running back might not be so dire by the time they play the Rams on Oct. 15.

    By the time Seattle reached Kacyvenski, he was on his way to a visit in St. Louis. On his layover in Denver, he conferred with his wife about the potential of St. Louis.

    Kacyvenski and his wife Lauren considered interest from “six or seven” teams before deciding that St. Louis would be the best fit. That meant it was time for the most difficult part, telling Holmgren he would not be returning.

    “He was very upset, to say the least,” Kacyvenski said. “I told him it was a tough thing and I had to weigh all the options. Coach Holmgren has almost been like a father figure to me. I feel bad because telling coach Holmgren was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I talked to him yesterday and hopefully down the road I can call him up and talk to him again, but right now he’s not too happy.”

    Meanwhile, in St. Louis, there is a group of coaches by the name of Scott Linehan, Jim Haslett and Bob Ligashesky that are more than happy to welcome Kacyvenski into the mix.

    One reason Kacyvenski came to St. Louis was to find a way to get back on to the field on defense. In Seattle, he had once been the starter at middle linebacker but was replaced last season by Lofa Tatupu and didn’t appear to be on the verge of getting his job back.

    After the Rams lost Paul Smith, one of their core special teams players, to an eye injury against the Lions, they began to scour the market for someone that can help them improve on their 31st-ranked kickoff coverage unit.

    Enter Kacyvenski.

    “All teams have those core special teams guys,” Linehan said. “I didn’t expect a player of this caliber to be available. With Paul’s injury we were looking. I think he improves our football team. He will help in all areas of special teams.”

    At least initially, Kacyvenski will contribute exclusively on special teams as he learns the nuances of Haslett’s unique and somewhat complicated scheme. After that, Linehan envisions Kacyvenski as a backup at middle linebacker behind starter Will Witherspoon and alongside Brandon Chillar.

    To make room for Kacyvenski, the Rams let go safety Dwaine Carpenter. St. Louis now has eight linebackers on the active roster, meaning there could be a shakeup when it comes to who is active on Sundays.

    It will take some time for Kacyvenski to grow comfortable in the Rams’ defense, but Linehan said he expects Kacyvenski to jump into the mix right away and play special teams this weekend against the Packers.

    “That’s where he will fit in comfortably from the beginning and we have to get him up to speed on defense,” Linehan said. “He’ll be active and serving as a backup on the defensive side. He’ll get more and more comfortable with what we are doing on defense as we go.”

    And though partings ways with Seattle was difficult for Kacyvenski, he can only look to the future, a future he believes could be bright in St. Louis.

    “When I got here, I really got a good feeling,” Kacyvenski said. “The way it went down, we thought the Rams were the best team.”


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    This guy should improve our special teams coverage alot. Also, it sets up a good story for the guy getting cut from the division rival, coming over to us and helping us win the division!

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    Yeah, turnabout's fair play. Wistrom I didn't mind, but hated losing Bryce Fisher.
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    What does Holmgren have to be mad about? He cut the guy - what did he expect, that he'd wait around for the team to find a place for him?

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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    Nothin' I like better than seeing Holmgren on the sidelines getting red in the face - really cracks me up. He's got a great expression - almost better than Gruden's.

    Speaking of which, Linny got a little upset last week - nice to see.
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    What a great pickup for us. Pretty strange the seachickens chose him of all people to let go. Sounds like Holmgren thought they had such a good relationship that he would wait, and maybe that is why they chose him. Here's and idea, maybe they should have talked to the guy about it first. Thanks for the screw up Holmgren, we needed a guy like this.

    Only bad thing I see so far about this pickup is that we added one more name that is hard to pronounce. Although I do admit it is funny to listen to the idiotic Fox announcers stumble though name after name during our games. You'd think the geniouses would make a note card or two and practice the difficult names ahead of time like hockey announcers, or any true professional annoncers, do.

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    Here's a clue for some of you -- Holmgren doesn't make those decisions. I don't imagine that Holmgren is very upset with Kaz, but it's certainly understandable that he's upset at the situation.

    Congrats on signing him. I really wish a lot of success. You might be happy to know that among the other teams pursuing him were the Cards and the digits.

    By the way, it's "KAZ uh VIN ski"

  8. #8
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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueTalon View Post
    Here's a clue for some of you -- Holmgren doesn't make those decisions. I don't imagine that Holmgren is very upset with Kaz, but it's certainly understandable that he's upset at the situation.

    Congrats on signing him. I really wish a lot of success. You might be happy to know that among the other teams pursuing him were the Cards and the digits.

    By the way, it's "KAZ uh VIN ski"
    Thanks for the pronunciation guide, my guess was off a bit.

    Also out of curiosity, does the GM for the hawks make all the decisions by himself, is the owner involved at all or what? I'm surprised Holmgren has zero say so in decisions like this.

  9. #9
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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    One of the things the Seahawks organization has room to improve in is communication. They play things close to the vest, sometimes too close. This is an instance where better communication would have been helpful.

    Here's what I think happened. We knew Shaun Alexander wasn't going to be available for the game by I think Wednesday. So the question then became (A) do we need to add an RB for depth, and (B) if so, who do we release to make room? That question wasn't resolved until Friday afternoon, when Kaz got his notice. According to Kaz, nobody was saying anything to him all day Friday, and they kept "pulling him out of stuff."

    If Kaz was the only person they were considering cutting, that would have been a disrespectful way of releasing him. But I don't think they made up their mind until that afternoon. I think they had it boiled down to two or three players, but didn't decide until then that they'd let Kaz go. The difference that makes is, what do you tell a player? "Hey, we've got to let someone go to make room for an RB. We don't know who we're going to release yet, but we've got it narrowed down to three people, and you're one of them." THAT would go over big. Something unknown at this point is this: was there anyone else besides Kaz they were "pulling out of stuff" on Friday?

    I can understand Kaz feeling a bit slighted, and I read his comment about the Seahawks telling him "We want you back on Monday" and his assessment of that statement. However, he left a contract with the Seahawks on the table when he signed with the Rams, so it's not like he didn't know they were serious about wanting him back. (So if he sticks with that story, I know he's BS-ing someone.)

    Anyway, to answer your question, I'm pretty sure that a big part of the reason the decision was as late as it was, was that the coaching staff and the FO were conferring. Holmgren wasn't upset because he was surprised by Kaz being cut, I think he was surprised that Kaz didn't think they were serious about wanting him back and that he signed with someone else (and that "someone else" was a divisional rival).
    Last edited by BlueTalon; -10-05-2006 at 10:21 PM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    Quote Originally Posted by VegasRam View Post
    Nothin' I like better than seeing Holmgren on the sidelines getting red in the face - really cracks me up. He's got a great expression - almost better than Gruden's.
    Holmy doesn't like it when people talk about him:


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  11. #11
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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    Hate to see any team lose such a class act but.....we could not have made a nicer pickup at this point.


    Hooah


    Win, Lose or Draw... Rams for Life!
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  12. #12
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    Re: Rams Add Kacyvenski to Core of Coverage

    Kaz will nothing but a positive influence on the Rams, hard worker with a non stop motor and a great football attitude. Doesn't hurt that he went to Harvard as well. As much as us Seahawks fans hate to see a favorite like him go it's probably a better move as far as his career. Tatupu, Kikovidious,(spelling) D.D.Lewis all have a bit of an advantage in depth ahead of him in the MLB position, add in Bently as well and there was almost zero chance that Kaz was going to get any significant playing time outside of special teams. From your own experiences with the Rams, the better you get the less high effort guys with marginal skill are on your team in leu of skills and maybe not so much effort in some cases, (See Koren Robinson) but your depth has less talent drop off. Kaz was a leader by example, the attitude and leadership is the hardest thing to replace. If you get a chance read his bio and how he grew up and what he has made for himself as far as his life, you will really be impressed and embrace this guy all the more.
    To Be P/C or Not P/C That is the Question................Seahawks Kick Ass!!!

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