By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
06/02/2004


Just as one Rams quarterback exited, a new one arrived. On Wednesday, the day that the release of Kurt Warner became official, the team signed Russ Michna, an undrafted rookie who will be right at home when he reports to training camp.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Michna is a product of Western Illinois University in Macomb, the site of the Rams' preseason camp since 1996. He is a two-time offensive player of the year in the NCAA Division I-AA Gateway Conference. As a senior, Michna completed 211 of 371 passes for a WIU- record 3,160 yards and 21 touchdowns. He is a native of Elk Grove Village, Ill.

Essentially, Michna is being added as a camp "arm." He'll join fellow quarterbacks Marc Bulger, Chris Chandler and Jeff Smoker, the team's sixth-round draft pick in April, on the roster.

Still seeking depth at tight end, the Rams also signed Joel Jacobs of Nebraska-Kearney. Jacobs, 6-5 and 225 pounds, had 27 receptions for 228 yards last year as a senior. For his career, Jacobs caught 66 passes for 623 yards and three touchdowns. He was selected three times to the All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference squad.

Cam Cleeland and Brandon Manumaleuna shared the tight end duties last season, after veteran Ernie Conwell signed with New Orleans in April 2003 as a free agent. Manumaleuna is back, with a new five-year, $8.3 million contract. Cleeland became an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the Rams still hope to sign him for 2004.

The team used a seventh-round spot in the draft to take Erik Jensen, a tight end from Iowa.