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  1. #1
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    Rams do the cornerback shuffle

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/13/2006


    With cornerbacks dropping Sunday in Green Bay like leaves in the autumn, Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was in full survival mode.

    "I just kept asking, 'Who've we got in the game?' before I made a call," Haslett said.

    With three corners down, strong safety Corey Chavous found himself "manned up" with wide receivers in the slot for the first time in years.

    Chavous had so many placards on his arms he looked like a walking billboard.



    He needed the cheat sheets for his various roles at safety, and in the nickel and dime packages.

    "He had wristbands all over, stuff all over him, just to make sure he knew what he was doing," Haslett said.

    With Sunday's NFC West showdown with Seattle fast approaching, the Rams aren't exactly sure what they're doing with their secondary.

    Usual starters Travis Fisher (groin) and Fakhir Brown (ankle) remained listed as questionable after Thursday's practice at Rams Park, and coach Scott Linehan sounded more pessimistic about Brown's availability for the Seahawks.

    "Fisher looks ahead of Fakhir right now," Linehan said. "Both did limited work. Travis did a little more. With J.B. (Jerametrius Butler), and bringing (Dwaine) Carpenter back and having some options there, we have a couple ways we can go with it."

    The Rams could start the way they finished in Green Bay, with Tye Hill and Butler at cornerback, and Chavous playing nickel back.

    But if Fisher is ready to play, he could be used at corner, or used on a more limited basis covering slot receivers in the nickel.

    That would allow Chavous to stay at strong safety.

    If you ask Fisher, there's no doubt about Sunday.

    "I'm going to play in the game," he said.

    Last season, Fisher tried to play through a nagging groin injury and ended up missing half the season. He doesn't want the same thing happening this year.

    "It tightened up a little bit (against Green Bay)," Fisher said. "Kind of scared me a little bit. ... So I had to use my smarts this time and come on out. I didn't want to make a crazy decision by playing hurt and costing the team."

    By "costing the team," Fisher was referring both to the short term (Green Bay) and the long term (the season).

    "When I had that setback, I wanted it to be a setback just for that game," Fisher said. "I didn't want it to be a setback for the rest of the season."

    Nonetheless, Linehan may decide that it's best to rest Fisher this week, or at least limit him to nickel duty.

    If that's the case, Butler may get his first start of the year.

    "We have 100 percent confidence in J.B. to start and play," Linehan said. "He came in and did a nice job when he played (in Green Bay). Just like we said before, you've got to be ready. You never know when your number's going to be called. That came true last week. He could be in a similar situation again this week."

    A starter in 2003 and '04 before missing the entire '05 season with a knee injury, Butler hadn't even dressed for a game before the Green Bay contest.

    But Haslett bristled at the notion that Butler was somehow in the coaches' doghouse.

    "I don't know how you guys write that, or you guys say this 'doghouse' stuff," Haslett said Monday at his weekly media session. "There's not one guy on this team -- at least I don't know of one -- that's in a doghouse. Period. (Butler) did nothing wrong.

    "Basically what it came down to, why he wasn't active, is ... if you're the third, fourth or fifth corner on a football team, you've got to be a very good special-teams player. We have some guys who were a little bit better on special teams. That's all."

    Against Green Bay, it took injuries to Brown (a pregame scratch), Fisher and Ron Bartell (calf cramps) to get Butler on the field.

    Bartell, by the way, says he's healthy and ready if needed against Seattle.

    "I'll be fine for Sunday," Bartell said. "I can pretty much play anything in the secondary, so anywhere they need to put me, it wouldn't be a big deal to me."

    As for Hill, whether he's playing corner or nickel back, look for Seattle to test him. Hill made his first career start against Green Bay in place of Brown and was victimized on pass plays of 38 and 46 yards from Brett Favre to Greg Jennings.

    After the game, Chavous the veteran gave Hill a pep talk.

    "It's not really a big deal," Chavous said. "I remember a game my third year, I got four holding penalties and almost got released the next day."

    It's OK to be upset with yourself after days like that, Chavous said.

    "But when you're around the guys, it's just a part of what happens," Chavous said. "Because we need Tye. And we need him to play well. We have a lot of confidence in him."


  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams do the cornerback shuffle

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    As for Hill, whether he's playing corner or nickel back, look for Seattle to test him. Hill made his first career start against Green Bay in place of Brown and was victimized on pass plays of 38 and 46 yards from Brett Favre to Greg Jennings.
    I can only imagine the fan backlash had Fisher been the one to give up those big plays. :x
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  3. #3
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    Re: Rams do the cornerback shuffle

    The fans would of roasted fisher if he gave up those big plays seems like everyone is letting hill pass with that one maybe cause he is a rookie or maybe cause he saved 2 special teams tds against the lions or maybe just because we won. . .
    Torry Holt Dont play that

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    Re: Rams do the cornerback shuffle

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I can only imagine the fan backlash had Fisher been the one to give up those big plays. :x
    True, but from whom should more be expected.....a 5 year veteran starter, or a 5 game rookie back-up? If Hill is making those same mistakes after half a decade in this league, fans will probably be just as displeased and impatient with him.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams do the cornerback shuffle

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    True, but from whom should more be expected.....a 5 year veteran starter, or a 5 game rookie back-up?
    It's not that I disagree with this argument, though I would suggest Fisher hasn't played in or started five years worth of games and is not nearly as athletic as Hill. But whie I have always expected Hill to have growing pains, I'm simply saying there's a large disparity in who gets criticized on this and many fan boards.

    Fisher gets criticized for not being able to bring down Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin, with fans calling for him to be benched or cut the second he makes a mistake. Hill on the other hand gives up two huge plays in a close game to second round rookie Greg Jennings, and the response is in large part pretty quiet.

    Yes, more should be expected from Fisher than Hill at this point. After all, Fisher is the starter who has experience in this league. But regarding expectations, I would expect fans to hold every player responsible for mistakes they make, not just the one whose name is Travis.
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    Re: Rams do the cornerback shuffle

    I would suggest Fisher hasn't played in or started five years worth of games and is not nearly as athletic as Hill.
    Well okay, since being drafted in April 2002, Fisher has played in 53 games or 3.31 seasons, so I concede the technical point. But I believe players of his experience are typically described as 5th year veterans. As for athletic, maybe so, but if we're talking about pure speed, there are African gazelles not as athletic as Hill.
    I'm simply saying there's a large disparity in who gets criticized on this and many fan boards.
    Oh I agree, but at least at some level, I can understand the thought. For most fans, the expectations of a rookie deem more patience than the slipping unrealized potential of a veteran.
    Fisher gets criticized for not being able to bring down Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin, with fans calling for him to be benched or cut the second he makes a mistake.
    As you know, I'm not of the mindset that Fisher is to be benched (I've openly bowed to the opinion of the coaches), and certainly don't think he needs to be cut. However, I think most fans see it's more than just Boldin burning Fisher. Furrey, Battle, Robinson.....there's several less-than-Boldin receivers that have passed the Fisher test this season.
    But regarding expectations, I would expect fans to hold every player responsible for mistakes they make, not just the one whose name is Travis.
    I agree, but if a fan were to blast Hill at this point, there be no end to the line of fans asking for patience and rightly so. And to make a criticism of the first rounder would, on some level, start the "bust stew" to simmering in the minds of some.....and nobody has a taste for a bowl of that right now.

    I'm not saying your wrong, Nick. Fisher is still one of the top two corners on this team, but as I've said before, that says a lot about the poor state of our corners.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams do the cornerback shuffle

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    For most fans, the expectations of a rookie deem more patience than the slipping unrealized potential of a veteran.
    Agreed, but let's call a spade a spade. A mistake, no matter who it's made by, is costly and should be recognized, not simply written off because of experience or lack there of. There are many players whom I give the benefit of the doubt to in terms of potential and their still learning at the pro level, but that doesn't mean they should be completely immune to criticism when they don't play well either. Yeah, Hill's a rookie and he's going to make mistakes. But those mistakes are costly and need to be looked at and corrected none the less.

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    However, I think most fans see it's more than just Boldin burning Fisher. Furrey, Battle, Robinson.....there's several less-than-Boldin receivers that have passed the Fisher test this season.
    And I'm still waiting for one of those fans to step up to the plate and provide the proof to support that claim. You mentioned a few receivers that have supposedly toasted Fisher, so let's address them.

    FURREY: Mike had 8 catches for 82 yards and 2 TDs against the Rams, a long of 22 yards. Fisher was covering Furrey for a total of three of those catches. His two TDs came against Brown and Hill, and his 22 yard catch came by finding an open hole in the zone on Brown's side. Against Fisher, Furrey had 3 catches for for 33 yards. Modest at best.

    BATTLE: Arnez caught three passes for 78 yards, including a big 56 reception. Fisher covered Battle for two of those catches, limiting him to 22 yards on those plays. Again, modest. The big 56-yarder came against Tye Hill, who slipped in coverage.

    ROBINSON: Koren Robinson had 4 receptions for 42 yards with a long of 14. Travis Fisher, who left the game with groin problems, was covering Robinson for one of them which was a seven yard gain. Fisher also had a defensive holding penalty called on him on a broken blitz play, and had a great deflected pass intended for Donald Driver.

    So if most fans are pointing to those receivers to show that Fisher isn't playing well, then they need to go back and take a closer look at what actually happened against those receivers.
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    Re: Rams do the cornerback shuffle

    Agreed, but let's call a spade a spade. A mistake, no matter who it's made by, is costly and should be recognized, not simply written off because of experience or lack there of. There are many players whom I give the benefit of the doubt to in terms of potential and their still learning at the pro level, but that doesn't mean they should be completely immune to criticism when they don't play well either. Yeah, Hill's a rookie and he's going to make mistakes. But those mistakes are costly and need to be looked at and corrected none the less.
    I'm not disagreeing with you, just explaining why most give Hill more rope at this point than Fisher.
    had a great deflected pass intended for Donald Driver.
    Yea, that was nice. I liked that one too.

    So really, did you go back to the video and look at all those plays, or did you find some seriously sweet stats page?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams do the cornerback shuffle

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    So really, did you go back to the video and look at all those plays, or did you find some seriously sweet stats page?
    Video. If there was a stat page that detailed, I don't think I'd ever leave it.
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    Re: Rams do the cornerback shuffle

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Agreed, but let's call a spade a spade. A mistake, no matter who it's made by, is costly and should be recognized, not simply written off because of experience or lack there of. There are many players whom I give the benefit of the doubt to in terms of potential and their still learning at the pro level, but that doesn't mean they should be completely immune to criticism when they don't play well either. Yeah, Hill's a rookie and he's going to make mistakes. But those mistakes are costly and need to be looked at and corrected none the less.



    And I'm still waiting for one of those fans to step up to the plate and provide the proof to support that claim. You mentioned a few receivers that have supposedly toasted Fisher, so let's address them.

    FURREY: Mike had 8 catches for 82 yards and 2 TDs against the Rams, a long of 22 yards. Fisher was covering Furrey for a total of three of those catches. His two TDs came against Brown and Hill, and his 22 yard catch came by finding an open hole in the zone on Brown's side. Against Fisher, Furrey had 3 catches for for 33 yards. Modest at best.

    BATTLE: Arnez caught three passes for 78 yards, including a big 56 reception. Fisher covered Battle for two of those catches, limiting him to 22 yards on those plays. Again, modest. The big 56-yarder came against Tye Hill, who slipped in coverage.

    ROBINSON: Koren Robinson had 4 receptions for 42 yards with a long of 14. Travis Fisher, who left the game with groin problems, was covering Robinson for one of them which was a seven yard gain. Fisher also had a defensive holding penalty called on him on a broken blitz play, and had a great deflected pass intended for Donald Driver.

    So if most fans are pointing to those receivers to show that Fisher isn't playing well, then they need to go back and take a closer look at what actually happened against those receivers.

    This is why I love Nick, I don't always agree with him but he gives you facts and solid reasons for his opions. Everbody needs to look at the non existing pass rush the front four have created. It wont matter who is back there if we dont pressure the QB. We will need a solid pass rush on sunday or will be in big trouble.:\

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