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    Rams find Goodspeed at fullback

    Rams find Goodspeed at fullback
    One of many to try for open spot in '03
    BY STEVE KORTE
    skorte@bnd.com

    MACOMB - St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz jokingly compared his team's carousel of fullbacks last season to the variety of tastes offered at an ice cream shop.

    "We had 31 flavors," Martz said. "We were taking tickets at the window. No. 26 is next, please."

    After trying 10 different players at fullback last season, the Rams finally found a flavor they liked in third-year player Joey Goodspeed.

    Martz went as far as saying that the 6-foot-1, 247-pound Goodspeed could turn out to be a better fullback than James "The Hammer" Hodgins, who was released in a salary cap move before the start of free agency in 2003.

    "I think he might be the best fullback we've had," Martz said. "I feel confident about that. I'm just very, very high on Joey. He's never come out here and practiced poorly or had a bad day or made a bunch of mental mistakes. He catches the ball, he's smart, he's a pro. He's what you want all of your guys to be. I couldn't be more pleased with Joey."

    Goodspeed, 26, joined the Rams on Oct. 28 last year. The Notre Dame product solidified a starting job with a pancake block on All-Pro middle linebacker Brian Uhrlacher that enabled Marshall Faulk to break loose for a 52-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play in the Rams' 23-21 comeback win over the Bears on Nov. 16.

    Goodspeed ended up playing in eight games, including four starts at fullback.

    "Last season was a blur," Goodspeed said. "My mind wasn't fully on football. My mind was elsewhere."

    Goodspeed was cut by the San Diego Chargers after their final preseason game last year. Goodspeed said losing his job was actually a blessing in disguise.

    "My father was really sick, so I was home taking care of him and taking care of the family," Goodspeed said. "I was fortunate to get released. I was able to spend my dad's last weeks at home with him."

    Goodspeed said it was bittersweet for him to finally earn a starting job in the NFL after his father's death.

    "That was hard for me last year, finally being a starter in the NFL, something that he has always wanted to see," Goodspeed said. "He got to see me play a little bit in San Diego, so I guess I've got that going for me."

    Goodspeed said he was aware of the Rams' struggle in finding a replacement for Hodgins.

    "I heard they went through a lot of guys," Goodspeed said. "Fullback is not an easy position. We take some brutal hits out there. I don't know what they were trying to do last year. I remember I was sitting at home and my agent was calling me and kind of *****ing and moaning about how they don't have a fullback and why aren't they signing me."

    The Rams now see Goodspeed as an indispensable part of their offense.

    "Joey is a guy you can take for granted very easily, but he is absolutely in the center of everything we do offensively," Martz said. "He has come back mentally way ahead of everything. He's a fanatical workout guy. He's been a big plus for us since we added him last year."

    Goodspeed added eight pounds of muscle over the offseason to help him handle the pounding that comes from being primarily a blocker.

    "That's what I am here for -- to block for Marshall or block for Arlen Harris, Steven Jackson or Lamar Gordon, and to protect Marc Bulger," Goodspeed said. "I know my role."

    In the Rams' offense, it's a rarity for the fullback to touch the ball.

    Goodspeed has yet to carry the ball on a running play for the Rams. He has one reception -- a 9-yard catch that helped set up a 20-yard field goal in the first quarter of the Rams' playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers.

    Goodspeed said he wouldn't mind getting his hands on the ball every once in a while.

    "I am doing so much blocking, giving the dog a bone every now and then would be kind of nice," Goodspeed said.

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    Re: Rams find Goodspeed at fullback

    Ramming speed for Joey! :ramlogo:
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
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