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    Rams, Hall Happy to Have Each Other

    Rams, Hall Happy to Have Each Other
    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Surrounded by a trio of reports, quietly answering questions about his offseason move to St. Louis, James Hall is clearly a happy camper. It doesn’t take long to realize, though, that Hall isn’t the happiest person in this hallway.

    Suddenly, a voice booms “Thank God for James Hall.” The voice is filled with enthusiasm and joy. It’s the voice of fellow defensive end Leonard Little.

    And why shouldn’t Little be happy to have Hall in the building? Considering the number of tag team partners that have come and gone on the end opposite Little in recent years, any sign of stability would be enough to excite the Rams’ star pass rusher.

    “Oh yeah, we were both happy about it,” Hall said. “We know we have to take advantage of the situation and that’s going to be a big part of the success of the defense.”

    Success on defense is something that has been few and far between in recent seasons. Despite some advances made last season, particularly in the final three games, that unit has had some weaknesses that have been exploited over the past few years.

    One of those weaknesses has been a lack of a productive end opposite Little. Despite the lack of a running mate, Little has continued to perform at a high level, posting 13 sacks last season with a group consisting of talented, but raw rookie Victor Adeyanju, enigmatic Anthony Hargrove and Brandon Green on the opposite end. That group combined for just two sacks in 2006.

    Although Little has still been able to perform at a high level without a true pass rushing threat on the other end, he welcomed the idea of getting someone who can provide a consistent pass rush on the other end and, more important, free him up so he isn’t always being blocked by multiple players from multiple angles.

    “I think he will bring a lot of what Leonard brings to the other side to the table,” coach Scott Linehan said. “Maybe a little different style, but he is still a guy that has got that speed to pass rush and is a very willing run defender. I think he can be really good for us.”

    With that in mind, the Rams made finding a pass rushing end to pair with Little one of their top priorities in the offseason. In a free agent market that was supposed to be flush with defensive ends, the Rams never got the opportunity to make a play for any of the available talent as teams re-signed or franchised their best players.

    So, the Rams turned to the trade market in search of an answer. Fortunately for them, Hall had ensured his presence on the trade market by asking for a trade from Detroit in January.

    “I didn’t get the feel that the organization was going in the right direction,” Hall said. “I asked for it.”

    Hall had grown tired of his time with the Lions because he simply got tired of all of the losses. In Hall’s seven years in Detroit, the Lions were 33-79. Things were so bad that Hall couldn’t even stand to watch the playoffs because the Lions hadn’t even really been close to the postseason.

    Finally, on March 2, the eve of free agency, Hall was dealt to the Rams for a fifth-round draft choice.

    “I was elated when it happened and even more happy to come here and get an opportunity to play for a team that has a chance to go to the playoffs and do even more,” Hall said.

    In Hall, the Rams were getting a player capable of a pass rush, but also one with a bit of injury history. After attempting to dive and make a tackle on a quarterback, Hall landed awkwardly on his shoulder, popping it out of place and tearing it.

    Detroit put Hall on the injured reserve list on Nov. 9, ending his season. Unfortunately for Hall, the injury interrupted one of his best seasons. To that point, he had racked up five sacks in just seven games, including a three-sack effort against Buffalo and a sack against the Rams.

    That performance did enough to make an impression on Linehan, who coveted Hall before based on seeing him twice a year when Linehan was offensive coordinator at Minnesota.

    Also helping Hall’s cause in St. Louis was his previous relationship with defensive line coach Brian Baker. Baker coached Hall in Detroit in 2000 and saw him multiple times coaching Minnesota from 2001 to 2005.

    While it remains to be seen whether Hall will indeed be the long term answer that fills the spot that hasn’t performed since Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher, it’s clear that he at least has the potential to get the job done.

    For his career, Hall has posted 33 sacks; including a career best 11.5 in 2004. Although Hall doesn’t possess the explosive speed and moves of Little, his style isn’t terribly different. He says he uses a combination of speed and power moves to get to the quarterback depending on who lines up across from him.

    Regardless of whether there was some divine intervention that brought Hall to St. Louis, he is just trying to come in and do what it takes to help the Rams win and the defense to get where it wants to go.

    “I just want to be productive,” Hall said. “And make plays as much as I can and help take our front four to another level.”


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    Re: Rams, Hall Happy to Have Each Other

    It doesn’t take long to realize, though, that Hall isn’t the happiest person in this hallway.

    Suddenly, a voice booms “Thank God for James Hall.” The voice is filled with enthusiasm and joy. It’s the voice of fellow defensive end Leonard Little.
    Good stuff...

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