Rams have a 'superb' cornerback
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Tuesday, Apr. 25 2006
Cornerback Fakhir Brown is superb.
Really. He is.
"'Fakhir' means 'superb,'" Brown explained during Rams minicamp over the
weekend. "My father named me."
The Rams obviously hope Brown can play up to his name after signing him to a
five-year, $12 million free-agent contract in March.
"I'm coming here to start," Brown says confidently. "That's what I plan to do -
to be a starter."
That may come as news to incumbents Jerametrius Butler and Travis Fisher.
Fisher has been a primary starter at corner since 2002 but missed 14 games over
the past two seasons because of injuries. Butler missed the entire '05 season
after starting 31 games at cornerback in '03 and '04.
The Rams' signing of Brown is part of a concerted effort to upgrade the
"Obviously, that's been an area of concern based on how they've played as of
late," coach Scott Linehan said. "The thing I like about Fakhir is he's a
competitor. He backs down to nobody.
"He'll come up to bump, has no problem doing it. One of the reasons is he has
nice size (5 feet 11, 197 pounds). He's a guy that has a rare combination of
athleticism, speed and size. The knock on him coming here was he wasn't able to
stay completely healthy."
Born in Detroit, Brown played his high school football in Mansfield (La.), and
stayed in Louisiana for college at Grambling State. After college, he spent a
year in the Canadian Football League with Toronto, then signed with San Diego
in the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 1999. He appeared in 18 games,
including 11 starts for the Chargers over the next two seasons, missing seven
games in 2000 with a shoulder injury.
Cut at the end of the preseason in 2001, Brown spent a year out of football
before landing with New Orleans in 2002. He didn't miss a game in '03 and '04
for the Saints, starting the final 10 contests of '04 at right corner.
At the start of last season, he was considered the Saints' best corner. But
just when it looked as if his career was taking off, he suffered a fluke injury
"I was really trying to make the Pro Bowl," Brown said. "That's what one of my
goals was, but I had the little freak accident."
In practice before the second game of the season, Brown collided with defensive
end Darren Howard, suffering a bone bruise to his left knee.
"They tried to drain it, but it kept flaring back up, so I had to just let it
rest until it healed a little bit," Brown said.
Brown missed the next four games and ended up starting only four times all
season. Compounding matters at midseason was a tendon injury to Brown's thumb
that required surgery in the offseason.
Because of the recovery and rehab time, Brown was more than a little rusty at
"I feel a lot rusty," he said. "Because I wasn't able to work out until I came
Even so, Brown made a good first impression on Linehan.
"You can see he's got a lot of time on the job," Linehan said. "Not any
anxiety. The guy's played."
Even with the down time because of injuries and the year out of football, Brown
still has 74 games and 25 starts on his resume - totals that do not include his
In evaluating Brown before free agency, Linehan said, "All I really needed to
do was watch that (2005) opening game when they played Carolina. When he played
against Steve Smith, he played as good as anyone did all year. And not many
people played very good against Steve Smith last year. . . . That's where he
kind of stood out to me."
Apparently, Brown wasn't on Smith the entire game, because Smith did finish
with eight catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.
Once the free-agency period started, St. Louis was Brown's first - and last -
visit. The fact that three of his former Saints coaches - Jim Haslett, Rick
Venturi and Willy Robinson - are on the Rams' defensive staff helped make St.
Louis an easy choice.
"It was a pretty big influence," Brown said.
Now the challenge is to pick up where he left off before last season's injury,
making 2006 a breakout campaign.
"I hope this will be the year," he said.
Grady Jackson, a free-agent defensive tackle from the Green Bay Packers, paid a
visit to Rams Park on Monday. Contract negotiations could take place later this
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