Rams Are Hurting For Cornerbacks
Rams are hurting for cornerbacks
BY BILL COATS
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
He's 36 years old, he suffered a severe injury to his left knee in November 2009, and has been cut by two teams since then. But the beat-up Rams may need Al Harris in a big way next Monday night.
Harris and Justin King are the only cornerbacks still standing after Sunday's 31-13 season-opening loss to Philadelphia. Starters Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher were hurt, and Bartell might be done for the season because of neck fractures. Fletcher is day-to-day with a sprained toe, coach Steve Spagnuolo said Monday.
The club, which lost cornerbacks Jerome Murphy and Dionte Dinkins to season-ending ankle injuries in the preseason, will be searching for cornerback help this week. But for now, Harris and King are the lone options.
"I feel so bad for Bartell," Harris said. "I watched this guy go through training camp, and he's done an excellent job as a young guy. I just hate when guys get hurt. I've been on that side of it."
The 6-foot-1, 194-pound Harris, who was released by Green Bay last November and by Miami after the 2010 season, signed with the Rams in early August. He's been used as the dime back, when six defensive backs are deployed in passing situations.
Now, it's possible he could become an every-down cornerback again. Harris, who started 123 games over 13 previous seasons, including all 102 during seven seasons with Green Bay, assured that he's up to the task.
"I don't think there's anyone in the league that's thinking that I can't be an every-down guy," Harris said. "I don't mean to sound cocky, because I'm not that at all, but this is what I do. So if it's needed, that's exactly why I'm here."
His knee was tested during the grind of training camp, and Harris was pleased with the outcome. "The knee's fine," he said. "If it can hold up through training camp, everything else is downhill from there. ... It's time to go out and play."
King, 5-11 and 197 pounds, was used as the nickel back vs. the Eagles. He's started eight games in three seasons with the Rams and was limited to eight games last year because of a knee injury.
A fourth-round draft pick out of Penn State in 2008, King said he's ready to move to the outside if necessary. "I feel comfortable playing corner; that's what I learned to play first," he said. "I learned how to play nickel back here. I'm pretty sure I can handle it."
Danny Amendola's dislocated elbow has opened up a position in the wide receiver corps. Rookie Austin Pettis and Danario Alexander were among the inactives Sunday.
"We'll just continue to prepare like every receiver across the board is going to play and let the coaches make those decisions," said Pettis, a third-round draftee from Boise State.
Pettis is itching for a shot. "Very much so," he said. "You definitely want to go out there and play. ... I think I can produce. I'm getting more comfortable as the days go by in this offense, and I think we all are. I'm just going to keep trying to work hard and work my way onto the field."
QUINN READY TO GO
The omission of speedy defensive end Robert Quinn, the team's first-round draft pick, from the 46-man active roster was a surprise to some, especially considering the need to pressure evasive quarterback Michael Vick.
Spagnuolo explained that he decided to dress eight defensive linemen: four tackles and four ends. The ends were starters James Hall and Chris Long, plus C.J. Ah You and Eugene Sims.
"I think the four ends that are in front of (Quinn) are pretty good," Spagnuolo said. Spagnuolo also pointed out that Quinn has had "basically five weeks of football" since December 2009, when the NCAA suspended him permanently for accepting illegal benefits.
"He didn't play at all last year, didn't have the OTAs" in the spring, Spagnuolo said. "It's not an indictment on him at all."
Quinn took the move in stride.
"Of course everybody wants to play," he said. "All I could really do was support my teammates. It's a team sport, and that's the way you have to look at it."
Cadillac Williams had 140 yards of total offense (91 rushing, 49 receiving), a total topped by only two other running backs Sunday: Chicago's Matt Forte, 158 (68 rushing, 90 receiving), and Baltimore's Ray Rice, 149 (107 rushing, 42 receiving). ... Safety Craig Dahl had a team-high eight tackles, according to the coaches' film review. Fletcher and linebacker James Laurinaitis each had six.
Re: Rams Are Hurting For Cornerbacks
Can't wait to see the mighty Quinn on MNF. I thought he was gonna play last week, he could've helped. With him and Long as bookends, the Rams D line should be able to do more damage.
Who's out there at CB that the Rams can go after?