He had grown accustomed to starting during most of his career in the NFL. But at the age of 35, Todd Steussie knows he can't be choosy if he wants to keep playing. So, he signed a one-year contract with the Rams as a backup tackle behind Orlando Pace and Alex Barron, but before he knew it, there he was lining up with the first unit in minicamp at left guard because Claude Terrell was unable to practice because of a wrist injury.
"It's maybe working outside the comfort zone a little bit, but ... wherever they need me, I'm willing to go," Steussie said of playing guard.

He also understands his role as a probable backup.

"You maybe don't get to compete as much on Sunday, but I enjoy the locker room, I enjoy the guys, I enjoy the competition during the week," he said. "I had some guys that when I first got in the league were able to advance my understanding of the game a lot quicker, and if that's my role on this team, I'll be happy to do it.

"It's an opportunity to continue a career that has changed a little bit over the years. But it's still a lot of fun, and I enjoy it quite a bit."

Steussie was with Tampa Bay last season, but while playing in every game, he didn't start any. He could have stayed with the Bucs, but said, "They had a youth movement going on; the locker room was starting to look a little crowded. I saw a better opportunity here."

He also liked the fact that new Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau was his position coach for two years with the Carolina Panthers.

"I've always had a lot of respect for him," Steussie said. "From the moment I played under him at Carolina, we saw eye to eye technique-wise. What he preaches is what I do."

In his first 10 seasons with Minnesota and Carolina, Steussie started 159 of a possible 160 regular-season games. So, pardon him, if he admits to taking a while getting used to not starting.

"That was a humbling experience," he said. "But in a lot of ways, to be humbled is probably a positive thing in the long run. Adversity is where most of life's lessons are learned.

"I feel like I still could start if given the opportunity. But it's also a game where coaches are always looking for the younger guy to develop. And I understand that. But if I'm given the opportunity to play, I plan to make the most of it."


-Undrafted free-agent wide receiver Clinton Solomon impressed coaches at the team's rookie minicamp, and also stood out because he's 6-3, 214 pounds.

Said Solomon, who went to Iowa, "I'm going to pick every person's brain that I can, stay in the playbook and learn as much as I can. What a great opportunity I have, to be around Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Just to learn from those guys, to work on technique and mechanics, I couldn't be in a better situation."

*During the recent rookie minicamp, there was a celebrity sighting at Rams Park when actor Denzel Washington toured the facility. Washington's son, John David, has been signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent.

The younger Washington traveled with his father to Atlanta so he could attend hgis graduation at Morehouse College, and after missing a morning workout was back on the field for the afternoon work.

-With OTAs beginning, rookies are working out with the veterans. Rams first-round pick Tye Hill is humble, noting the veterans with experience ahead of him on the depth chart.

"If I don't start, I'm not going to be mad," Hill said. "I want to play, but I can't rush it. Nobody came looking at me like I'm going to take their job or anything like that. They're veterans; they know what they're doing. I'm looking for them to give me some tutelage."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm very proud of it, but that's the past," he said. "None of those tackles count in the NFL." - Rookie linebacker Tim McGarigle on the NCAA record 545 career tackles he had while at Northwestern.




UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: P Bryan Barker; RB Aveion Cason; CB Terry Fair; OG Tom Nutten; TE Roland Williams.


EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: CB Dwight Anderson; DT Jeremy Calahan; S Dwaine Carpenter; TE Jerome Collins; DE Clifford Dukes; LB Mike Goolsby.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: WR Isaac Bruce; WR Kevin Curtis; DE Brandon Green; CB DeJuan Groce; LS Chris Massey; WR Shaun McDonald; OG Blaine Saipaia; QB Jeff Smoker; LB Drew Wahlroos.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: CB Fakhir Brown; S Corey Chavous; RB Tony Fisher; QB Gus Frerotte; DT La'Roi Glover; WR Brad Pyatt; FB Paul Smith; LB Raonall Smith; OT Todd Steussie; P Matt Turk; LB Will Witherspoon.

PLAYERS LOST: S Adam Archuleta; LB Chris Claiborne; S Mike Furrey; RB Arlen Harris; CB Corey Ivy; DE Tyoka Jackson; CB Chris Johnson; DT Damione Lewis; LB Jeremy Loyd; TE Brandon Manumaleuna; QB Jamie Martin; OT Matt Morgan; NT Ryan Pickett; OL Rex Tucker.