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  1. #1
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    Rams Inside Slant

    Rams Inside Slant

    Special teams will surely be a focus when the Rams open training camp, and for good reason. In special teams rankings compiled by the Dallas Morning News, the Rams not only ranked last in the NFL, but it wasn't even close.
    The newspaper takes 22 categories and assigns points for each team, so that a team that ranked first gets one point and the team that is last receives 32 points. The Rams' total of 556.5 points was the worst in the 17 years that the Morning News has done the rankings. In fact, the Rams were the only team to ever have a score of 500 or more. The previous high was Cincinnati's 499.5 in 2003. Minnesota, which ranked 31st last year, had 88.5 fewer points than the Rams.

    In the 22 categories, the Rams' average rank was 25th. Ironically, the team ranked first in 2004 was the Buffalo Bills, with 232 points. The Bills' special teams are coached by Bobby April, who left the Rams for Buffalo after the 2003 season.

    So now, the Rams' units are in the hands of Bob Ligashesky, who becomes the fourth special teams coach in the six years that Mike Martz has been head coach. Two of Martz's coaches - Larry Pasquale in 2000 and Mike Stock in 2004 - lasted only one season.

    However, Ligashesky, who came to the Rams from being assistant special teams coach in Jacksonville, said he doesn't worry about what happened before him with coaches.

    "I didn't really think about that," he said. "You really think about more that it's an opportunity to become part of a successful organization."

    Martz believes he has found the right guy, saying, "He's high-energy. I think the approach and the way he goes about it, the attention to details, is very significant. It's a marked difference."

    Of course, Martz has said similar things in the past.

    After hiring Pasquale in Feb. 2000, he said, "The guy we've got now, he's the best in the league."

    When April was hired to replace Pasquale the following year, Martz said, "In my estimation, he's the best in the game at what he does. Bobby loves what he does. He has a great passion for what he does, and he's a great communicator and teacher with the players."

    Then, after bringing in Stock to replace April, Martz said, "It was a no-brainer for us. He came so highly recommended, that I felt like we had to get him in. He's exactly what I'm looking for."

    But, there's no question the emphasis is different this year. Martz also hired a special teams assistant for the first time, Charles Bankins. And after the draft, Martz admitted that previous personnel evaluation didn't take into account special teams ability.

    "That's a mistake I've made in the past when we've gone after defensive players," Martz said. "We've spent so much time looking for ability only on defense, but really didn't go into the next phase of that. You have to be equally significant on special teams."

    At the team's mandatory minicamp, there were often three different phases of special teams being worked on at the same time.

    As safety Mike Furrey said, "We're not devoting any more time on the field than we have in the past. But the difference is we're utilizing the time better. We've never had position-specific practices before. We just all went on the same field at the same time and worked on 'special teams' as if everything we do is the same. But now we have the linemen working on PAT protection and the rush. We have the gunners working on their techniques, and we have the coverage and return people working on their thing."

    Ligashesky said there is no magic in having good special teams. It's a simple matter of "Let's get the best players for that phase out of the 53 and let's go." While noting that 20 percent of the plays in a game come on special teams, he concluded, "It all starts with attitude and belief in its importance. The players have to buy into what you're doing, and then it's executing the technique and then being able to adjust as situations occur."

    CAMP CALENDAR: The entire team reports July 27, with the first practice the next morning. The Rams will work at their home facility after nine summers at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill. There will be a night scrimmage Aug. 6 at Washington University and camp "breaks" on Aug. 19.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    óRams coach Mike Martz had several positives from the offseason that he is excited about as training camp approaches.

    Said Martz, "A couple of interesting things have happened. No. 1, (former wide receiver) Mike Furrey on defense, we felt good about putting him over there (at safety) and what he might be able to do. From what we've seen in the offseason so far, I think he's worth getting excited about.

    "Tony Hargrove at defensive end ... I think between Tony Hargrove and Leonard Little, with all the issues that Leonard had to live with and Tony kind of going through some things in his personal life that he's been able to fight through, these guys now have matured. With all these distractions gone, I think those two guys as a pair could be significant.

    "The other guy on defense would be (tackle) Jimmy Kennedy. I think that he could be absolutely devastating inside for us."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "In terms of potential and upside, this young man has it. If he had been playing tight end more than he had been, I think he would have been a very high choice. When you start talking technique a lot of it he didn't understand because he had never done it. He has been a tight end for six months; with that part of it there is some work to be done there." - Tight ends coach Frank Falks on rookie Jerome Collins, who played just one season at tight end in college.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

    QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Marc Bulger. Backups - Jamie Martin, Jeff Smoker, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    RUNNING BACKS: Starters - HB Steven Jackson, FB Joey Goodspeed. Backups - HB Marshall Faulk, HB Arlen Harris, HB Aveion Cason, FB Madison Hedge****, FB Chris Massey, FB Nick Burley.

    TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Brandon Manumaleuna. Backups - Roland Williams, Erik Jensen, Jerome Collins.

    WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce. Backups - Kevin Curtis, Shaun McDonald, Dane Looker, Dante Ridgeway, Michael Coleman, Brandon Middleton, Dominique Thompson, Dominic Robinson, Jeremy Carter.

    OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - LT Orlando Pace, LG Rex Tucker, C Andy McCollum, RG Adam Timmerman, RT Alex Barron. Backups - T Grant Williams, T/G Blaine Saipaia, T/G Scott Tercero, C/G Larry Turner, G Darnell Alford, T Matt Morgan, G Claude Terrell, G Zach Bray, C Toby Cecil, G Richie Incognito.

    DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - DLE Leonard Little, NT Ryan Pickett, DT Jimmy Kennedy, DRE Anthony Hargrove. Backups - T/E Tyoka Jackson, DLE Vontrell Jamison, DLE Brandon Green, DRE Clifford Dukes, NT Damione Lewis, DT Brian Howard, DT Jeremy Calahan, DT Matt McChesney.

    LINEBACKERS: Starters - SLB Pisa Tinoisamoa, MLB Chris Claiborne, WLB Dexter Coakley. Backups - OLB Brandon Chillar, MLB Trev Faulk, MLB Robert Thomas, OLB Jeremy Loyd, OLB Drew Wahlroos, OLB Louis Ayeni.

    DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Jerametrius Butler, RCB Travis Fisher, SS Adam Archuleta, FS Michael Stone. Backups - CB DeJuan Groce, CB Kevin Garrett, CB Dwight Anderson, CB Ronald Bartell, CB Terry Fair, CB Corey Ivy, CB Duvol Thompson, S Michael Hawthorne, S Mike Furrey, S Jerome Carter, S Oshiomogho Atogwe.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: K Jeff Wilkins, P Reggie Hodges, LS Chris Massey, KR Arlen Harris, KR Aveion Cason, PR Shaun McDonald, PR DeJuan Groce.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Rams Inside Slant

    see they have Alex Barron back as a starter?


  3. #3
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    Re: Rams Inside Slant

    Nice observation. I usually don't check that section out, but in this instance, that's a very solid piece of info. Implies the demotion to the second team offense was more of a for-the-moment thing for that minicamp, assuming this isn't just projected or something. They also have Michael Stone listed as the starting FS, which has me a bit worried.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Rams Inside Slant

    Considering the team hasn't even seen O.J. Atogwe on the field yet, I'm not too concerned about the depth chart.

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams Inside Slant

    OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - LT Orlando Pace, LG Rex Tucker, C Andy McCollum, RG Adam Timmerman, RT Alex Barron.
    Wait a minute...this can't be right! But Martz made him a starter, then demoted him, making Martz the biggest freakin' idiot in the world. How can he be the starter....Barron is a 1st round bust, everybody knows it. Martz has to be an idiot.....you can't hang, you can't hang, you can't hang, I'm the illegitimate child of Joe Montana and Steve Young...waaaa, waaaaa, waaaa, go niners!

    Thank you for tuning into another episode of "What would mikey say".
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  6. #6
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    Re: Rams Inside Slant

    Ironically, the team ranked first in 2004 was the Buffalo Bills, with 232 points. The Bills' special teams are coached by Bobby April, who left the Rams for Buffalo after the 2003 season.
    This just goes to show, our problem on ST has nothing to do with coaching or schemes, it's the players. If you don't devote some talent to ST, you're not going to get good results regardless of who's coaching.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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