Rams Notebook: Bartell's versatility is paying dividends
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Friday, Dec. 22 2006
A second-round draft pick in April 2005, Ron Bartell might have finally found
his home with the Rams — a mobile home.
Bartell has traveled from position to position during his two NFL seasons, and
now his versatility is arguably his No. 1 asset. "Cornerback, safety, nickel
back ... I pride myself on being able to do a lot of things," said Bartell, who
also is a busy special-teams performer.
Bartell, a product of NCAA Division I-AA Howard University, has been coming in
recently as the fifth defensive back in passing situations, assigned to cover
the slot receiver.
"I've never done it before, and it takes an adjustment," he said. "I think the
hardest part is just playing the zone coverages, trying to read the routes and
being a part of run game also."
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Bartell is "learning on the run. That,
to me, is a hard, hard position to play. But I think he's responded very well."
Because of injuries, Bartell, 24, started the final seven games last year at
cornerback, amassing 36 tackles, nine pass breakups and two forced fumbles. In
the spring, Haslett and new head coach Scott Linehan decided to move him to
Since then, however, he's bounced back and forth as the need arises on the
depth chart. Bartell's size — 6 feet 1 and 208 pounds — is an obvious asset,
and it showed Sunday at Oakland, when he leaped high to snare his first career
"A lot of the nickel backs in this league are 5-8 to 5-10, good blitzers, but
maybe don't have the size of a corner," Linehan said. "Here's a guy over 6 feet
with long arms. I'm sure the quarterback thought he threw the ball over him,
and (Bartell) reached out and grabbed the ball."
The interception and 16-yard return early in the fourth quarter gave the Rams
possession at the Raiders' 19-yard line. Running back Steven Jackson bolted
into the end zone on the next play, the final tally in a 20-0 victory.
Bartell's development is beginning to support his stature as a No. 50 overall
"He's extremely bright, he's a top-notch character kid, and he's really
starting to mature," Linehan said.
Nearly five weeks after surgery on a torn triceps muscle in his left arm, left
tackle Orlando Pace reports progress on his long road to recovery.
"It's coming along pretty well," he said. "I'm just trying to get the range of
motion down, week by week increasing it."
Pace wears a large brace that not only provides support but also measures his
improvement. "They have a gauge on there, and once I get it to 90 degrees, then
I'll be fine" to begin more intense rehab, he said.
Although Pace's seven-year run of Pro Bowl appearances was scuttled by the
injury, he said the promising play of the Rams' group of young offensive
linemen makes him eager to get back to the trenches. "It does, man, it does,"
Pace said. "Just watching those guys (vs. the Raiders), they worked hard, they
finished their blocks. I think they did pretty good."
With 59 yards on four catches at Oakland, wideout Torry Holt topped the
1,000-yard mark for the seventh consecutive season. He's 256 short of pushing
his string of 1,300-yard seasons to seven. ... Jackson's three-year total of
2,955 rushing yards puts him 11th in franchise history.
Re: Rams Notebook: Bartell's versatility is paying dividends