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Rams Notes: Looker faces many challengers
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, Aug. 06 2008
NASHVILLE, TENN. The names, faces and even the sites change. But the
challenge at Rams training camp remains the same for Dane Looker. He always
seems to find himself scuffling for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Never mind that over six seasons with the Rams he has been an effective wide
receiver, with 89 catches for 953 yards and three touchdowns. Or that he has
returned punts, kickoffs and served as a holder for extra points and field
Every summer, he has to re-apply for his job. It's no different this year,
especially after the Rams spent two draft picks on wideouts Donnie Avery in
the second round and Keenan Burton in the fourth.
They're almost sure to stick, along with starters Torry Holt and Drew Bennett
and return specialist Dante Hall. That could leave only one spot open between
Looker, Reche Caldwell, Marques Hagans, Derek Stanley and Brandon Williams.
"That's been the situation pretty much ever since I've been here, new guys
coming in," said Looker, 32. "And I think that's what the league's all about,
competition. It breeds intense play."
Looker's play in camp has been as solid as any of the wideouts, including
seven-time Pro Bowler Holt.
"I feel real good about camp ... real good," Looker said. "I try to go out
there every day and work hard, like I've always done, and be smart, learn the
offense, make the right decisions and make plays when I can."
As far as decisions go, determining the final corps of wide receivers figures
to be as tough as any for Scott Linehan. Looker doesn't plan to make it easy.
"Dane's Dane; I don't know any other way to describe him," said Linehan, an
assistant coach at the University of Washington when Looker played there. "The
guy knows every position; he could kick or punt if we had to. He's doing a
great job in the receiver spot, handling all the positions and basically being
ready to step in wherever needed.
"The guy's value, really there's no limit to it. ... I just think he's a
really, really good football player."
And if he's not good enough, Looker vows to step aside gracefully.
"I used to watch the draft real close, and I used to check the guys out when
they came in," he said. "But you know what? I've always felt that if someone's
going to come in and take my spot, if someone's going to outwork me and outplay
me, then all the best to him."
Left tackle Orlando Pace, who is being brought along carefully after last
season's major shoulder injury, took more reps with the first team Tuesday than
any day previously.
"We're going to start pushing that," Linehan said. "He's going to get some good
work in Tennessee too. As we go through it, he's going to be working with the
first unit for the most part."
Avery (pelvis), defensive lineman Victor Adeyanju (finger), tight end Anthony
Becht (hamstring) and cornerback Fakhir Brown (shoulder) remained on the
sideline for Tuesday morning's practice.
Several other players, including safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (hamstring) and guard
Mark Setterstrom (knee), are getting only limited work.
STEVEN JACKSON WATCH
Days out: 12.
Practices missed: 16.
Fine total: $181,392 ($15,116 per day).
The Rams and Tennessee Titans will practice together twice today (at 8:30 a.m.
and 3:30 p.m.), and Thursday (8:15 a.m. special teams only and 3:30 p.m.),
at Baptist Sports Park in Nashville.
All practices are free and open to the public.
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