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Thread: Rams rely on former Cardinals
Rams rely on former Cardinals
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Dec. 30 2007
Since April 2004, Nick Leckey's only home in the NFL had been in the desert.
Arizona drafted him in the fourth round, and he played in 44 games, with 20
starts, over three seasons with the Cardinals.
And then, just like that, he was homeless, released after the first two games
this year. Leckey, a center/guard out of Kansas State, had no inkling that
unemployment was just around the corner.
"I definitely was surprised," he said. "But it's weird: After I did get
released, it's kind of like you see everything and you start looking back, and
you're like, 'Wow, I should've seen it coming.'"
In restructuring its offensive line under new coach Ken Whisenhunt, the Big Red
also parted ways with veterans Milford Brown and Brandon Gorin. All three
eventually made their way to St. Louis, where they unexpectedly became
important contributors on a Rams offensive line that has been devastated by
The ex-Cardinals "bailed us out," coach Scott Linehan said. "They've been able
to fill in very nicely for us."
Filling in has been the watchword all year for the offensive line. Starters
Orlando Pace (shoulder), Richie Incognito (knee) and Mark Setterstrom (knee)
suffered season-ending maladies; versatile backup Adam Goldberg (knee) also
landed on injured reserve. Brett Romberg (ankles) and Todd Steussie (foot)
missed significant time.
Of the five original starters, only Alex Barron has remained healthy. And he's
played most of the season in Pace's spot at left tackle after manning the right
tackle position the previous two seasons.
The Rams (3-12) head into Sunday's finale at Arizona (7-8) having employed 18
line combinations, including 10 different starting lineups.
"I knew the situation when I came in, that they'd had some injuries," said
Gorin, who was a street free agent when he signed Sept. 12. "So, there was
obviously an opportunity there."
Still, he acknowledged that the prospect of spending half the season as the
first-team right tackle ranked as a long shot then. Yet he'll make his eighth
The Cardinals cut Gorin, a seven-year veteran, before he got on the field for
them in a regular-season game. Slowed by offseason surgery for a sports hernia,
he was inactive for 14 games and didn't play in the two others.
The 6-foot-6, 308-pound Gorin had spent the four previous seasons with New
England — he started in Super Bowl XXXIX. He said he wasn't concerned about
sending a message to the Big Red brass, that maybe they gave up on him a bit
"Naw, I don't get into all that," he said. "They have their own personnel
decisions. It's hard on them, and it's hard on us. But it's just part of the
game. I just want to go there, play well, get a victory and end our season on a
Unlike Gorin, Brown had ample opportunity to showcase his skills for the
Cardinals. He started 12 games last year — seven at left guard and five at
right guard. But the incoming coaching staff deemed Brown a probable backup in
2007 and wanted him to take a pay cut. When he declined, he was released.
"I don't have gripes or bad feelings toward anybody. I know it's a business,"
said Brown, 6-5 and 330. "I ended up coming here, and it actually worked out
pretty good for me."
Brown, signed July 29, started three of the first four games at right guard
while Incognito recovered from a high-ankle sprain. When Incognito returned,
Brown slid over to right tackle for three games after Barron moved to the left
side. On Sunday, Brown will make his ninth consecutive start at left guard,
Setterstrom's spot at the start of the year.
In all, Brown will finish the season with 15 starts at three different
positions — a far greater workload than he could've imagined on opening day.
"Not 15," he said, chuckling. "Right tackle, left tackle, left guard ... I'm
just happy to get on the field."
Leckey hasn't seen nearly as much action as Gorin or Brown; he's been among the
inactives for seven of his 11 games here. Still, he was invaluable during a
three-game span near the midpoint of the season, when the injury bug bit
When Incognito hurt his knee in the opening minutes Oct. 28 against Cleveland,
Leckey replaced him at right guard — a position he'd never played as a pro.
Leckey, 6-3 and 291, started there the following two weeks before Steussie
returned from the broken foot he'd sustained in the preseason.
Like Gorin, Leckey isn't interested in retribution on his return to Arizona, no
matter now much he was stung initially. "I was hurt for a little bit," he said,
"but I moved on and now I'm here."
Still, he wouldn't mind earning some Valley of the Sun bragging rights.
"We're going to be playing for certain things, like setting ourselves up for
next season," he said. "But when I'm back home in Arizona, hanging out with
those guys ... it'd be nice to be able to say that we got the last laugh."
Several Rams can break records or achieve milestones Sunday
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Several Rams can break records or achieve milestones Sunday.
If Jeff Wilkins hits his first two extra-point attempts, he will break Jason Elam's NFL record for consecutive extra points. Elam made 371 consecutive extra-point attempts from 1993 to 2002 for Denver.
Punter Donnie Jones is in line to break the Rams' single-season record for gross punting average. He is averaging 47.0 yards per punt; the franchise record is 45.5 yards, set by Danny Villanueva in 1962.
Wide receiver Isaac Bruce needs one touchdown to tie Marshall Faulk's franchise record of 85 career TDs. With one reception against the Cardinals, Bruce will break a tie with Art Monk for sixth place on the NFL's career reception list (940).
Running back Steven Jackson needs 53 yards to reach 1,000 yards rushing, no mean feat considering he missed four games with a groin injury and most of a fifth with a back problem.
That would make it three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons for Jackson. Only Faulk (1999-01) and Eric Dickerson have done that in Rams history.
Re: Rams rely on former CardinalsRams rely on former Cardinals
Re: Rams rely on former CardinalsRunning back Steven Jackson needs 53 yards to reach 1,000 yards rushing, no mean feat considering he missed four games with a groin injury and most of a fifth with a back problem.
Re: Rams rely on former Cardinals
Did Jackson get enough yards today?
Re: Rams rely on former Cardinals
Just. He rushed 18 times for 55 yards. Giving him 1,002 yards I would say.
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