Rams rookie Hargrove sees position switch as just another challenge
BY STEVE KORTE
Knight Ridder Newspapers

ST. LOUIS - (KRT) - As a rookie, Anthony Hargrove wasn`t going to argue when St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz told him that he was moving from defensive end to defensive tackle.

"I`m not going to say, `This (stinks). I`m not going to do this,"" Hargrove said. "I just see it as another challenge. Survival of the fittest, that`s what the NFL is about. Those who adapt to new situations are going to stay in this league the longest. If I adapt to this new challenge, I hope it keeps me in the league longer."

Hargrove, a third-round draft choice this past spring, said he actually welcomes the switch if it enables him to make a bigger contribution this season.

The Rams are set at defensive end with Leonard Little, Bryce Fisher, Sean Moran, Tyoka Jackson and Erik Flowers, but they`re short-handed at defensive tackle with Jimmy Kennedy likely lost for the season because of a broken foot.

"Coach Martz told me in a meeting two days ago," Hargrove said. "He thinks with the way I come off the ball and the way I play, that`s a natural fit for me. I`m happy to take the challenge. I think it`s going to be a real comfortable move."

Hargrove is working behind starter Damione Lewis at the three-technique position.

"The biggest thing is that at defensive end you have the space to make moves," Hargrove said. "At defensive tackle when you come off the ball, the guy is into you already. Now it`s a matter of using my quickness to make moves off my first step instead of maybe my third or fourth one."

Hargrove knows he needs to put on a few pounds - he currently weighs 280 pounds - to play defensive tackle.

"Oh, definitely," Hargrove said. "Coach Martz said I could get up to 290 or 295 and carry it fine. They`re asking me to bulk up a little more."

Jackson, the Rams defensive captain, said moving Hargrove to defensive tackle makes a lot of sense.

"He`s 6-4, 285 pounds, and he`s probably the strongest dude on the team and he`s probably as fast as Leonard (Little), so, yeah, I`m cool with that," Jackson said. "He just wants to play. That`s the type of attitude he has. He`s going to make mistakes because he is a rookie, but he is going to make plays, too."

It`s been a tumultuous week for Hargrove, whose family`s house in Punta Gorda, Fla., was destroyed by Hurricane Charley.

Hargrove was on the telephone with his brother last Friday when the hurricane hit.

"Hearing him screaming and hearing my family in the background going hysterical; it was crazy," Hargrove said.

After clearing it with Rams player programs director Ray Ogas, Hargrove rushed home to see his family.

Hargrove`s ordeal wasn`t over yet as he was unable to contact his family or girlfriend due to the power outages in the Sunshine State.

Finally, after exchanging radio transmissions with his brothers, Hargrove located his family.

Hargrove said the damage to his hometown was so extensive that he didn`t recognize the neighborhood where he grew up.

"It`s a real humble place," Hargrove said. "You ride through the city and you can just see everybody`s just sad and hurt. I rode down the highway, you could see people bringing bodies out, and you`re thinking that could`ve been loved ones."