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  1. #1
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    Rams stand pat at tight end position

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Aug. 30 2004

    The Rams had the help-wanted sign out for much of the offseason, with no fewer
    than 10 tight ends under contract at one time or another.

    But four of those players never made it to training camp; two others have been
    cut since training camp started. Which leaves the Rams with four candidates at
    the position - and two familiar names in Brandon Manumaleuna and Cam Cleeland.

    The Rams basically are standing pat at the position in 2004, hoping that
    another year in the system will benefit Manumaleuna and Cleeland.

    "You can't come in and do it one year," tight ends coach Frank Falks said.
    "It's not that type of system. It's a great system, but you have to be in it
    for a while to understand all the nuances of it."

    The Rams are hoping this is the year for Manumaleuna, otherwise they wouldn't
    have matched Carolina's five-year, $8.3 million offer sheet to him as a
    restricted free agent last March. Even though he's entering his fourth NFL
    season, Manumaleuna is only 24. That, in part, explains the team's patient
    approach.

    "Brandon is practicing and actually playing with the passion that we would like
    to see him play with," Falks said. "His techniques are way above last year. His
    intensity is above last year. He's practicing physical. And playing physical.

    "I think he can be as good as there is in the league in terms of being an
    all-around tight end - at the line of scrimmage and receiving. And I think he's
    starting to push towards that point."

    An unrestricted free agent entering the offseason, Cleeland didn't re-sign with
    the Rams until early June. After an impressive first week of training camp, he
    missed most of the next three weeks with a hamstring injury, returning to make
    his exhibition debut Friday against Washington.

    "He has come back after the hamstring and moved very well," Falks said. "He's
    very confident in what he's doing... He's a different guy than last year."

    With Manumaleuna and Cleeland givens on the final roster, undrafted rookie Mike
    Brake is the leading candidate for the No. 3 tight-end spot. Although drafted
    as a tight end, seventh-rounder Erik Jensen has been practicing at fullback for
    much of camp. But if the Rams decide to keep Jensen over Brake, Jensen should
    be able to handle the Rams' "move" tight-end position as well.

    "The position he plays at fullback carries over to one of the tight end
    positions," Falks said. "So he could easily play them both - go in the ballgame
    and execute at either position."

    Brake, who played college ball at Akron, has been a pleasant training camp
    surprise so far.

    "The first time I saw him, I thought there was something about him, and he
    hasn't proven me wrong," Falks said. "He's got something about him, whether it
    be this year or next year, that's going to really surface, and he's going to be
    a good player in this league."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Tight ends at a glance


    Monday, Aug. 30 2004

    Tight ends in camp: 4

    Likely to make final roster: 3

    Safe and sound: Cam Cleeland, Brandon Manumaleuna

    On the bubble: Mike Brake, Erik Jensen (*).

    (*) - Drafted as a tight end, Jensen has been working at fullback much of camp.

    Rosters must be trimmed to 65 today, and to 53 on Sunday.


  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams stand pat at tight end position

    I wonder if the Rams will be able to keep both Brake and Jensen on the roster, or if one of them will have to be moved to the practice squad.
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  3. #3
    tanus is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams stand pat at tight end position

    one of them will hopefully land on the practice squad assuming someone else doesnt pick up whichever one gets cut.

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