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  1. #1
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    Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    Wednesday, December 7, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    If ever there was a problem for the Rams defense that stuck out so clearly, it was the unit’s inability to tackle and do the fundamentals against Washington.

    “If you’re a defensive player, you start to play defensive football because you like contact and you like to tackle,” interim coach Joe Vitt said. “It’s the staple of our sport on defense, and if you can’t tackle, you have to go find another profession. You really do. We work on it every day in practice, and with the preseason we’re at, what, game 16 now, and we’re missing tackles face up on somebody? We’re looking them right in the eye and they’re either running over us or running around us. If you can’t tackle, you can’t play.”

    To that end, the Rams are going to do something few teams in the NFL have done. They are going to tackle in practice. St. Louis showed up to Wednesday’s practice in pads and tackled one another for the entirety of the individual drills at the beginning of practice.

    “We need to get better,” Vitt said. “We need to get our pad level down, we need to run the ball better and we are only going to do it by putting pads on.”

    Normally, teams around the league practice in shells, with small shoulder pads, a helmet and shorts as the basic practice gear. That means there is little full contact action with players having to stop short of tackling.

    That method has been tried and true as far as keeping teams healthy and in good shape for games. But that method operates under the assumption that the defense has a good grasp on fundamentals and basics.

    It’s been clear for some time that perhaps the Rams do not have a full grasp of those basics. After Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin shook loose from about six tackles to score a touchdown a little over three weeks ago or again against Washington where it seemed nobody was immune from missing a tackle.

    Rookie cornerback Ron Bartell was hard on himself Wednesday, discussing the team’s numerous miscues. On one play in the second quarter, Bartell seemed to have Washington tight end Chris Cooley wrapped up, but suddenly Cooley broke loose for an 11-yard gain to set up Rock Cartwright’s 52-yard jaunt.

    “It’s just a breakdown in technique, especially with myself,” Bartell said. “I think I missed two tackles I definitely should have made. It’s a breakdown in technique. You have to keep your head up, get the guy up and make the tackle.”

    When Bartell was at Howard he said the team went full pads in practice nearly every day so it has been an adjustment to the NFL where there are fewer players on a roster making it hard to hit on a daily basis for fear of injury.

    But after the events of the past few weeks or even months, it’s time to go back to basics.

    COMINGS AND GOINGS: The Rams made a flurry of roster moves Wednesday, bringing back a pair of familiar faces and officially placing two players on injured reserve with one more apparently on the way.

    Linebacker Dexter Coakley had surgery on his broken leg Wednesday afternoon in St. Louis and has been put on injured reserve officially. In his place, the Rams brought in linebacker Jeremy Loyd.

    Loyd spent the better part of the past two years with the Rams, suffering a shoulder injury before last year before being cut in the final round of cuts this year. Loyd played in 10 games in 2003, finishing fourth on the team with 18 special teams tackles.

    “Jeremy Loyd was with us the year before and tore up his shoulder,” Vitt said.” He really came close to making the team this year; it was nip and tuck all the way. What he does is, he’s an excellent special teams player. The year before I got here, I looked at all the film on him on special teams, he can change direction, he’s a good tackler. He’s going to upgrade our special teams. He’s familiar with the system.”

    The Rams also placed offensive lineman Blaine Saipaia on injured reserve Wednesday after he struggled with continuing effects of a concussion he suffered against Arizona. Saipaia was active last week, but did not play.

    In his place, the Rams brought back cornerback Dwight Anderson, who was with the Rams last year and part of training camp before being released because of disciplinary problems.

    Anderson played in 12 games as a rookie in 2004, finishing with five tackles and 10 special teams tackles.

    “Dwight Anderson, quite frankly, it was kind of a disciplinary thing in training camp,” Vitt said. “If we had the chance to reclaim him off waivers a little bit earlier and re evaluate him and put him in our system he might have made our team.”

    Vitt said one positive about bringing them back is that the Rams won’t have to wait around for either to get back up to speed because of their previous history with the team.

    “Both are natural guys to be on our football team, they know the system, they know the locker room, they know what’s required of them,” Vitt said. “It’s really good to have them both back.”

    One other move expected to go down in the next day or so is the official placement of cornerback Terry Fair on injured reserve because of a neck injury. Fair’s replacement is unknown, but it’s possible that tackle Matt Morgan will be the choice in an effort to replace Saipaia.

    TERRELL’S TEMPER: Don’t be fooled by guard Claude Terrell’s outgoing personality and charming smile.

    “This smile fools people, but when any person gets upset you can see they have a temper,” Terrell said. “Everybody’s got it in them it’s just if it gets displayed or not.”

    Terrell’s temper was displayed in all its glory against Houston a couple weeks ago. After being removed late in the game, Terrell attacked the headsets on the sideline in a way of voicing his displeasure with being taken out.

    “I was fired up I got took out in a crucial part of the game and I just thought I should have been in,” Terrell said. “But that was the coaches’ decision so I just have to take it and run with it.”

    Terrell returned to the starting lineup last week against the Redskins.

    CLAIBORNE BACK TO MINNY: Linebacker Chris Claiborne played for the Vikings in 2003 and 2004 and will have a homecoming of sorts this weekend in Minnesota.

    “We had a lot of talent, but we didn’t get a lot of wins,” Claiborne said. “It was great being there.”

    But Claiborne isn’t spending this week reminiscing about the past.

    “It’s just important that we get what we need to accomplish and not worry about anything else,” Claiborne said.

    INJURY REPORT: The Rams injury report has reached lengthy proportions. Quarterback Marc Bulger (shoulder) and Saipaia are listed as out this week. Obviously Saipaia is out because he is on injured reserve. Fair is listed as questionable, but it’s clear he won’t be ready to go either.

    Others listed as questionable are tackle Alex Barron (thumb), cornerback Travis Fisher (groin) and defensive tackle Brian Howard (concussion). Vitt essentially ruled Barron out for the week because of his thumb surgery.

    “It’s going to be an ongoing process,” Vitt said. “It’s a little more sore than he thought it was going to be. He’s not going to be ready this week obviously and we’ll have to wait and see for Philadelphia.”

    Fisher was to have his groin reevaluated this week and won’t have his status determined until after that. Howard had a concussion and is also day to day.

    Safety Jerome Carter (foot), cornerback DeJuan Groce (hamstring), running back Steven Jackson (ankle), defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (knee) and defensive end Anthony Hargrove (hamstring) are probable. Pickett, Groce and Carter did not miss any of practice.

    Jackson is just sore and should be fine, according to Vitt.


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    They are going to tackle in practice.
    I'm glad they're addressing it.........but it's sad they have to.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    Why address it now and potentially getting someone like Ivy hurt? Who would we play then? The beer man in section 442?

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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    Finally. The season is basically over and this problem has haunted the team long enough. Just think if we had addressed this problem sooner. How different the season might have been.
    The Roman and The Prince. Playmakers until the end.


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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    Hey 39, practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect, and from what I've seen with this bunch I'm not sure it's really going to matter.

    I'm hoping I'm very wrong, but I don't think it's going to have that much of an impact but boy oh boy do I hope I'm wrong.

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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    Why address it now and potentially getting someone like Ivy hurt? Who would we play then? The beer man in section 442?
    What could it hurt? This season is lost, so if we can at least manage a return to fundamentals, I'm for it.......not the getting hurt part, but running the risk that is.
    Perfect practice makes perfect, and from what I've seen with this bunch I'm not sure it's really going to matter.

    I'm hoping I'm very wrong, but I don't think it's going to have that much of an impact but boy oh boy do I hope I'm wrong.
    tx, I agree with you completely, but I'm viewing the rest of this season as a very, very early training camp. So if this helps to separate the wheat from the chaff for next season, so be it.
    Last edited by HUbison; -12-08-2005 at 11:49 AM.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    It seems to me that the team has recently been stressing perfect practices. Officials, tackling, and who knows what else. I love the way that Vitt has apporached this.
    The Roman and The Prince. Playmakers until the end.


  8. #8
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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand why there aren't some live tackling drills in weekly practice as it is. I understand there's the potential for injury, but isn't this like the second year in a row we've seen the Ram coaches have a week of live tackling after poor tackling in a game? Why not just have something like 10-15 minutes at some point during practice, maybe early middle, where you runs some contact stuff to keep them fresh?

    I feel like we see this problem every year, but it takes half the season before we "discover" tackling in practice. I don't want to see anyone get injured, but guys get injured in practice other ways as well, and if they aren't going to practice it and then lose games because of it, then it's not going to matter who's injured because the season will be basically shot.
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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    I for one am surprised they waited this long before deciding to tackle in practice. This is a full contact sport after all. If you are worried about getting hurt, find another profession.

    Vince Lombardi is turning in his grave ! :clanram:
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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    Vitt: "Hey! Pisa! Water sucks! Gatorade is better!"

    Pisa: "What!?!?!"

    Vitt: "Use it on the field!"

    Pisa imagines Vikings offense singing "Oh water sucks, it really really sucks!!!!!!!!"

  11. #11
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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    desperate times calls for desperate measures...

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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    Does the phrase "The Horse has left the barn" mean anything to anyone in this context?

    ramming speed to all, keep ike and sign big grease

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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Wagoner

    “If you’re a defensive player, you start to play defensive football because you like contact and you like to tackle,” interim coach Joe Vitt said. “It’s the staple of our sport on defense, and if you can’t tackle, you have to go find another profession. You really do. We work on it every day in practice, and with the preseason we’re at, what, game 16 now, and we’re missing tackles face up on somebody? We’re looking them right in the eye and they’re either running over us or running around us. If you can’t tackle, you can’t play.”
    This really should go without saying. The question I have is what was Vittless looking at in preseason as LB coach? They were tacking then and not now?

    If they weren't tackling then, why keep them? If they were tackling then, but not now, why keep them now? Ivy may have made some mistakes over the course of the season, but you could see all the way back in preseason that he wanted to put his nose in the middle
    of a pool of blood.

    You don't need to practice tackling at this point. You need to release those who aren't tackling as a message to those that should be doing it more painfully.

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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    So how do we practice those gaping holes our defense leaves during running plays ? How do we practice our smallish linebacker not getting pummeled by offensive linemen? How do we practice our rookie safety closing his eyes before going for a tackle? How do we practice getting no pressure on the qb? Our tackling has been abismal at times but those problems above are our real troubles on defesne. We just get pushed around by everyone.
    Just Fix It

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    Re: Rams Take Steps to Solve Tackling Issues

    Weeks late Coaching Staff. Great job you finally relized we can't tackle. Better luck next year boys!
    RamsFan16

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