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Rams team report
In the wake of the indefinite suspension of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he wasn't aware of the NFL investigation involving Williams and wouldn't have hired him if he had known.
Williams was suspended indefinitely by the NFL effective immediately for his role in the bounty program with the New Orleans Saints from 2009-2011. Williams will miss at least the 2012 season and commissioner Roger Goodell "will review Williams' status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether to reinstate him, and, if so, on what terms."
Fisher did not commit to bringing Williams back when and if he is reinstated. He said, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. As I said, I hired Gregg because of his ability. He's very, very talented and wherever he has been, he has put top defenses up year after year. I also want to note that this organization, including myself, had no idea when we hired coach Williams, the potential for this to happen
"I've often been asked behind the scenes, 'Had you known about it would you have hired him?' Of course not. You don't go out and hire somebody that's going to potentially be suspended for an entire year. However, I know Gregg and I know him well; Gregg would not have put this organization in this position, accepted this job only to be suspended and put us behind the eight ball if you will. So, it's the National Football League. At times you have to adjust and our staff is prepared to adjust."
Asked how Williams took the news, Fisher said, "Certainly, the last few weeks have not been easy on him, anticipating the decision by the commissioner because he really didn't know what to expect. Yes, I would say he was somewhat surprised, shocked, disappointed, but also remorseful. He said, 'Look, Jeff, I made a mistake. And if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't have done that.'"
In a statement, Williams said, "I'd like to again apologize wholeheartedly to the NFL, Coach Fisher, the entire Rams organization and all football fans for my actions. Furthermore, I apologize to the players of the NFL for my involvement as it is not a true reflection of my values as a father or coach, nor is it reflective of the great respect I have for this game and its core principle of sportsmanship. I accept full responsibility for my actions. I highly value the 23 years that I've spent in the NFL.
"I will continue to cooperate fully with the league and its investigation and I will focus my energies on serving as an advocate for both player safety and sportsmanship. I will do everything possible to re-earn the respect of my colleagues, the NFL and its players in hopes of returning to coaching in the future."
Moving forward, Fisher said he will not hire a new defensive coordinator and that coaching the defense will "most likely be a "collective effort." Fisher, assistant head coach Dave McGinnis and secondary coach Chuck Cecil have all been defensive coordinators.
Fisher said, "I'll remind you that the playbook that Gregg has originated in my office, so I have a pretty good feel for the defense. At this point, I don't have liberty to say who is going to make the calls and the decisions, but it'll get done and it'll get done effectively.
"Again, we've got very talented coaches on this staff and we'll get the job done. I've got confidence in them, I've worked with them. I know what they're about, and so we'll get it done. This is a defense that's very intellectually challenging and we'll get the job done. We'll get the playbook and the scheme across to the players and they'll be successful in it."
—There was a seminal moment recently when Rams coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead met with the media at the start of the 2012 league year.
The Rams had agreed to terms with cornerback Cortland Finnegan, and Fisher was asked how they go about recruiting players in an effort to convince them to sign.
Said Fisher, "Well what you want to do is, first off, you walk in the building, they are impressed with the building. Many times this is only the second facility that they've ever seen, so the facility speaks for itself and then it's an opportunity. They get to meet the coaches, they get to meet everybody in the building. They've got to feel good about it.
"It's not about wining and dining and those kinds of things, it's more about their future and how they fit in the program. And then of course it's an opportunity to win. We feel like we're going to win here, and the players we bring in here are going to give us the chance to do that."
As Fisher finished, Snead couldn't help but jump in and give his take. He said, "I'm going to add to this too because that was very humbly said. But just as, if you were about to take a job somewhere else and you had friends that were in that organization, you would call and ask about that organization. Maybe ask about the person you're working for. I can tell you this, players do that in this league.
"It's a small league, everybody's in a fraternity and I know this, they do call and they research Jeff as a head coach and somebody they want to play for. I promise you it comes back extremely positive. He humbly said that it was facilities and that all has a say, but I'm going to tell you the truth: Having Jeff as a head coach is a big factor in players wanting to come play here and actually play hard here."
Of course, it's one thing to say that after the team had just signed a player that had played for Fisher in Tennessee. It's another when the next two players signed have no NFL connection to Fisher, although center Scott Wells did grow up in Nashville and dreamed of playing for him some day.
Snead's words were confirmed Monday when both Well and defensive tackle Kendall Langford did conference calls with the media.
Said Wells, "I've followed coach Fisher since I was in high school growing up in the Nashville area. I really admired what he was able to do with the Titans when he was here. Really wanted to explore an opportunity to play for him some day, and through free agency, I've been given that opportunity.
"Since my visit, really enjoyed meeting (line) coach (Paul) Boudreau and coach Fisher and decided that's where I wanted to be. It felt like the right place for me and my family."
Wells and Langford both reiterated what Fisher's reputation is around the league.
"One thing I've noticed with being in communication with guys that have played for him in the past, every one of them had positive things to say about him and they really respected him and just have gone on and on about how great a coach he is," Wells said. "So to me, that's a big thing. When none of the players that I've spoken to that have played for him had anything negative to say, that speaks volumes about the character of a coach and what he's able to do."
Echoed Langford, "I've heard nothing but great things about coach Fisher also. No one has said anything negative about the guy and when I met with him that kind of put the icing on the cake there. He seems like a player's coach. He understands the business, he understands how to rest his players, how to prepare his players and things of that nature. He has a good track record, so he just seemed like a good person for me. He's putting a good coaching staff together over there. I'm excited about what can happen this year."
—Scott Wells and Kendal Langford both relish the challenge of boosting the Rams up from the bottom of the NFL.
"Absolutely," Wells said. "I like being a part of that. I think coach Fisher has brought in the right coaches to build something there and he's got a great foundation with Sam (Bradford), outstanding quarterback, as well as other players on the team. I'm excited about this, I'm excited to be a part of it and look forward to turning it around soon."
Said Langford, "It's very appealing to me. That's one of the challenges I faced when I came out and was drafted to the Dolphins. Kind of the same scenario; they were 1-15 and we came in there with the mindset, 'We need to change the culture around here.' Those guys, they have that mindset, that mentality. I know it's something that will happen around there and happen very soon."
Finally, Langford was asked how much different he believes it will be to be on a team that hasn't had much success. He concluded, "I don't know. I hadn't really thought about that part. I'm just excited about where it's going. I don't think it's important necessarily where the team has been in the past. They have a new coaching staff, they've got some new players and I'm excited to be a part of that and look forward to going over there and winning a lot of games."
—Here are the contract breakdowns for Wells and Langford.
Wells' contract is worth $24 million over four years and includes a $4 million signing bonus. His base salaries of $3.5 million in 2012 and $5.5 million in 2013 are fully guaranteed to bring the total guarantees to $13 million. His salary-cap figure is $4.5 million this year. The contract also contains $500,000 escalators from 2013-2015, which could add another $1.5 million to the deal.
The total value of Langford's deal is $22 million and also includes a $4 million signing bonus. His $2 million base salary is fully guaranteed this year and in 2013, his $5 million salary is guaranteed for injury only. However, if he is on the roster on the fifth day after the Super Bowl in Feb. 2013, that base salary becomes totally guaranteed. His base salaries are $5 million in 2014 and $6 million in 2015. His cap figure this year is $3 million. Langford has escalators for 2013-2015 worth $583,333 each year as well as $100,000 Pro Bowl bonuses each year. If all are achieved, he could earn an additional $2.73 million.
The cap charges for Finnegan ($6 million), Wells ($4.5 million) and Langford $3 million) total $13.5 million. With 46 players under signed contracts and five on tenders, the Rams are currently a little more than $7.18 million under the cap.
—Asked to describe himself, Wells said, "Well, I consider myself an intelligent player. I really study the film and study the playbook. I'm very consistent and I think that I bring a level of professionalism that can really help other guys be true professionals on and off the field. Really just try to do everything right in practice and it will carry over into the games."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think with my experience in eight years in the NFL in a very complex offense, what should help as far as recognizing defensive pressures and communicating, making sure everybody's on the right page. A lot of that comes through practicing with the entire offense and it'll carry over into the football game. So I look to draw on my experience and try to share that the best I can and be an asset to this team." - Rams center Scott Wells on his best attributes.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Rams took a run at Detroit quarterback Shaun Hill to be the backup for Sam Bradford, but Hill signed a two-year contract to stay with the Lion.
With numerous quarterbacks having switched teams or re-signed, the pool is getting smaller. The Rams could still decide to re-sign Kellen Clemens.
1. Wide receiver: The Rams are looking for talent outside the numbers that can support quarterback Sam Bradford. Brandon Lloyd was an unrestricted free agent the Rams say they were interested in bringing back, but Lloyd followed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to New England. Danario Alexander has shown the ability to make plays down the field, but injuries have kept him off the field. The Rams will look closely at the league's unrestricted free agents as well as considering the selection of Justin Blackmon in the draft.
2. Defensive tackle: This is a strong year for the position in the draft, and the Rams could be tempted, especially if they trade out of the sixth overall pick in the first round. Fred Robbins and Justin Bannan were released. The other main players in the rotation last season were Gary Gibson and Darell Scott and Gibson is a free agent. The Rams did sign Kendall Langford as a free agent, but they are still shopping.
3. Cornerback: Injury questions muddle the evaluation of this position going forward. Ron Bartell was cleared to play late in the season after suffering a broken bone in his neck in the first game but was released. Bradley Fletcher suffered a torn ACL in October during the team's bye, and it's unknown when he will be cleared to play. Jerome Murphy missed the entire season with a broken ankle suffered early in training camp. Cortland Finnegan was signed, but more help is needed.
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
—TE Billy Bajema has been a solid blocker in the past, but his play fell off in 2011. He might not be offered a new contract.
—G Jacob Bell restructured his contract last summer, making him a free agent now. His return was considered questionable, but his history with coach Jeff Fisher could result in him being re-signed.
—S James Butler was one of former coach Steve Spagnuolo's first signings in 2009, but he never played to the level expected. He can be a role player, but it will be somewhere else in 2012.
—LB Chris Chamberlain improved his game in 2012 and was solid on the weak side. He has also been one of the club's best special teams player.
—WR Mark Clayton wasn't able to come back in 2012 from a serious knee injury the season before and ended up on IR again after playing sparingly.
—QB Kellen Clemens appears to be the favorite for the backup job behind Sam Bradford thanks to his history playing for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer with the Jets.
—QB A.J. Feeley injured his thumb after taking over for an injured Sam Bradford last season and wasn't able to play again. It seems unlikely that he will be re-signed.
—DT Gary Gibson has been a solid producer inside in the rotation, but his future with the Rams might be in doubt with the change in the coaching staff.
—OL Adam Goldberg has filled in at four positions on the line in recent seasons and has contributed needed depth. The question is whether the new coaching staff will want to go in a different direction.
—CB Rod Hood was signed when injuries hit the cornerback position and was solid by the end of the season. Might be re-signed to compete for a backup job.
—P Donnie Jones has been one of the better punters in the league, but the Rams might not want to invest significant money in the position.
—LB Bryan Kehl is a solid special teams player, but didn't show enough consistency to get a chance on defense.
—CB Justin King played through injuries last season, but is nothing more than a nickel back. He was pressed into a starter's role because of injuries.
—T Mark LeVoir might return on a reasonable contract to compete for a backup job. That all depends on the evaluation of the new coaching staff.
—RB Jerious Norwood was never able to show the speed he has and didn't contribute much to the running game or special teams. It seems unlikely he will be re-signed.
—LB Brady Poppinga started on the strong side, and improved as he became comfortable with the defense. The evaluation by the ne coaching staff will determine whether there is interest in bringing him back.
—TE Stephen Spach is a blocking tight end that didn't play much during the 2012 season after being signed following his release by Arizona in the cutdown to 53 players.
—WR Cadillac Williams had some productive moments, but not many. The Rams have little depth at the position, so he might be back if no one else is signed or drafted.
—C Tony Wragge replaced Jason Brown during the season and was solid. Depending on the evaluation of the new coaching staff, he could be in the mix to compete for the job.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
—DE C.J. Ah You (not tendered as RFA) was a favorite of the previous coaching staff, so his status could be up in the air.
—QB Tom Brandstater (not tendered as ERFA) was on and off the roster last season because of injuries at the position, but never played in a game. He might go to camp in competition for the third-string job.
—FB Brit Miller (not tendered as ERFA) ended the 2012 season on injured reserve with a knee injury. He's a willing blocker and good special teams player.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
—WR Danny Amendola (tendered at $1.927M with second-round pick as compensation) was injured in the first game of the 2011 season and didn't play again. He will be back to compete for a spot as the slot receiver and kick returner and will be tendered at a second-round level.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
—DT Jermelle Cudjo (tendered at $465,000) showed some promise as a rookie in 2010, but injured his back in training camp last summer and missed the entire season on injured reserve.
—WR Dominique Curry (tendered at $465,000) has been a standout on special teams, but was never given much of a chance as a receiver despite showing in camp he might be a prospect.
—G Bryan Mattison (tendered at $465,000) started at the end of the season at right guard, and appeared to have promise.
—S Darian Stewart (tendered at $540,000) has come a long way since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010. Likes to mix it up, but has to improve on taking better angles in run support.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: None.
—CB Cortland Finnegan: UFA Titans; $50M/5 yrs, $5M SB/$24M guaranteed.
—DT Kendall Langford: UFA Dolphins; $22M/4 yrs, $4M SB/$6M fully guaranteed/$5M '13 base guaranteed against injury.
—C Scott Wells: UFA Packers; $24M/4 yrs, $4M SB/$13M guaranteed.
—DT Justin Bannan (released).
—CB Ron Bartell (released).
—C Jason Brown (released).
—DE James Hall (released).
—CB Al Harris (UFA; retired).
—WR Brandon Lloyd: UFA Patriots; $12M/3 yrs.
—WR Nick Miller (released).
—LB David Nixon (released).
Re: Rams team report
Interesting that they value amendola for a second round pick.
Re: Rams team report
WR Mark Clayton wasn't able to come back in 2012 from a serious knee injury the season before and ended up on IR again after playing sparingly.
I wonder if the Rams are even interested an Clayton, of he is healthy.
Re: Rams team report
Given the state of our WR corps and that they have a "supposed" interest in Steve Smith who also has injury concerns, I'd have to say Clayton is in the mix.
Re: Rams team report
I would say Kellen Clemens has the inside track on the backup QB position.
Re: Rams team report
If you want to see how bad the Rams roster was last year, just look at the list of free agents and releases. Only two of them have signed elsewhere, and that's Brandon Lloyd and Ron Bartell. The only other guy to even have a visit, that I've heard, is Chris Chamberlain. And that's with Spags' new team.
-03-23-2012 #7OG Carlo Guest
Re: Rams team report
I'm still trying to figure out why we didn't restrict Lloyd when we have NO receiving core...and now the Pats have him.
Re: Rams team report
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