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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams: Tight ends should see a lot of action with Linehan in charge

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    08/25/2006



    In four seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan's passing attack has always been tight-end friendly.`

    Two years ago in Minnesota, Jermaine Wiggins caught 71 balls. Last season in Miami, Randy McMichael had 60 receptions. Over the four seasons, the tight end spot in Linehan's offenses has averaged 71 catches a year.

    "It's something he loves to do, and they didn't really use the tight end that much last year (in St. Louis)," rookie Joe Klopfenstein said.

    Not in the passing game. In fact, in Mike Martz's six seasons as Rams head coach, the tight end position averaged 33 catches a year. And no individual tight end caught more than 38 passes in any one season.

    Given Linehan's track record, that's about to change. So two of the happiest guys on draft day had to be Klopfenstein, a second-round pick from Colorado, and Dominique Byrd, a third-rounder from Southern California. Particularly since Brandon Manumaleuna, the primary starter the past three seasons, was traded to San Diego on the second day of the draft.

    Visions of passes -- and more passes -- may have danced in their heads. But almost from the moment Klopfenstein and Byrd reported to minicamps in the spring, Linehan and his staff have stressed blocking and more blocking.

    "They're really drilling that into us," Klopfenstein said.

    At the request of the coaching staff, the Klopfenstein added 15 pounds to his still lean 6-foot-5 frame, bulking up to 265. The better to take on 290-pound defensive ends when Steven Jackson is running off-tackle.

    "Blocking is something I didn't mind doing in college, and I took pride in it," Klopfenstein said. "But it's definitely a different kind of game at the professional level, with the size and athleticism of the guys you're blocking."

    Klopfenstein has been a more consistent blocker than Byrd (6-2, 254), which is one reason he has held down the No. 1 job throughout camp and the preseason. Meanwhile, Byrd has dropped to the No. 3 spot, with the surprising Aaron Walker moving into the No. 2 role.
    "I can't say I'm disappointed, because I had the opportunity," Byrd said. "I'm just trying to keep going, keep pushing for that spot. I don't think anything's definitely final. Things happen during the season. I just want to be able to step up when I'm called on."

    Byrd's biggest asset is catching passes. In college, he says he wasn't asked to block as much as some tight ends. With the Rams, his job description has changed.

    "He's got great ball skills," Linehan said. "He's got good enough size to play on the line as a tight end. He knows that it's an absolute must that he improves his blocking ability. That's why we spend more time on that area. We know he can be a good receiver. We're working very hard on that as well. But he's got to be a guy that can do both."

    The Rams use tight ends in the traditional manner, blocking and running routes on the line of scrimmage.

    But like most teams, they also have what's generically known as a "move" position for the tight end, which involves going in motion, shifting and occasionally lining up in the backfield like a fullback.

    Byrd's skills are more suited to the "move" position, but he needs to be able to do both to thrive in the NFL. In order to do both, Byrd needs to be able to slug it out on the line of scrimmage.

    "I certainly know he blocked at USC," Linehan said. "But we're asking him to master that task. It takes time. There's a lot more to it. I always say that blocking, especially for the guys that play in space, is 90 percent desire and 10 percent technique. I think he's definitely buying into that and knows that's going to be a key for his ability to get on the field for us."

    Meanwhile, Klopfenstein is perking along in the No. 1 spot, working on his blocking, too.

    "I think I'm progressing at it," Klopfenstein said. "The technique is something that I really need to work on, because in this league that's a big part of it. People play 10 years, and they know every trick in the book."

    There have been days when Klopfenstein's head is spinning as he tries to soak in everything needed to succeed at the NFL level. There are days when his head is spinning because defensive end Leonard Little has thrown him around on the practice field.

    "I obviously want to be the starter in the regular season, but I think I still need a few weeks to prepare," Klopfenstein said. "I don't want it to be here quite yet. Give me a few more weeks to prepare."

    He has 16 days. And counting.

    Tight end

    Tight ends in camp: 6

    Likely to make final roster: 3

    Safe & sound: Dominique Byrd, Joe Klopfenstein, Aaron Walker

    On the bubble: Jerome Collins

    Probably not: Alex Holmes,

    Rod Trafford

    Rosters must be trimmed to 75 players by Tuesday, and to 53 players by Sept. 2.


  2. #2
    RAMMAN68's Avatar
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    Re: Rams: Tight ends should see a lot of action with Linehan in charge

    Let's see if the TE's can master the red zone offense this week.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
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  3. #3
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    Re: Rams: Tight ends should see a lot of action with Linehan in charge

    It's one thing to state how many catches Rams TE's had, How many times were they thrown to ? I seem to remember Ernie Conwell being very involved in the Rams offense of yesteryear. Would be nice to have that weapon back in the arsenal.

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams: Tight ends should see a lot of action with Linehan in charge

    yes very brue laram... when conwell was with the rams and even jeff robinson to a certain extent, when they were in the game, defenses had to cover our TE's because if they doubled ike or torry then kurt was gonna drop it off to our TE"S.... its about time we have that weapon to add to our arsenal again...

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