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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rookie Alston is waiting for his chance

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/15/2006


    With Pisa Tinoisamoa placed on the injured reserve list Thursday because of a broken hand, Dexter Coakley represents the present for the Rams at the weakside linebacker position.

    But will rookie Jon Alston be part of the future?

    As expected, coach Scott Linehan named Coakley the starter for Sunday's game in Oakland, indicating that Coakley probably will start the final three games of the season in place of Tinoisamoa.

    "He's been out there, been steady, all year long," Linehan said of Coakley.



    But Linehan also indicated he's eager to see what Alston can do in a game situation.

    "Jon's really been showing me some things the last two weeks," Linehan said. "We played him some at safety last week on the (scout) team. I've been waiting for flashes, and he was flashing a lot on plays, and breaking on balls. He was really doing a great job (Thursday) covering kicks. Those are all part of the things that we were pretty enamored with with him."

    That explains why the Rams took Alston in the third round of the draft, 77th overall, out of Stanford last April. But while Linehan has been waiting for Alston to flash on the practice field, Alston has been just waiting ... waiting for a chance to play.

    After spending the first 13 games in street clothes on the pregame inactive list, Alston may make his NFL debut Sunday in Oakland.

    "I'm trying to get Jon ready because if he doesn't play this week, there's a real good chance he'll play the last two games," Linehan said. "It all depends on what we need for special teams right now."

    Obviously, the sooner the better as far as Alston is concerned.



    "I've been sitting back waiting for my opportunity," Alston said. "I love this game. I've been really happy to be around here. But not happy to be on the sidelines. Like I've said, this situation has made me hungrier."

    Alston has gotten practice reps this week with the Rams' regulars on special teams. But all of his practice work on defense, whether at linebacker or safety, has come on the scout team running the schemes of that week's opposing defense.

    Listed at 6 feet, 221 pounds, Alston has a body type that pegs him as a linebacker-safety 'tweener.

    Linehan said Thursday he's intrigued by the possibility of playing Alston as a "box" safety, lining up near the line of scrimmage to defend the run and blitz the quarterback.

    Alston would prefer to play linebacker, but at this point, he just wants to play.

    "I think that I can be outstanding at whatever I do because of my mentality," Alston said. "So I'm going to work at whatever I'm asked to do."

    Meanwhile, Coakley is excited about the chance to start the final three games of the season. In 2005, his first season with the Rams ended in early December with a dislocated ankle and fractured fibula against Washington. One year later, his '06 season has new life now that Tinoisamoa is out for the season.

    "I want to get out there with the (starting) unit and not lose anything because I'm in there," Coakley said. "I want to hold up my end of the bargain."

    Until last season, Coakley had missed only one game in his entire NFL career, the first eight seasons of which were spent in Dallas.

    Until this season, Coakley always had been a starter, earning three Pro Bowl berths with the Cowboys. But Coakley accepted his backup position without hard feelings this season.

    "This is my 10th year, and Pisa was there," Coakley said. "It was a no-win situation. We still had a very competitive (training) camp, because I was not conceding to anyone.

    "But he was a young gun, hungry in the game. ... He was already established. He was good for us. Unfortunately, he just had a rough year. A broken hand at linebacker, you need your hands."

    Unfortunately for Tinoisamoa, the broken right hand he suffered Monday night against Chicago was just the latest in a long list of injuries this season. Earlier, he suffered a dislocated left elbow, a broken left hand and a sprained right shoulder.

    Tinoisamoa was not available for reporters Thursday, but Linehan said the fourth-year pro was disappointed about being placed on IR.

    "But I think reality has set in," Linehan said. "He might have broken a single-season record for arm, shoulder and hand injuries. I don't know if they keep that (record), but unfortunately it just caught up to him. I told him, 'Just get it out of your system and plan on being healthy the rest of your career.'"


  2. #2
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Re: Rookie Alston is waiting for his chance

    [QUOTELinehan said Thursday he's intrigued by the possibility of playing Alston as a "box" safety, lining up near the line of scrimmage to defend the run and blitz the quarterback.
    ][/QUOTE]

    Yeah it would so whats stopping you!

  3. #3
    MikeB1603 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rookie Alston is waiting for his chance

    I'm sure that his lack of play has to do with the fact that we are horrendous defending the run and putting in a 220 pound linebacker to go alongside our other small linebackers doesn't work that well. That would mean that he would have to get time playing safety, but I don't see Alston being a better option that Chavous or Atogwe. Now that playoff hopes are shot though he will get his chance, and whether or not you or I or he or she or whoever thinks it fair, it is what he gets so he better take advantage of it.

  4. #4
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Re: Rookie Alston is waiting for his chance

    I'm sure that his lack of play has to do with the fact that we are horrendous defending the run and putting in a 220 pound linebacker to go alongside our other small linebackers doesn't work that well.
    Ok, but not at LB but like he said, in the box as a safety. Blitz and play the run, he is not going to get better on the sideline.

  5. #5
    RAMMAN68's Avatar
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    Re: Rookie Alston is waiting for his chance

    I want to see what he brings to the table as a box safety. Dose this mean Haslett is leaning toward a 4-6 scheme to stop the run?
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  6. #6
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    Re: Rookie Alston is waiting for his chance

    yeah I've been very eager to see what this guy can do, put him in Linehan!


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

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