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Rookie defensive back finds his way to camp
Bartell was drafted in the second round
BY STEVE KORTE
ST. LOUIS - Rookie defensive back Ron Bartell had a couple of restless nights at his apartment in St. Louis knowing that the St. Louis Rams had opened training camp, and he wasn't with them.
"I couldn't get any sleep,"said Bartell, the Rams second-round pick in the 2005 NFL draft. "I have been real anxious to get to work, to get the business part of it out of the way and just do what I do."
Bartell was doing his thing -- playing football -- Friday after signing a four-year, $2.879 million contract with the Rams.
The signing of Bartell leaves offensive tackle Alex Barron, the team's first-round pick, and guard Richie Incognito, a third-round pick, as the only unsigned members of the Rams' 2005 draft class.
The Rams are waiting for the results of a physical on Incognito, who had offseason knee surgery, before working out a deal.
"We're trying to get a reply on his physical to know the kind of timespan we'd expect for his knee to heal," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "I would expect that to get done really soon."
With only a handful of first-rounders having signed, Martz said he could understand why Barron hadn't reported for camp.
"They have to get bracketed for their spot before they go off," Martz said. "That's just how it is. It's just one of those weird years where the No. 1's don't go off until real late, and there is not much you can do about it."
In contrast, Martz started to lose his patience over Bartell's absence Thursday morning.
Bartell, the 50th overall pick, was unsigned even though the 49th overall pick and the 51st overall pick had reached contract agreements.
Martz was happy to see the 6-foot-1, 208-pound Bartell on the practice field Friday morning.
"In terms of an athlete at that position, he's the whole package in terms of the size, the speed, the quickness, the agility and the versatility," Martz said. "He's a big guy who can go against the slot receiver and that kind of stuff."
Bartell played at Central Michigan University for two years before transferring to Howard University. He had 51 tackles, one interception and six passes defensed as a junior and 39 tackles, one interception and 14 passes defensed as a senior. He was chosen as second team All-Mid Eastern Athletic Conference as a senior.
Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce decided to test out Bartell during practice Friday.
"He called me out a couple of times today in one-on-ones," Bartell said. "I got my feet wet. Working against him and Torry (Holt) and the other guys is only going to help make me better. I'm looking forward to it."
Bartell is capable of playing both cornerback or safety, though the Rams will try him at cornerback first.
"As long as I am playing, I have no preference," Bartell said. "I just want to be able to help the team."
Bartell sees his versatility as a way of getting on the field sooner.
"If something happens and somebody goes down, I can slide over and help out," Bartell said.
Bartell received a signing bonus of $1.494 million, but he said he hasn't thought too much about his financial windfall. He admitted buying a new vehicle -- a Hummer -- but the new millionaire also was forced to lug his teammates' shoulder pads off the field after practice.
"When you are growing up, you're not even thinking about the money," Bartell said "You just go out and play. I started playing street football, so it was never about the money then, and it's not going to be about the money now."
The Rams had 1,516 fans attend their Friday morning practice at Rams Park, eclipsing the 1,134 fans that came out Thursday morning.
The Rams are expecting an even bigger turnout when the team practices from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. today and Sunday.