For rookie, it's Wideout 101
By TROY HAYES - H&R Staff Writer ST. LOUIS - Dante Ridgeway left Ball State University a year early to parlay an exceptional college football career into a lucrative NFL contract, but rest assured he's still being schooled.
How can you not ascertain some insight playing the same position with two potential Hall of Famers?
Between Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, Ridgeway's teammates on the St. Louis Rams, the former MacArthur standout has a bit of soaking up to do. The two combine for nearly 20,000 yards of career receiving knowledge.
Throw in receivers coach Henry Ellard (13,777 yards receiving) knowing a thing or two about a thing or two catching footballs, and Ridgeway has to do his best sponge impersonation every day.
"Every practice, sometimes every play, I learn a lot," Ridgeway said from the Rams training facility on Wednesday. "It's usually small things like how to sell a route (to a defender) better or when to turn or not to turn, but every day there is something that you pick up from them."
Ridgeway, picked in the sixth round of this year's draft by the Rams, has, so far, shown he can play with the Holts and Bruces of the league, drawing praise from Ellard and head coach Mike Martz.
Ellard likes his ferocity on the field.
"He's a physical guy that has good hands and good feet," Ellard said. "He attacks the ball. In a combat situation, Dante's going to come out on top. That's something either you have or you don't."
Martz likes his size and strength.
"He has a bigger physical presence than our guys have," Martz said on the Rams Web site. "He is a guy who has a chance to make it on this team. I think I like him a little as a Hines Ward type of player where he doesn't have great speed, but does have great body control and makes plays."
You'd think in the cutthroat world of professional football it would be tough to get help from someone you're ultimately trying to take a job from, but the veterans have been like a tutor for Ridgeway.
He wasn't surprised.
"They've got their spots. They're not worried about someone taking them out," Ridgeway said. "They've got nothing to lose and if I can help them win- ."
So he watches Holt and Bruce and Marshall Faulk and Orlando Pace trying to glean the slightest edge.
One thing they can't help enough with is the playbook.
Asked to play two different positions (flanker and wideout), Ridgeway's working double time learning the plays for the toughest offense in the league.
That's just another obstacle to overcome for last year's Biletnikoff Award finalist.
A knock on Ridgeway has been his speed and his height. He's more than aware of it. He just tries to make the best of what he has to offer.
"I know I'm not the fastest guy or the tallest," he said. "But God gives you something, you have to find what it is and use it.
"The only thing you can do is keep on striving, do the best you can and keep the faith."
Seems he's learned a little about living too.
Re: For rookie, it's Wideout 101
I like the way this kid thinks too Dez!............Hey any one that will come in here and give it their all I'll have their back right here on clanram!.............We need good guys as well as good football players playing for the Rams!.....................Positive people equate to good karma!......................
Re: For rookie, it's Wideout 101
He made a very very nice catch in traffic. i should have mentioned it in my observation post.