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Rookie tight end may realize impossible dream
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Thursday, Sep. 02 2004
First, veteran tight end Cam Cleeland pulled a hamstring in the early days of
training camp. Rookie Erik Jensen, drafted in the seventh round as a tight end,
was moved to fullback.
Just like that, Mike Brake was getting an increasing number of reps and
building momentum in what at first appeared to be a highly improbable quest to
land a spot on the Rams' roster. The team is expected to keep three tight ends:
Brandon Manumaleuna and Cleeland are locks, and at this point, Brake is the
only other tight end still around.
"It's been crazy," said Brake, an undrafted rookie from the University of
Akron. "I got some opportunities to play, and I think I made the most of them.
This last game, I should get quite a few reps, and I'll just try to prove
myself once again."
The Rams (1-2) wrap up their preseason schedule at 9 tonight (St. Louis time)
against the Raiders (2-1) in Oakland. The regular season gets under way Sept.
12 at the Edward Jones Dome, with NFC West foe Arizona providing the
Brake, a linebacker at Hilliard (Ohio) High, had no major-college offers. He
chose Akron because it was the "first one to offer me (a scholarship), I liked
the coaches, I liked the school, I liked the guys on the team. . . . We never
went to a bowl game; 7-5 was our best record. But I wouldn't take that back at
Brake, 24, started only 15 games for the Zips, although he appeared in 45. He
totaled 49 catches for 736 yards and 11 touchdowns. He didn't expect to be
drafted, but he believed he had NFL-caliber skills.
"I knew if I got the chance, I could do it," said Brake, 6 feet 4 and 256
pounds. "I knew I could compete at this level. So I'm not really surprised."
Coach Mike Martz said Brake "has done a much better job than we anticipated.
He's really picked things up well. . . . He's a better receiver than I would've
given him credit for when he first got here. He's got excellent hands. The
physical part of it obviously is so much more than what he was used to at
Akron, and he's learning that part of it. But he'll be fine."
Martz wants Jackson to get a lot of work
Rams rookie Steven Jackson is the NFL's top rusher in the preseason heading
into tonight's games. He has 251 yards in three games. The New York Giants' Ron
Dayne is next, with 228 yards. However, Dayne is averaging 7.4 yards per carry
to 4.6 for Jackson, the team's first-round draft pick.
On Friday night, Jackson ran for 125 yards - also a league high - in a 28-3
victory over Washington. He was given 25 carries, an unusually high workload
for a preseason game. Martz said it was done with a purpose.
"You've got a guy trying to get used to having to carry the load when (he's)
exhausted. And you could see he made one or two mental errors when he got
really tired," Martz explained. "But it was a terrific learning experience for
Rams leave town without Pace
The Rams boarded their charter flight for Oakland on Wednesday evening without
a No. 76 jersey in the equipment bag. Holdout left tackle Orlando Pace still
has not reported.
"This is our football team right now. I just would assume he's not coming in,
period," Martz said. "We love him, we wish he was here. And when he does come
in - if he does come in - then you move on. But you can't let one player, no
matter how good he is or how good a guy he is, hold the rest of the team
hostage, waiting on him to come in. We've got to get ready for Sept. 12."
Re: Rookie tight end may realize impossible dreamOriginally Posted by RamWraith
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