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  1. #1
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    Ryan Earning Recognition

    Ryan Earning Recognition
    Thursday, October 22, 2009


    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    They are the unidentified giants in the middle, the anonymous players quietly having a serious impact on the game, the nameless grunts going to battle on every play that almost never get the recognition they deserve.

    They are defensive tackles and – more specifically – the nose tackles who on every single snap ignite a massive collision of humanity that in some way or another will almost always have a direct effect on what happens on a given play.

    For the Rams, the man handling those duties is Clifton Ryan. And though you may not realize it, the third-year nose tackle out of Michigan State is having a breakout 2009 season that is earning rave reviews from those that have seen him play, those that play with him and those that play against him.

    “Clif has done a great job,” defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. “I complimented him last week. The outcome wasn’t what we wanted but I thought Clif played a nice game for us. He continues to get better. He’s one of those guys that goes in and battle every day on the interior line. It’s not a pretty position, you don’t get a lot of credit sometimes when you are playing well and it’s a position that kind of gets lost sometimes. There is nothing pretty or glamorous about the defensive tackle position. He’s done a nice job for us and hopefully he will continue to get better and keep helping us.”

    In most sports, the one thing that never lies is the numbers. Statistics can determine a lot about how well a hitter is doing in baseball or what type of performance a basketball player is putting forth every night. It can be true in football too unless you play defensive tackle.

    Six games into the 2009 season, Ryan has 21 tackles, a sack and a pass defended. Those numbers might seem average on the surface when compared to, say, middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.

    A guy like Laurinaitis leads the Rams with 59 tackles, nearly 10 per game and he immediately jumps out on the game film because he’s constantly around the ball.

    But what doesn’t get seen is the part of the play where Ryan takes on two or more blockers, one of whom was probably originally assigned to get to the second level and block Laurinaitis in an effort to spring his running back.

    Instead, Ryan uses his 6’3, 310-pound frame to take up space, push back the linemen and allow Laurinaitis to run free to the ball. In many ways, it’s like having a point guard who can distribute the ball to a dominant post player in basketball.

    And as it stands, Ryan is doing it as well as he’s ever done it on a professional level.

    “I guess you could say that from an individual standpoint but I want some wins,” Ryan said. “I would trade any personal accolades for a couple of victories. As far as individual performance goes, a lot of credit goes to my teammates for pushing me and helping me get better week in and week out and my coaching staff for keeping me accountable. I just want to be consistent. I am not trying to be a superstar or anything. I just want to fit in this system and keep on doing what I am doing right now.”

    When Ryan arrived at Michigan State as a freshman, he was a 260-pound outside linebacker. As a sophomore, he moved to defensive end before finally settling in at defensive tackle as a junior and senior.

    All of the moving around made it hard for Ryan to get comfortable at a position and project himself toward an NFL career.

    When the 2007 NFL Draft rolled around, Ryan had high hopes after a solid senior season. Those hopes didn’t have him thinking he’d last until the 154th overall selection in the fifth round, when the Rams finally called his name.

    That slight immediately was burned into Ryan’s memory and he has used it as impetus for his play since.

    “It means a lot,” Ryan said. “Looking back to April of 2007 when I was passed on. That has been my motivation since I have been in this league. A lot of guys that were picked before me aren’t in the league anymore. A lot of them are on practice squads or have been on three or four teams. So when I came into this league, a lot of people looked beyond me as a player but most of all as a person.”

    Ryan slowly eased his way into the league as a rookie, playing in all 16 games with no starts and posting 48 tackles, a pair of sacks and a forced fumble. It was a promising beginning but he was only scratching the surface of his potential.

    Last year, Ryan got his first opportunity to be a starter, playing in every game and starting 12 of them with 46 tackles and a pass defended.

    While Ryan was making a strong impression, the nuances of the game hadn’t quite clicked in.

    When he wasn’t playing, Ryan was paying attention in the meeting rooms and the locker room, trying to soak in everything he could from the experienced veterans around him.

    If indeed this is his breakthrough season, Ryan believes it has more to do with those who have shown him the way than any particular thing he’s done.

    “I think more so it’s maturity,” Ryan said. “I had to learn how to be a pro. When I first got here, I had no idea about how to prepare each and every week. Now I have been around guys like Leonard, James Hall, Hollis, Corey Chavous, Torry Holt. Those guys prepared me to be able to play like this. Every week you have got to take pride in your job and take pride in what you put on the field. To me, it’s just maturity and preparation week in and week out.”

    Although he’s only in his third year in the league, Ryan is wise beyond his years. He’s quietly embraced a leadership role and is now just as much of a mentor to his younger teammates as the likes of Little and Hall.

    A number of teammates now cite Ryan as one of the locker room leaders. The media has taken to speaking with Ryan every Thursday to get his breakdown of the opponent, a job that used to be occupied by veteran La’Roi Glover and could someday lead to a second career in broadcasting for the knowledgeable tackle.

    “Clif may not have been playing in the league a long time but he seems like he’s a seasoned veteran,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “He gets in there and battles. He’s vocal. He shows up every day in practice and those are the kind of guys you like.”

    Make no mistake, though Ryan doesn’t play a position that comes with much glory, he still wants to be rated among the best in the league.

    “It’s just watching guys at your position, guys like Pat Williams, Ryan Pickett, Jammal Williams, Vince Wilfork, Casey Hampton,” Ryan said. “Those are guys I strive to be. I want to be mentioned as one of the best nose tackles in this game so watching guys like that I try to implement things from their game into my game.”

    Ryan says his knowledge of opponents comes from his ongoing desire to always outprepare and understand what he’s up against on a week to week basis. And it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the other guys in the league to use as a measuring stick for his own performance.

    “To be involved in something you have got to know your opponent,” Ryan said. “You have got to know other guys you are competing with at your position. I never know if I am ever going to need a job again so I have got to know who the best is at my position so I can be on their level or above their level so I can be in this business for a long time because I love this game, I take pride in my work.”


  2. #2
    Varg6's Avatar
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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    I like him, I think he's one of the good parts of the defense, for sure. I haven't had a chance to see many of the games, (damn Directv) but from what I've been able to look at post game, he looks good to me.


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post



    “I think more so it’s maturity,” Ryan said. “I had to learn how to be a pro. When I first got here, I had no idea about how to prepare each and every week. Now I have been around guys like Leonard, James Hall, Hollis, Corey Chavous, Torry Holt. Those guys prepared me to be able to play like this. Every week you have got to take pride in your job and take pride in what you put on the field. To me, it’s just maturity and preparation week in and week out.”
    Only 2 of his 6 mentors are still here, really show how things have changed. I'm glad he has taken torch and has become more of a leader.

    Anyways I really like this kid i've been drumming him up all year. He has been one of our best defensive players along with Little, Lauranatis, Long, OJ, and Hall

  4. #4
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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    Fair play, Clifton has been pretty good from day one..but he is stepping up his game to another level this year.i contacted him on monday to tell him so..he really is an important part of our future success and im glad that the coaching staff are recognizing his great play.
    when he was a rookie he was only signed to a 3 year contract and this year is the last of that..i hope we sign him to a long term contract a.s.a.p. he`s only 25 and im sure this regime has learnt from the mistakes of the previous regime in letting DT`s walk before they reach their peak.
    to the peeps who were down about the spoon trade for only getting a 5th round pick (and Gibson).. this player is a fine example of the value of a 5th round pick.

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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblin` Ram View Post
    Fair play, Clifton has been pretty good from day one..but he is stepping up his game to another level this year.i contacted him on monday to tell him so..he really is an important part of our future success and im glad that the coaching staff are recognizing his great play.
    when he was a rookie he was only signed to a 3 year contract and this year is the last of that..i hope we sign him to a long term contract a.s.a.p. he`s only 25 and im sure this regime has learnt from the mistakes of the previous regime in letting DT`s walk before they reach their peak.
    to the peeps who were down about the spoon trade for only getting a 5th round pick (and Gibson).. this player is a fine example of the value of a 5th round pick.
    You know him!?


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  6. #6
    Ramblin` Ram's Avatar
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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    Only through Facebook,i got a couple of players on my friends list and contact them to wish them luck and offer consolation when things go wrong or well dones etc.. when things go right..

    oh and from watching him without him knowing every sunday..

  7. #7
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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    Clifton Ryan is a stud at Defensive tackle. He's a poor mans Albert Haynsworth. It's not quite often that you get a man the size with the speed and power to to blow through the line and power to stand stoud and occupy space. He's been a huge part of our much improved run defense. I'm sure we'll sign him to a long contract this season, or definitely offseason.


    PS, I talk to Clifton on Facebook too, he always responds
    RamsFan16

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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    How can you not like a guy like this? This is the kind of guy we need to be building our team around.

    RealRam called this guy being a stud from the second we drafted him. If he responds to this thread he is getting rep from me.

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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    whats his add?

  10. #10
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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    You've got to be strong up the middle. Ryan (25), Lau (22), Atogwe (28) .....something to build on.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    Ryan is having a great year and at 25 his best years are a head of him, I just hope that we keep him.. they say that it takes 3 years for DT's to come around well its happening.......I had his Jersey made up....No 95

    steve
    "The breakfast Club"

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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    “To be involved in something you have got to know your opponent,” Ryan said. “You have got to know other guys you are competing with at your position. I never know if I am ever going to need a job again so I have got to know who the best is at my position so I can be on their level or above their level so I can be in this business for a long time because I love this game, I take pride in my work.”
    Love his attitude
    :ramlogo:

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    Re: Ryan Earning Recognition

    I love guys like this !!! These are the type of guys you want to build your team around.

    And, furthermore, I look at it this way: This just adds to another part of our "QUEST TO BECOME BETTER AND START BEING A SOLID FOOTBALL TEAM " campaign. We already have:

    Clifton Ryan
    Laurinitis
    Long
    OJ
    Bartell
    Wade ( also heard King is good)
    Butler

    NEEDS on defense to become a great defense:
    Another stud DT, another SAM LB, and another CB.
    If we get these things, we will be great once again!! But it sure feels good to know that this is another part of the puzzle solved and a piece added to the team that we are trying to get used to winning again.

    IF only i could say the same about everyone on the offense not named steven jackson marc bulger donnie avery jason smith ....

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