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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Saipaia Settles In...For Now

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Ask Blaine Saipaia who Jose Oquendo is and he knows that he’s an athlete; he just isn’t sure which sport.

    “Is that the boxer?” Saipaia asks.

    Well, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Oquendo could box; after all he has done everything else. Actually, for those who fall in the same boat as Saipaia, Oquendo is the former St. Louis Cardinals baseball player who, in his heyday, was one of Major League Baseball’s most versatile and valuable utility players.

    In fact, Oquendo became the first player in the National League to play all nine positions in one season in 1988 which helped him earn the nickname the “Secret Weapon.” Now, Oquendo is the Cardinals’ third base coach, though there is no word on whether he will eventually coach every position.

    So, what does a 5’10, 160-pound former baseball player have to do with a 6’3, 310-pound football player? How about everything.

    Saipaia has become the Rams’ version of the secret weapon, bouncing from position to position without complaint. He entered the league as an offensive lineman, mainly a guard, but just this season has played every position on the line before winding up at his current tight end position.

    His team-first attitude has made him a locker room favorite and it seems nothing can change his happy disposition.

    That said, Saipaia isn’t ready to embrace the Secret Weapon nickname just yet.

    “I won’t be too much of a secret, I’m kind of hard to miss,” Saipaia said.

    Saipaia played his college football at Colorado State, where he was an offensive tackle. There, he earned All Mountain West Conference honors for his performance as a senior. Despite his solid collegiate effort, Saipaia went undrafted in the 2000 NFL Draft.

    So, he went about his business the difficult way, trying to latch on to a practice squad job in the hope that it would one day turn into the real thing.

    He spent the final nine regular season games and two postseason contests on New Orleans’ practice squad. In 2001, he spent training camp and the preseason with the Saints, but was unable to crack the roster and spent that year out of the league.

    Saipaia’s struggles to land a job carried into 2002 where he got a small sniff from Tennessee before getting his release. But those years were just the beginning of Saipaia’s NFL training camp tour.

    Few players spent more time bouncing around than Saipaia did in 2003. He was with the Raiders for training camp, went to Denver’s practice squad for two weeks and returned to Oakland’s practice squad on Dec. 10. Finally, on Dec. 24, Saipaia was moved to the active roster. He made his NFL debut on special teams against the Chargers on Dec. 28.

    After the Raiders released Saipaia on Sept. 8, 2004, the Rams scooped him up. Now, Saipaia has found a home in St. Louis…sort of.

    Saipaia’s worth as a utility player has made him a valuable part of the Rams, so in that regard he has finally found a home. But in a different sense, he continues to move around.

    When the Rams struggled to find stability at right tackle last season, Saipaia stepped in and did an admirable job for a guy who projects more as a guard than a tackle in the league.

    “He’s a guard eventually, we know that,” coach Mike Martz said.

    Saipaia entered this year’s training camp as the incumbent at right tackle, but he didn’t figure to stick there too long because of the team’s selection of rookie Alex Barron in the first round.

    Saipaia bounced around during the preseason, spending some time at both guard spots, both tackle spots and even center in some practices. After right tackle Rex Tucker was lost to a calf injury, Saipaia moved back to the starting spot on the right side.

    But as Barron developed and Saipaia struggled, the rookie took over the right tackle spot late in the game against the Titans.

    With Roland Williams and Brandon Manumaleuna out because of injury, who else but Saipaia was chosen to move to tight end. He made the move without a peep and switched from No. 60 to No. 49.

    Saipaia had never played tight end and could only recall catching any ball just one time in his football playing career.

    “I caught one in college, but it didn’t count,” Saipaia said. “It was a special play, tackle eligible. It was a touchdown, they just didn’t count it, they thought I was ineligible I guess.”

    Saipaia’s debut at tight end came against the Seahawks on Oct. 9 and he was in on about 15 plays, none of which had him involved in the passing game. More often than not, he was in to help with run blocking.

    “As long as he can block that’s all I care about,” quarterback Marc Bulger said. “We’ll worry about his pass receiving skills later.”

    But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like to get the ball some time.

    “I’m looking at it like whatever they need me to do,” Saipaia said. “If they need me to run a whatever route, I’ll run it the best I can. If they need me to block somebody, I’ll do it the best I can. I want to focus on not more individual attributes, but what is best for the team. Right now that is for me to be a tight end and do what they ask me to do. That’s what I am going to do.”

    Of course, by the time you read this, Saipaia could be playing anywhere. After all, he has been known to line up at defensive tackle in goal line sets during practice.


  2. #2
    talkstoangels61's Avatar
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    Re: Saipaia Settles In...For Now

    Saipia & Terrell would be my starting guards if i were the coach period!

  3. #3
    RamsFan16's Avatar
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    Re: Saipaia Settles In...For Now

    Saipia would?
    RamsFan16

  4. #4
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Saipaia Settles In...For Now

    Big Blaine has done well. Effort, attitude -- team player. :angryram:

    Would sure like to see him mostly in blocking assignments as a TE but would certainly enjoy more seeing him score a few TD's -- three, four -- as a TE or a FB, a la James Hodgins (sneaky pass play Vs. Packers for a short TD); that shot appears in the ClanRam Gallery, great photo.

    :clanram: ...Make us proud No. 49!

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