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    Spagnuolo: Rams will miss Atogwe ..

    BY JIM THOMAS Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2011 12:05 am | (6) Comments

    A question about losing safety Oshiomogho Atogwe to Washington was prefaced with the assessment: You're losing a good player, but not a Hall of Famer.

    "Well, he's a Hall of Fame person," coach Steve Spagnuolo replied at the NFL owners meetings in New Orleans. "I can tell you that right now. And he's a good football player."

    In terms of character, work ethic, leadership, Atogwe was everything Spagnuolo looks for in a player. Voted defensive captain in 2010 by his teammates, Atogwe was the poster player for Spagnuolo's "Four Pillars."

    On Veteran's Day in 2009, with the team gathered around at the end of practice, Spagnuolo asked Atogwe to say a prayer in honor of U.S. troops and those who had given their lives serving their country. That's how much Spagnuolo respects Atogwe.

    But this offseason, the Rams simply didn't think Atogwe was worth the $26 million over five years that he's getting from the Redskins.

    "O.J.'s a special guy," Spagnuolo said. "But you know it happens in this business. This is year 13 now (for Spagnuolo as an NFL coach). I've had to go through these before. I understand it. I get it. I know O.J. feels the same. I wish him a lot of luck. I do. And we'll remain close friends, I know, forever."

    While Spagnuolo was wishing good luck to Atogwe, he could say the same for James Butler. With Atogwe's departure earlier this month, Butler has a chance to regain a starting job at safety.

    Just two years ago, Butler's signing was viewed as a centerpiece move for the defense of the newly hired Spagnuolo. Butler knew the system because of his time with Spagnuolo with the New York Giants and would help the secondary get on the same page. But by the end of 2010 Butler was almost an afterthought on the Rams' defense.

    "James and I had a long talk (at the end of the season)," Spagnuolo said. "Here he is a starter in the NFL. We brought him here for a reason, and he really helped us that way."

    But Butler missed most of training camp and the preseason with a knee injury (a torn medial collateral ligament) and never got his job back from Craig Dahl.

    "That was more of a product of Craig Dahl playing really good football, and we just didn't want to disrupt how it was going at the time," Spagnuolo said. "And I will say this about James, because (special teams coordinator) Tom McMahon said it loudly at the end of the year. He was very, very appreciative and impressed with the way James handled going from a starter to kind of a swing guy and playing special teams.

    "He really helped our kickoff team get better, our punt team, our punt return team. James is a pro. He's a quality guy. He's a team guy. I told him, 'James, I expect you to come back with thoughts of being the starter again.' I want him to see it that way, and he should. So we'll see what happens."

    Obviously nothing will be guaranteed. Returnees Dahl and Darian Stewart also will be in the mix. And Spagnuolo said. "We'll add somebody. We'll see what happens in the draft and free agency."

    As an undrafted rookie, Stewart was set back early by a hamstring injury but then showed promise. "I thought he came on," Spagnuolo said. "We played him more in the nickel situations where he was down (in the box) as a (weakside) linebacker. But I thought he was a nice ... surprise is probably the best way to say it. I think he'll grow, too."

    No QB coach

    Spagnuolo confirmed that the Rams will not hire a quarterbacks coach. Josh McDaniels will serve the dual role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2011.

    "I think that's a safe statement," Spagnuolo said. "We're going to head that way, at least this year. And I think it's a good thing. Josh has done it that way before. I think it's terrific that Sam (Bradford) will get the direct how-to-do-it, everything Josh is thinking.

    "I feel real comfortable because Josh has done it this way (before). Josh is really efficient with his time and his work. And when they finally get together, I just think it'll be good."

    Under current NFL lockout conditions, Bradford and McDaniels are not allowed to have any contact. Bradford has been working out on his own at home in Oklahoma. He is not expected to begin throwing to teammates for several weeks. Under non-lockout conditions, Bradford normally wouldn't begin throwing much to teammates until after the draft, when the minicamps and other workouts began.

    Away to camp

    It's looking more and more as if the Rams will hold training camp outside St. Louis this summer.

    "We're working on it," Spagnuolo said. "And there's a couple different spots. You know one of them is Rolla that we've been looking at."

    More specifically, the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Southern Illinois University Carbondale is also believed to be under consideration.

    "We're researching it now and we've probably got to get moving on it and have something finalized here in a month or so," Spagnuolo said.

    The Rams trained at home for Spagnuolo's first two training camps.

    "But you know I've had the desire (to go away)," Spagnuolo said. "I think it's a great team bonding thing. I'm a traditionalist that way. There's something about going away to camp, and I think there's something about coming back at the end of training camp you come back and you're home. But we all want it to be right for our players, be right for the organization. Have it in the right spot. Make sure it works. So there's a lot to it."

  2. #2
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    Re: Spagnuolo: Rams will miss Atogwe ..

    I hope the front office knows what they are doing.

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    Re: Spagnuolo: Rams will miss Atogwe ..

    Omg omg omg omg omg. I hope they goto carbondale that's only 30 minutes from here. I was bummed when they said they were going outside st louis cause I was gonna goto a training camp since it's only a couple hours away bu if they goto SIU I will freak out. It is a brand new facility so there's a chance they could and I can't wait to find out.

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    Re: Spagnuolo: Rams will miss Atogwe ..

    What is this kindergarten?...Bradford and McDaniels aren't allowed to talk to eachother because of the lock-out!

    GO RAMS!

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    Re: Spagnuolo: Rams will miss Atogwe ..

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    What is this kindergarten?...Bradford and McDaniels aren't allowed to talk to eachother because of the lock-out!

    GO RAMS!
    Are the rules of the current state of affairs in the league changing drastically day- to- day? Cause I could have sworn that earlier on, the two of them talking to each other had nothing to do with a lockout!!

    This is more like jail...

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    Re: Spagnuolo: Rams will miss Atogwe ..

    Quote Originally Posted by rNemesis View Post
    Are the rules of the current state of affairs in the league changing drastically day- to- day? Cause I could have sworn that earlier on, the two of them talking to each other had nothing to do with a lockout!!

    This is more like jail...
    Yeah there really was sort of a lockout BEFORE the lockout. If I understand this correctly, there is a certain time of the year (up through March-ish) that players are suppose to go home and not be involved in football related activities. This is never an issue other years because players really have as much time as they want or need during the OTA's to talk to their coaches. However, since there was added pressure of a impending lockout this year, a lot of teams were trying to get a head start. The league responded by saying they weren't suppose to be doing that. I don't know if they ever made any issue out of it in previous years. I doubt it though.

    It seems the only punishment is a league imposed fine, so if you ask me, it would be worth it. I doubt that the Rams will violate league rules though..doesn't seem very "4 pillars-y". Hope that answers your question.

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