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    eldfan's Avatar
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    Steve Spagnuolo had praise for newly designated franchise player Oshiomogho Atogwe

    By Jim Thomas

    INDIANAPOLIS Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo had praise for newly designated franchise player Oshiomogho Atogwe and free-agent cornerback Ron Bartell.

    He indicated in his strongest language yet that running back Steven Jackson will be a focal point of the St. Louis offense. He gave what amounted to a strong endorsement for quarterback Marc Bulger.

    But Spagnuolo was noncommittal on the topic of wide receiver Torry Holt and offensive tackle Orlando Pace, and their futures or lack thereof in St. Louis. There were no big news bulletins from Spagnuolo's formal media session Friday at the NFL scouting combine. But there was some substance, even for a coach who appears to play things close to the vest.

    On Jackson's role in the offense:

    "He's an outstanding football player. And when you have talented football players, you use 'em as much as you can. And I think that'll happen. I think Pat (Shurmur) will mesh Steve's talent with the other talent we have at the other positions, and hopefully we'll come up with something really good." (Shurmur is the Rams' offensive coordinator.)

    On quarterback Marc Bulger:

    "I've always had a great deal of respect for Marc. I think he's a terrific guy (with) great character, and I think it begins there, especially at that position. I just know this: Every time we've ever played the Rams and he's been the quarterback, we've always worried about him as the quarterback.

    "And to me that's telltale. I think he's still a very talented guy, and expect him to even get better with the coaches that are around him now. I think he's eager to go, and we're looking forward to him doing positive things."

    On the prospect of re-signing Bartell:

    "Quality player. I've had a chance to watch him. Had a chance to meet him. I think he's a great person and you want to keep good people, good character people, with the team. So Kevin (Demoff) and his agent are working through that. Hopefully, something good will come out of it." (Demoff is the Rams' executive vice president for football operations and contract negotiator.)

    On Atogwe:

    "I've been fortunate to work with some really good safeties, both in Philadelphia and New York. I think O.J.'s got some of those qualities."

    But when asked about Holt and Pace, Spagnuolo played it down the middle.

    "No concrete decisions have been made," Spagnuolo said. "With Billy (Devaney), Kevin and myself, it's kind of ongoing. Somewhere along the way, we'll make those decisions. And when we do it, it'll be for the best interests of the football team."

    Holt and Pace both have high salary cap numbers for 2009, which make them susceptible to a trade, a contract restructuring or an outright release. Without reading too much into Spagnuolo's comments, Friday represented a chance for him to praise the pair of aging stars, or at least hint that they could have a future in St. Louis. But that didn't happen.

    Spagnuolo said he has yet to meet with Holt, who was clearly unhappy at the end of last season, issuing a terse "no comment" when asked if he wanted to return to the team.

    "But I didn't try to reach out to any of the players if I didn't think I could get to all of them," Spagnuolo said. "I didn't want anybody to feel like they were being neglected. But certainly Kevin and Billy have talked to the people that they should talk to."

    Demoff has yet to meet with Kennard McGuire, the agent who represents both Holt and Pace. But that meeting is expected to take place over the weekend here at the combine. As for Devaney, the Rams' general manager, it wouldn't be surprising if he was sending out trade feelers on Pace and Holt at the combine.

    Ken Landphere, the agent for Atogwe, is expected to arrive in Indianapolis today for what should be additional talks with Demoff on a long-term contract. Thursday night's dinner meeting between Demoff and Bartell's agent (Jeffrey Griffin) apparently went well, but no deal appears imminent.


  2. #2
    Mooselini Guest

    Re: Steve Spagnuolo had praise for newly designated franchise player Oshiomogho Atogw

    Ugh. We have to sign Bartell. Do what it takes, he's a priority to this team...

  3. #3
    unorthodox1999's Avatar
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    Re: Steve Spagnuolo had praise for newly designated franchise player Oshiomogho Atogw

    Great coaches bring out the greatness in the players, regardless of how good/bad they were before..The team has surrounded with what seems to be a hungry and very talented coaching staff..

    Im hoping they make the right choices when it comes to the younger and skilled athletes, whatever they decide to do with the veterans hopefully theyre still able to salvage some kind of positive outcome from their decisions..

  4. #4
    dgr828's Avatar
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    Re: Steve Spagnuolo had praise for newly designated franchise player Oshiomogho Atogw

    Gotta keep Pace, but Torry must go!

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