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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Summer heat has allowed Rams' Holt to thaw

    By Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports
    August 8, 2008





    MEQUON, Wis. When Torry Holt thinks back on the atrocity that was the St. Louis Rams' 2007 season, the memory that haunts him most was the not-so-fantastic finish. Playing a meaningless game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium, the seven-time Pro Bowl wideout grimaced as his former teammate, Kurt Warner, torched the Rams for 300 yards in a 48-19 victory, the kind of fast-paced beating St. Louis once lay on overmatched opponents.

    Though Holt caught seven passes for 93 yards and ran his NFL record streak of seasons with 90 or more receptions to six, he was utterly miserable. The Rams, who'd lost their first eight games of '07, finished 3-13; Holt's right knee was throbbing from lingering cartilage damage that he feared would never improve.


    Oh, and he felt underappreciated and underpaid.


    "I just wanted it to be over," Holt recalled earlier this week after a training camp practice at Concordia University, the Rams' newest summer home. "Last year, my confidence was a little shaken, and I spent a lot of time being angry. Since camp started, I've gotten my passion and love back for the game. If you were to ask me how I felt in the offseason, I'd have said, 'Get the (expletive) out of my face.' "


    If you were looking for Holt over the past offseason, the Rams' training facility was not a promising place to start. Some players skip OTAs, the offseason workouts that are allegedly voluntary but strongly encouraged by coaches, because they want to spend time in their hometowns or work with a trainer in another locale.


    During many of the Rams' workouts on which Holt passed, he was a few minutes down the road at a "24 Hour Fitness," doing bikram yoga, swimming laps or playing in pickup basketball games.


    This was partly because Holt felt his knee, which was plagued by swelling and stiffness last season after surgery to repair damaged cartilage the previous January, needed a break from football. But his general disgust with the way things went down in '07, underscored by a sideline shouting match with coach Scott Linehan caught by television cameras during a late-season defeat, had something to do with that decision as well.


    His bosses, Holt said, "didn't give me any (expletive)" about skipping the OTAs. "They probably weren't happy," he conceded, "but hey, it's voluntary."


    Said Linehan: "I told him, 'Torry, whatever you've got to do to be the best you can be this year, I'm all for it.' He feels a lot better, and his leg's in much better shape, than last year at this time. I predict he's going to have a heck of a year."


    Holt, 32, is banking on it literally. Like many elite players who signed long-term deals before the recent escalation of the salary cap, Holt, who signed a seven-year, $42-million extension before the 2003 season, has bristled as less-accomplished peers have surpassed him in the marketplace.


    The Rams lured their other starting wideout, Drew Bennett, via free agency before the '07 season with a six-year, $30-million deal. Holt is due to earn $5.65 million this season and $6.65 million in '09, the final year of his contract. He made news in March when he said at a charity golf tournament that he wanted to "send in his resignation" to the Rams and join his brother, newly signed safety Terrence Holt, on the Panthers.


    Holt insisted he was joking, but money clearly is an issue. "You're a little taken aback at first," Holt said of his contract status. "But my thing is, I signed a deal, and I have to honor that deal. I'm just going to let it take care of itself. If we have the kind of year I think we can have and win some games, everybody can benefit."


    Specifically, Holt believes another stellar season and he is the NFL's all-time leader in yards per game with an 84.7 average should land him a lucrative extension.


    "Well, I hope so," he says. "I would like to think they would (pay me). If not, someone will."


    Part of Holt's optimism about the Rams' prospects for '08 stems from the hiring of Al Saunders as offensive coordinator. Saunders was St. Louis' receivers coach in Holt's first two seasons, when the fleet, smooth No. 1 draft pick from North Carolina State helped the Rams win their first Super Bowl (during his '99 rookie campaign) and set numerous team offensive records.


    Saunders, who later thrived as the Chiefs' offensive coordinator, brings a complex playbook. That and the coach's links to the Greatest Show On Turf glory days with the offseason departure of wideout Isaac Bruce, who signed with the ***** after being released, Holt is the last remaining skill player from the Super Bowl team have Holt dreaming of a renaissance.


    "As an offensive player, it's not just about lifting weights and learning the highlights of your position and recognizing the defense," Holt says. "It's about knowing every little detail about your position, and about the offense, and out-preparing your opponents. When we were called the Greatest Show On Turf, we had great coaches and great players. But one of the reasons we were so good was we paid great attention to detail. Now you see that with the Patriots and Colts and teams that have taken their offense to the next level. We're trying to get back to that and to get our respect back."


    Last year the Rams' offensive line was decimated by injuries, which kept quarterback Marc Bulger from replicating his Pro Bowl success of '06. With some decent health up front and a positive resolution to the contract impasse between the team and star halfback Steven Jackson, who is holding out for a new deal, St. Louis has a chance to avoid the misery it experienced a year ago.


    The relentlessly steady Holt, one of two NFL players (along with the Colts' Marvin Harrison) to have more than one season with at least 1,600 receiving yards, is ready to do his part.


    "When I got here last year, I saw what a professional Torry was, but I didn't see the mind-blowing skills I expected," Bennett says. "That's obviously because his knee wasn't right. What I see this summer is the real Torry Holt, and it's scary how good he looks."


    Says Holt: "Man, my knee feels three times better than it did a year ago. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, and I still have some soreness and swelling, but it's really feeling strong. I'm going in thinking this is going to be an outstanding year, for our football team and for me personally. This offense fits right in with what I like to do getting vertical, stopping on a dime, making quick cuts. It's almost like UNLV back in the day, or when Magic was with the Lakers. I just want to get out on the wing and do my thing."


  2. #2
    thoey's Avatar
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    Re: Summer heat has allowed Rams' Holt to thaw

    Ah crap. Here we go again...
    This space for rent...

  3. #3
    AtlantaRamFan's Avatar
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    Re: Summer heat has allowed Rams' Holt to thaw

    "But my thing is, I signed a deal, and I have to honor that deal."

    I wish more players operated along these lines...

  4. #4
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    Re: Summer heat has allowed Rams' Holt to thaw

    I have to say this does not paint Holt in a very flattering light. I'm glad to hear his knee is better than it was last year. I'm not glad to hear this (expletive) about his (expletive) performance last season and the (expletive) off-season training. You got a problem with that (expletive)? Well, he'll just tell you to (expletive) off.

  5. #5
    RamOfDenmark Guest

    Re: Summer heat has allowed Rams' Holt to thaw

    I wonder how much he's spending if he thinks $42 million is underpaid, I reckon a fraction of that would be enough to last a lifetime even if you're kind of a slob with it.

    In general he doesn't sound like he's in the best (expletive) mood, although he seems very enthusiastic about the improvement to his knee.

    Let's hope the good old "winning cures everything" holds true.

  6. #6
    IzzyHigh1212 Guest

    Re: Summer heat has allowed Rams' Holt to thaw

    Lol @ you guys making a big deal about him cussing. Who doesn't? Especially if you play football...pro football at that.

    Doesn't Tiger Woods have a REALLY bad mouth when he's not on TV?

  7. #7
    Goldenfleece's Avatar
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    Re: Summer heat has allowed Rams' Holt to thaw

    It's not about the cussing. It's about the attitude. If it was in the context of "We're going to be ****ing awesome this year", that wouldn't be a problem. When it's in the context of how they better not give him grief about missing OTAs, that's not exactly what you want to hear from your star receiver.

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