Thomas: Rams Come Back To Chamberlain
Rams come back to Chamberlain
BY JIM THOMAS
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The Rams signed three free-agent linebackers, all with NFL starting experience, shortly after the lockout was lifted in late July. They drafted another (Jabara Williams) in the seventh round last April.
So for a while during training camp, Chris Chamberlain was so far down on the depth chart, he needed a periscope to see the playing field.
"During training camp there for a while, we had 11 or 12 linebackers," Chamberlain said. "Four WIL (weakside) linebackers, and they are all really good players, could be starters in this league. So it was kind of a crazy time."
Even though he led the Rams in special teams tackles in each of his first three seasons in St. Louis (2008-10), Chamberlain didn't even seem assured of a final roster spot as the preseason progressed. But he didn't fret; he just kept working.
"Our job is just to go out every day and do what we're asked to do, and stay focused," Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain made the final 53, and five games into the 2011 season, he found himself in the starting lineup against Green Bay. One of those free agents, Zac Diles, didn't make the final roster. Another of the free agents, Ben Leber, was benched after three lackluster starts, giving way to Chamberlain.
Chamberlain played well enough against the Packers, sharing the team lead with seven tackles, that he was back in the starting lineup this past Sunday in Dallas.
"You know one thing about 'Chambo,' " coach Steve Spagnuolo said after the Packers' game. "I've always felt this way about him —he's a very productive guy. He plays the game fast."
Against the Cowboys, he was among the Rams' leading tacklers with six. He graded out well in both games (although he did miss a tackle against Dallas).
"It's nice to be given this opportunity," Chamberlain said. "I'm just hoping to be able to take advantage of it and play my best for the team and help us get some wins."
Chamberlain, a seventh-rounder taken No. 228 overall, is one of only three players from the Rams' draft class of 2008 still with the team. The others: defensive end Chris Long and cornerback Justin King. From his earliest days with the Rams, even preceding the current coaching staff, Chamberlain showed good range and the potential to have good coverage skills. Undersized by NFL standards when he entered the league, Chamberlain has since bulked up some, although he's not a monster at 6-1, 238.
The University of Tulsa product didn't start in the NFL until last season, when the Rams went through one weakside linebacker after another; Chamberlain got his turn, with six starts over the second half of the season. He looks more comfortable this season, in his second go-round in the starting lineup.
"Yeah, it definitely helps knowing that you've been there before and done that ... learning from prior experiences," Chamberlain said.
Being healthy helps, too. In the 2010 season opener against Arizona, Chamberlain suffered a torn ligament in his big toe. He was in a cast or walking boot for six weeks. "And that was kind of a nagging thing all year," he said.
He didn't return to game action until late October of last season and promptly suffered a wrist injury, which meant another cast. So far this season, he has avoided the injury bug and is feeling good — at least as good as someone playing for an 0-6 team can feel.
Chamberlain's two most recent starts came against the NFL's No. 4 (Green Bay) and No. 6 (Dallas) offenses. This Sunday, in a noon kickoff at the Edward Jones Dome, it's the league's second-ranked offense in New Orleans.
"Every week in this league, it seems like there's a huge challenge in front of you," Chamberlain said. "You're always playing against extremely talented guys."
Saints game on TV
Sunday's game against the 5-2 Saints has met NFL sellout requirements and will be televised locally (KTVI, Channel 2). Limited tickets remain available and can be purchased atTicketmaster.com, StLouisRams.com, or by calling (314) 726-7849.
Re: Thomas: Rams Come Back To Chamberlain
Lets hope this guy can be one of the bright spots for the Rams moving forward!!! :)