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Three battle for two spots with Rams
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, Aug. 22 2007
Travis Minor knows what it's like to be the feature back. He's the No. 3 career
rusher at Florida State, with 3,218 yards.
Rich Alexis knows the feeling, too. He led the Washington Huskies in rushing as
a junior and senior.
But both players also know that not everyone can be the star on every team.
Particularly in the NFL.
"You only have so many people on a football team," Minor said. "Everybody's not
In St. Louis, Steven Jackson is the big dog in the backfield, blossoming into
one of the league's top running backs after three NFL seasons. It seems almost
as clear that rookie Brian Leonard, a second-round draft pick, is firmly
ensconced as the Rams' No. 2 back.
Minor is clearly in the lead for one of two remaining spots
behind Jackson and Leonard, which would leave Alexis and Kay-Jay Harris
battling for the final spot.
Alexis joined the Rams late last season after spending most of the 2004, '05
and '06 seasons trying to crack the Jacksonville roster. Over that stretch,
Alexis appeared in only three games for the Jaguars, carrying three times for 5
"It was kind of hard to get on the field at Jacksonville," Alexis said. "It's
like Running Back U. there."
St. Louis marked a fresh start. But once Alexis checked out the landscape at
Rams Park, he must have felt he had transferred from Running Back U. ... to
Running Back Tech.
"Steven Jackson, everybody knows what he accomplished out here," Alexis said.
"And they brought in a young guy (Leonard) that's really good. And they've got
Travis Minor here. So I'm kind of back in the same situation."
With much more NFL experience than Alexis or Harris, Minor is on more solid
footing in terms of a final roster spot. Coach Scott Linehan seemed to concede
as much in discussing the competition at running back behind Jackson and
"We're trying to give them all as many looks as we can," Linehan said. "Rich
got a number of plays in this last game (against San Diego) ... And Kay-Jay got
more looks in the first game (against Minnesota)."
As for Minor?
"He's in a little different situation in my opinion," Linehan said. "He didn't
play at running back (against San Diego) because we know exactly what Travis
can bring to the table as a tailback.
"We know he can start a game or two if we needed him to. We know he brings a
lot of value on third down, just being that he's played and knows the
protections and all those things."
Linehan knows this first hand because he was offensive coordinator in Miami in
2005. Before signing with the Rams as a free agent in March, Minor played his
six previous NFL seasons with the Dolphins. Minor started only four games in
Miami but played enough there to carry 277 times for 1,133 yards and catch 50
passes for 353 yards.
Minor is small by NFL standards at 5 feet 10, 203 pounds — too small, most
would say, to be an every-down back. But Minor has survived in the NFL and
carved out a niche because of his special-teams play.
"He was basically the captain of our special teams in Miami when I was there,"
Linehan said. "He made all the calls on the punt team, was always in a key
blocking spot on the return teams."
In St. Louis, it looks as if Minor will be what's called the "off returner" on
kickoff returns — a combination blocker and secondary return man stationed near
Dante Hall. In that role, Minor will occasionally have a chance to return
kickoffs if the ball is kicked short or to one side of the field. Minor served
as the Dolphins' primary kickoff returner in 2002-03.
Re: Three battle for two spots with Rams
Travis Minor == Amp Lee?
Re: Three battle for two spots with Rams
a new amp lee would be awesome
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