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Veteran helps younger players learn system
BY STEVE KORTE
ST. LOUIS - If not for the helmet on his head, backup quarterback Gus Frerotte could have been mistaken for one of the St. Louis Rams' assistant coaches during the team's minicamp this weekend.
"I'm sure he feel like he is one of the assistant coaches out there," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "He knows what I am going to want. He knows what I am going to watch, he knows what I am going to say about something. He is wearing another hat, but his role is to be our backup quarterback. He started nearly 80 or 90 games in the NFL now, so we know what he can do, and that if something every happens to Marc (Bulger) he could step in."
In his unofficial role as player-coach, the 34-year-old Frerotte has been helping the team's three other quarterbacks understand the offensive system being installed under Linehan.
"That's what I think I am sometimes, but I still get to come out here and throw the ball unlike the other coaches," Frerotte said. "I'm really lucky to be here."
Frerotte has spent the last three seasons -- 2003 and 2004 with the Minnesota Vikings and 2005 with Miami Dolphins -- working with Linehan
"It's got to be similar to what Coach (Mike) Martz was doing," Frerotte said of Linehan's offense. "It's attack. It's an aggressive offense. He likes to put pressure on the defense. We're going to look for the weak links. If their line is weak, then we're going to run the ball. If their secondary is weak, then we're going to throw it. We're going to have a good mix. By the end of the season, we'll have a pretty even run-to-pass ratio."
Frerotte said there is no pretense with Linehan, who says what he feels.
"What you see with Scott is what you get," Frerotte said. "He's a great guy, and I think the guys are going to really enjoy him. He can be hard at times and he can be easy at times."
Frerotte started 15 games for the Dolphins last season, but he's accepted the role of backup with the Rams.
"I'll be supportive of Marc, and if something happens, I'll be ready to play," Frerotte said.
Cornerbacks earn praise
Linehan spent some extra time watching the defensive backs during the minicamp, and he had nothing but praise for cornerbacks Fakhir Brown and Travis Fisher.
"He is a competitor, and he backs down to nobody," Linehan said of the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Brown who was signed as an unrestricted free agent from the New Orleans Saints. "He's a guy that has a rare athleticism, speed and size. The knock on him coming here was he wasn't able to stay completely healthy."
Linehan said he didn't think Fisher got beat on a deep ball during the entire minicamp.
"Fisher had an excellent camp," Linehan said. "He competed. He stepped up to the challenge. I think he knew we were challenging him to see where he was. I'm sure the entire secondary feels like they are being challenged based on how they played last year. They have a chip on their shoulders, and they all came to work with an idea that they have something to prove."
Middle linebacker Will Witherspoon, who missed practice on Saturday because he was attending a fundraiser, was back on the practice field on Sunday morning.
• Wide receiver-returner Brad Pyatt shed on Sunday the red jersey he had worn on Saturday after suffering back spasms. He took part in kickoff and punt return drills during the minicamp.
• Absent from the minicamp was the booming voice of defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who now holds the same position with the Buffalo Bills.
Kollar was constantly prodding defensive linemen to hustle during the Rams' practices the last five years.
"I miss Kollar," Rams linebacker Trev Faulk said. "Kollar was funny, but then I wasn't one of the guys who he was usually yelling at."