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Vobora makes team as roster is cut to 53
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The Rams have deemed David Vobora relevant.
Vobora, dubbed "Mr. Irrelevant" because he was the last player selected in April's seven-round NFL draft, survived the last cuts Saturday and landed a spot on the 53-man roster. Vobora, a linebacker from the University of Idaho, is the first "Mr. Irrelevant" to make a club out of training camp since 2000.
The weeklong "Irrelevant Week" festivities in June in Newport Beach, Calif., were "a blast," Vobora said. But Saturday's news surely eclipsed any of the prizes that were bestowed upon him then.
None of the Rams' 2007 draft picks was waived, although cornerback Justin King, a fourth-rounder, will miss the season after injuring his toe in the preseason opener.
The Rams didn't make an official announcement, but the final roster was confirmed by team sources.
The last 13 cuts contained no major surprises, even two 2006 draftees were among them: offensive lineman Dustin Fry (fifth round) and wide receiver Derek Stanley (seventh round).
A pair of veteran free agents, wide receiver Reche Caldwell, 29, and cornerback David Macklin, 30, failed to stick. So did St. Louisan Brandon Williams, a wideout-returner from Hazelwood East High.
Undrafted rookie Lance Ball was the Rams' leading rusher during the four preseason contests, with 131 yards on 37 carries and two touchdowns. But that wasn't enough to earn him a job.
Others released were defensive end C.J. Ah You, quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, tackle Mark LeVoir, linebacker Marc Magro, cornerback Darius Vinnett, fullback Russ Weil and tackle Julius Wilson.
After the Rams determined that Brock Berlin had earned the No. 3 quarterback job, they tried to put together a trade involving Gradkowski on Saturday.
Some of the younger players who were released could return to the Rams as members of the eight-man practice squad if they clear waivers by Sunday afternoon.
Vobora's fellow seventh-rounder, former Tulsa linebacker Chris Chamberlain, was the team's top tackler in the preseason games and also showed strong coverage skills. His roster spot probably has been safe for a couple of weeks.
Coach Scott Linehan compared Chamberlain with Quinton Culberson, who made the team last year as an undrafted rookie and during camp this year nailed down the starting job at strongside linebacker.
Like Culberson, Chamberlain "showed up when we played the games; he just always seemed to make tackles," Linehan said. "It's when the lights come on that your best players seem to really shine. ... I think that's what happens with a guy like him."
When camp opened, offensive lineman Nick Leckey was a long shot to make the team, let alone become a starter. Yet barring unexpected developments this week, Leckey will be in the lineup at center when the Rams open the regular season next Sunday at Philadelphia.
An opening was created when the leading candidates for the first-team job were hurt. Incumbent Brett Romberg broke his hand early in camp and still has difficulty making snaps, and Mark Setterstrom suffered a season-ending knee injury Aug. 16 vs. San Diego.
Leckey exploited his unexpected opportunity, Linehan noted, starting with the practices the Rams shared with the Titans earlier this month.
"He stepped up against some really good tackles and had a great couple of days there, and I thought he played great from then on," Linehan said.
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