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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
    r8rh8rmike is offline Superbowl MVP
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    Wagoner: McNeil Making An Impression

    McNeill Making an Impression

    Nick Wagoner Senior Writer
    August 21, 2012

    In the moments immediately following last week’s victory against the Chiefs in the second preseason game, coach Jeff Fisher was asked about the play of tight end Lance Kendricks.

    Fisher gave the verbal tip of the cap to Kendricks for his performance, acknowledged the work of receiver Danny Amendola and then made special mention of another player who might not draw the headlines that those two starters do.

    “Even Mike McNeill made two tough catches there at the end to keep the drive alive,” Fisher said.

    For Amendola and Kendricks, getting noticed by the head coach probably doesn’t mean as much seeing as how they are in pretty firm positions to not only make the final roster but sit at the top of the depth chart.

    But for McNeill, a second-year tight end who spent the final two games with the Rams in 2011, the acknowledgement can’t be taken as anything less than a positive.

    See, McNeill is currently embroiled in one of the most heated competitions in this year’s training camp at tight end. Kendricks and veteran blocking specialist Matthew Mulligan figure to be safe and Michael Hoomanawanui likely is as well.

    Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s run heavy offense will likely require four tight ends considering that at least two are on the field more often than not. That figures to leave a potential fourth spot on the 53-man roster for a tight end.

    That spot is being hotly contested from a group that includes McNeill, Deangelo Peterson, Cory Harkey and Brody Eldridge. McNeill’s three-catch, 41-yard performance against the Chiefs shouldn’t hurt his cause.

    “Hopefully it helps,” McNeill said. “I have said it before. I can’t control ultimately what the decision is. I can just go out there and play the best that I can and hope they like what I’m doing.”

    Of course, McNeill has perhaps the most motivation of anyone to make the Rams. A product of Kirkwood High, he grew up a Rams fan and was a season ticket holder during the days of the “Greatest Show on Turf.”

    The mere mention of the idea of making the Rams and suiting up on Sundays after spending the bulk of his rookie season bouncing back and forth between Indianapolis’ active roster and practice squad, causes McNeill to light up.

    “It would just be an awesome feeling to get to come out and play for the Rams,” McNeill said. “There’s not anything better. No one can ask to play for the home team so that’s great. Nothing is final yet but it would definitely be really cool.”

    McNeill is the only player on the roster who gets home cooked meals from his mother during training camp. In fact, right after Tuesday’s practice he was on his way home to eat with mother Sally and father Allen.

    Although his family and friends are always curious about McNeill’s status with the team, they are all respectful of the fact that he really doesn’t know much more than they do at this point in the preseason.

    “I am sure we will talk about it,” McNeill said. “We talk every couple of days. They try not to be overwhelming because they know it’s a process and I’m not going to be able to tell them too much one day to the next.”

    In the meantime, McNeill is focused on doing what it takes to land a spot on the final roster. He’s even earned some reps with the first team in the first couple days of practice this week and is working to pinpoint every possible thing that could mean the difference between making the roster or potentially landing a practice squad spot.

    “(I) just (work) on little things, working on details, working on footwork, hand placement,” McNeill said. “I am doing some things better than others so I am working on the things I am not doing as well.”

    ROOKIE BACKS GETTING WORK: When the Rams spent second and seventh round picks on running backs Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson, respectively, the pecking order behind starter Steven Jackson was clear.

    So far in the preseason, that order has remained the same but with Jackson looking ready to go and not likely to get a lot more reps in the remaining preseason games, there could be some prime opportunities for Pead and Richardson against Dallas and Baltimore.

    Pead has been the first back to enter behind Jackson and found mixed results in the first two contests, carrying 16 times for 28 yards with a touchdown and making five catches for 6 yards.

    Richardson was impressive against the Chiefs and has rushed 12 times for 39 yards and a score in the opening games.

    Expect both to get plenty of work with the first and second units in the final two exhibition contests.

    “We’re going to try to put them in position where we can play them quite a bit in the next couple weeks,” Fisher said. “Jack showed that Jack’s ready to go this year. He came out of the blocks quick. We’re going to try to get him as many reps as we can. The staff has talked about trying to get their reps with the 1s. Get them in there and let them run behind with the first group.”

    SALAS STILL BATTLING: Receiver Greg Salas opened this training camp getting all kinds of work with the top two units offensively.

    But in the past couple of weeks, it seems Salas has found himself working with the third team and not getting as many opportunities. In the two preseason games, he’s been targeted only a few times with two catches for 7 yards.

    But Fisher said Salas isn’t falling off the radar.

    “No, he’s been solid,” Fisher said. “What you don’t’ see is his special teams contribution. He played well the other night. He’s been solid. It’s just a matter of fact that we just have a lot of guys out there, but he’s getting plenty of reps.”

    Salas has had a solid past couple of days of practice and figures to get more work this week against Dallas.

    WELLS TO PLAY?: Center Scott Wells made his return to the lineup on Monday but was dialed back a little bit on Tuesday as the teams put the pads on.

    “Yesterday no issues, his first day with shoulder pads on, he didn’t have any problems,” Fisher said. “He’s very excited to be back, as we are.”

    Wells had missed all of camp because of a knee scope he had in the spring and hadn’t been able to get fully rehabbed until recently.

    Last week, Wells did some individual work but on Monday and Tuesday, he was back in team drills. Fisher said Wells is on course to play against the Cowboys.

    “We’re going to see how he responds after today and tomorrow then make a decision,” Fisher said. “But it’s looking like he’ll be able to play.”


  2. #2
    Rambos's Avatar
    Rambos is offline Registered User
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    Re: Wagoner: McNeil Making An Impression

    SALAS STILL BATTLING: Receiver Greg Salas opened this training camp getting all kinds of work with the top two units offensively.

    But in the past couple of weeks, it seems Salas has found himself working with the third team and not getting as many opportunities. In the two preseason games, he’s been targeted only a few times with two catches for 7 yards.

    But Fisher said Salas isn’t falling off the radar.

    “No, he’s been solid,” Fisher said. “What you don’t’ see is his special teams contribution. He played well the other night. He’s been solid. It’s just a matter of fact that we just have a lot of guys out there, but he’s getting plenty of reps.”

    Salas has had a solid past couple of days of practice and figures to get more work this week against Dallas.
    Man I hope he does not get cut, I would be really bummed.

  3. #3
    Agrajag is offline Registered User
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    Re: Wagoner: McNeil Making An Impression

    I see Salas as a lock honestly.

    One thing for sure, Fisher is looking for options other than Amendola on special teams.

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