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Weil's will lands him in Rams camp ..
Morris Daily Herald
By T.G. SMITH
Herald Sports Editor
MEQUON, WI - At the youngest of ages, he was toting the football and making tackles. Playing in a youth football league for the Chanooka Braves, Russ Weil began learning the gridiron game.
In high school at Minooka Community, Weil helped elevate the Indians to three state Illinois High School Association playoff appearances and his junior and senior years, he took individual honors on the wrestling mats by winning the IHSA's 215-pound weight bracket.
By the time college rolled around, he had caught the attention of the University of Illinois and eventually played four years as a member of the Fighting Illini, once again toting the pigskin and making tackles but along the way he also learned how to become a dynamic blocker. His four-year stint with the Illini culminated with an appearance in the Rose Bowl.
At present, Weil is learning about taking his game up another step after signing a free agent contract with the St. Louis Rams and reporting to their training camp last Friday.
“It's tough,” he said from camp at Concordia University after practice on Tuesday. “There's really a lot to learn and it's really fast paced.”
As he did from wearing the No. 12 for the Indians, to the No. 41 for the Illini, Weil is realistic about what the next step for him is as he dons the No. 38 for the Rams.
“The speed is easily the difference,” Weil said. “The playbook is a little bigger and the terminology is different. But right now, the biggest thing is adjusting to the speed.”
Weil is one of three fullbacks on the Rams' preseason squad with hopes of traveling south with the team when camp breaks and the team heads to St. Louis for the regular season. Assistant Head Coach and running backs coach Art Valero says that the competition should be interesting over the course of the preseason.
“We feel like we have pretty good running backs but you are limited to certain things if you don't have a fullback who can get up in there and dig linebackers out,” Valero said. “With Russ and Dan Cryder, I feel we have those people. We also have a guy in Brian Leonard who can play both (running back and fullback) and that's a plus. Between those three working off of each other and with each having different kinds of abilities, it's going to be a heck of a battle and it's going to be fun to watch.”
According to Head Coach Scott Linehan, Weil will need to be ready as both a fullback and as member of the special teams if he is going to make the team when the regular season dawns.
“Our fullback is used in regular and basically that's your first four personnel groupings. (Russ) is going to play a number of plays, whether it's on first down or in short yardage,” he said. “And the fullback has a big role on special teams and that's what Russ can do to contribute and make this team.”
During Tuesday's camp, Weil mainly worked in the backfield with the second team with Cryder, a nine-year veteran, taking most of the first team plays. Weil also worked on special team kick and punt blocking on returns during the walk-through without leaving the field and he also lined up as a defensive player on the right end as a pass rusher during field goal kicks.
He said after practice that he likes playing on special teams and that he is trying to get better in all phases of the game to impress the coaching staff.
“Yeah, definitely. I played a lot on special teams in college, so I'm very familiar with it,” he said. “The coaches told me I need to learn the plays, to be consistent at fullback and to get on special teams.”
Weil also stated at one time the “need to get better at everything that I do to compete at this level,” and that, according to Valero, is something that he appears to be taking to heart.
“He's done nothing but good things since he's been here. He's studied hard and he's a sponge in terms of things that he wants to know,” Valero said. “He wants to know everything about this game and everything about this offense. We've lined him up out in space as a wide receiver, we've put him in the backfield, we've put him in the backfield by himself and done a lot of different things with him.
“He has a great work ethic, which I think is a great example of what Illinois kids are. He practices with great effort and I think a lot of great things are going to happen for him,” he added
Re: Weil's will lands him in Rams camp ..
Nice story and a kid with a good attitude, but I just don't think he'll make the team with Kreider in camp. Hope he catches on somewhere though.
-08-01-2008 #3Registered User
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Re: Weil's will lands him in Rams camp ..
I hope they don't put too much emphasis on playing special teams for our FB. I want the best possible blocking FB on our roster, even if he is useless on special teams, I think it's that important to get a good blocker out in front of Jackson. Not everyone has to play special teams. If whoever is the best FB can also play special teams I see it as a plus, but that's all it is IMO, a plus not a strict requirement. Let's get the best possible blocking FB on this team so we can try to forget about losing Hedgecock.
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