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  1. #1
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    Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    By Brett Knight | August 14th, 2007

    As the preseason keeps rolling toward Sep. 9, Brett Knight of RAMblings has decided to examine three players in line for make-or-break seasons in 2007. We already looked at Claude Wroten in a previous column; today, we examine guard Richie Incognito.

    For his last name, Richie Incognito sure has attracted a lot of attention in his two years (heís entering his third) with the Rams.

    Unfortunately for Rams fans, thatís more to do with Incognitoís head than his play on the field.

    No one will dispute Incognitoís physical tools. A Rams third-round pick in 2005, Incognito didnít make it on the field as a rookie after going on injury reserve and played inconsistently in his 16 starts last year. But the 6′2″, 330-pound Incognito can line up at any position on the line and has the strength, mobility and body type to succeed as an NFL starter. Heck, he can even long snap. In short, thereís good reason Incognito was the first freshman starter on the offensive line in Nebraska history.

    But, as Albert Camus so famously put it, there is no light without shadow. I donít want to judge (partially out of fear for my own safety), but I feel like Iíd be using a softer term for Incognito with ďheadcaseĒ than the general public seems inclined to use.

    Incognito was suspended in 2004 by Nebraskaís new coaching staff after controversy over a fight off campus; this was one of several incidents tied to the Cornhuskers star. Incognito transferred to Oregon but left before ever lining up for a snap. Then, after two years out of football, newly drafted Incognito held out for a larger signing bonus, finally signing as the last 2005 draftee to come to terms.

    In 2006, Incognito proved that his hothead affected his on-field play as much as his off-field antics. NFL.comís Prospect Profile of Incognito notes that he is over-aggressive at times in his pass blocking, overextending himself and losing leverage. Though his run blocking was far superior to his work on passing downs in 2006, Incognito often leaned into defenders, allowing them to slip off his blocks. One scouting report by the Sporting News on Incognito reads: ďHis inability to control his emotions is a major concernÖ he must improve his technique and play under control before he can become a reliable starter.Ē

    It was no surprise, then, that Incognito was an integral member of the Ramsí only brawl of training camp. As our friend baker reported in some camp notes published earlier, the skirmish started after a goal-line stick on Steven Jackson, and Incognito was one of the first to rush into the fray.

    Afterward, Incognito covered pretty well for himself, saying

    Iím like the sheriff, keeping things cool. Iím not taking matters into my own hands, but when something goes down and people are punching at your running back, you have to step inÖ Thatís our job, to protect Steven. It was a high testosterone situation. Things escalate real quickÖ Itís not a macho thing. Itís more of a right and wrong thing. Donít touch Steven. Itís not about me being a tough guy.

    Noble, of course. But it characterizes Incognitoís play in his short Rams career: passionate and well-intentioned but out of control.

    Incognitoís career in St. Louis is guaranteed for the short-term. The unit played well in two series against Minnesota, especially during passing plays, and the Rams lack enough quality depth at guard to do anything drastic with Incognito. But his grace period is starting to wear thin with some around St. Louis, and if he doesnít manage to show substantial improvement and keep it together this year, there may be calls for his ousting. Thatís a distraction that this team does not want to deal with.

    The way I see it, there are two possible paths Incognitoís career could take him down (assuming he remains an NFL starter, even if not in St. Louis). On the one hand, Incognito could emulate Olin Kreutz, the talented Bears center and six-time Pro Bowler. Here is another guy whoís had some off-field anger issues - most famously breaking teammate Fred Millerís jaw in 2005 - but Kreutz has used that fire to his benefit, earning a reputation for an explosive first step, a knack for picking up defenders downfield and excellent toughness.

    The other pathÖ Well, itís not so pretty. Iím referring to Kyle Turley, the immensely talented Chiefs tackle formerly of the Saints and Rams. Turley, the seventh overall pick in the 1998 draft, is probably best known for ripping off Damien Robinsonís helmet in a 2001 on-field altercation (after Robinson had grabbed Aaron Brooksí facemask during the play). Turley was nearly cut after the game by current Rams coordinator, then Saints head coach Jim Haslett, and his reputation - Turley was already known as a dirty player - suffered an insurmountable hit. In his subsequent stint with the Rams, Turley allegedly threatened to kill Mike Martz and was investigated by the league. Turley never once was voted to the Pro Bowl.

    Itís a testament to Incognito that we can even mention him in the same breath as Turley - and in only his third year in the league at that - but for all the wrong reasons. Incognito is still young enough that he may work his issues out and become the elite lineman he once projected to be. But more than any other Ram, this season is make-or-break for Incognito.

    Letís just hope the breaking wonít be inflicted on anybody else.


  2. #2
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    Re: Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    Wow! Do you think this writer is over acting enough? The last time I checked football was still a MAN's sport, with guys getting physical and tempers sometimes flaring a little out of control. This guy is trying to make Incognito out to be like PAC-man Jones or Tank Johnson or somebody. Incognito has had a few misshaps but nothing that warrants this type of an attack, screw this writer.

  3. #3
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    Re: Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    WOW, this column is taking a harsh angle with Ritchie that I think is premature at this point. Just because he stepped in, ( as others did ), with the Steven Jackson practice rumble doesn't mean, in my mind anyway, that there is cause for concern. Yes Ritchie is an emotional guy, and has a quicker hot button than let's say Alex laid back Barron, but I think he's on track and keeping his emotions in check and funneling them where they need to be.
    He stepped in as center last year when McCollum went down with no emotional problems, just filling in where coach needed him, then slid over to right guard when Romberg stepped in at center. Sounds as though he's a guy that will take one for the team and do whatever the coaches want him to do, rather than moan and groan about being moved around.
    I think this is a year in which he turns into the player he can be or his play is effected by his emotions, but not as the writers angle dictates.

    A lineman with a mean nasty streak is a GREAT player to have on the line, taking care of business when there is business to be taken care of.

    Maineram -

  4. #4
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    Re: Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    I'm looking over the list of players who have been suspended this year OR have an expected suspension coming, and oddly enough, I don't see Cogs name anywhere.

    Sounds like a slow newsday at RAMblings.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  5. #5
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    Re: Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    With all due respect to those who disagree, this is the NFL and it would be a huge shame if this guy were to tone down any of his "nastiness". At the end of the year, if he contributes to us rushing for 130 yards a game, pancakes a dozen poor saps, and gets two personal foul penalties for throwing his helmet, I am perfectly happy with it. He's not a criminal, he just has a mean streak. Isn't that what you want in an offensive lineman?

    If he starts getting 15-yard penalties every game, then it's a problem. If he wants to kick some tail in a bar somewhere, who cares ...

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    Re: Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maineram View Post
    ...Doesn't mean, in my mind anyway, that there is cause for concern. Yes Ritchie is an emotional guy, and has a quicker hot button than let's say Alex laid back Barron, but I think he's on track and keeping his emotions in check and funneling them where they need to be.

    ...A lineman with a mean nasty streak is a GREAT player to have on the line, taking care of business when there is business to be taken care of.

    Maineram -

    Agreed! Well said.

    Ritchie is a smart, tough, young man. He has surely learned from the mistakes of others, e.g., Turley, and I fully trust in him to become an excellent OL in the NFL (as it is he is already on his way).

    Yes, though well written, the article couldn't avoid the taste of sensationalism at the expense of Incognito.

    :bash:
    Go for it Ritchieeeeee!

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    Re: Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    the original article is trash so i aint gonna waste too much time on it but all i`ll say is in 3 years time Richie is gonna be in the Top 2 or 3 Guards in the NFL,i cant see him being better than Hutchinson in that time unless Hutch gets banged up and his skill level drops but cogs has certainly got it in him to be as good as any of the others in the league and i think he will be!

    i just hope Barron steps up this year......

  8. #8
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    Re: Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    The interesting angle on richie that the article doesnt mention is his contract status. I thought he signed a three year deal. Will we sign him long term at the end of this season? Locking him up long term could be a significant offseason agenda item next year.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


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    Re: Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    Writer was probably a ****** fan.

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    Re: Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew View Post
    the original article is trash so i aint gonna waste too much time on it but all i`ll say is in 3 years time Richie is gonna be in the Top 2 or 3 Guards in the NFL,i cant see him being better than Hutchinson in that time unless Hutch gets banged up and his skill level drops but cogs has certainly got it in him to be as good as any of the others in the league and i think he will be!

    i just hope Barron steps up this year......
    Right On!!! If there is somebody that needs to improve its A.Barron not Cog. This article is way off in my opinion
    :r:l:r

  11. #11
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    Re: Will 2007 break Incognito, or the other way around?

    i love big ol incognito

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