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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Witherspoon Excels in Many Roles

    Sunday, November 18, 2007
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    SAN FRANCISCO – It won’t be long before the Rams are asking linebacker Will Witherspoon to catch passes, throw the ball or even sell peanuts.

    In the ever evolving role Witherspoon plays in defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s defense, Witherspoon continues to excel at just about everything he does.

    Last week against New Orleans, Haslett asked Witherspoon to do his best Lawrence Taylor impression and get after quarterback Drew Brees almost exclusively as a pass rusher.

    Sunday against the *****, Haslett asked his own personal defensive Swiss Army Knife to do a little of everything. And once again, Witherspoon answered the call to the tune of seven tackles, a sack, a quarterback hurry and three passes defended in unofficial pressbox statistics.

    It was just the latest in a string of virtuoso performance that have showed the rest of the league that Witherspoon is a force that needs to be accounted for.

    “I think the guy that made a statement was Will Witherspoon again,” Haslett said. “If the guy is not in the Pro Bowl there is something wrong with this league. The guy is a heck of a football player.”

    Considering the Rams’ struggles in the win column, it’s easy to overlook the kind of season Witherspoon has had and he might be left out on the opportunity to go to Hawaii, but there’s plenty of evidence to build a strong case for his first Pro Bowl appearance.

    Witherspoon leads the Rams in tackles with 90 tackles and four sacks. He’s added two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, but it’s what he has done in recent weeks that has really proved his value.

    With top pass rusher Leonard Little out for the season because of a toe injury, Haslett turned to Witherspoon as his primary pressure cooker off the edge. Witherspoon’s sack in the second quarter was his third in as many games, a habit Witherspoon hopes to continue.

    “Hopefully they become a normal, day to day event,” Witherspoon said. “It was just good play calling at the right time.”

    Haslett said last week that other than Little, Witherspoon was the best on the team at staying tight when he rushes off the edge. That is high praise for someone who hasn’t been used regularly on the edge since high school.

    But Witherspoon’s recent wave of excellence hasn’t been limited to pass rushing. In his second year at middle linebacker, he says he is much more comfortable than he was at this time a year ago.

    Instead of thinking about something then acting on it, Witherspoon is reacting and making plays all over the field. With Sunday’s game on the line and the ***** driving for a potential winning touchdown, Witherspoon dropped back and nearly made an acrobatic one-handed catch for an interception to ice the game.

    Midway through the third quarter, the ***** had a third-and-1 at their 31. A season ago, a handoff to running back Frank Gore was an easy first down against the Rams. This time, he got the chance and Witherspoon met him head on, drove him back and San Francisco had to punt.

    Witherspoon’s impact is not going without notice as his teammates say they feed off his example and his effort on a daily basis.

    “I saw him hit and go backwards and I’m thinking ‘yeah,’” linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. “He’s so versatile. You can put him anywhere on the field and he will find a way to get through. He is making some huge plays.”

    BACK TO FORM: Kicker Jeff Wilkins got off to a rough start this season, especially on outdoor surfaces. After going four-of-nine on field goals at outdoor stadiums to start the season, Wilkins converted both of his opportunities against San Francisco on Sunday.

    Wilkins booted a 49-yard field goal in the second quarter and hit a 35-yarder in the final quarter to give the Rams enough points.

    Wilkins also performed well on kickoffs with one exception. Wilkins had been kicking to the corner of the end zone to set up coverage schemes most of the day, but his boot out of bounds in the fourth quarter set up a San Francisco field goal.

    Coach Scott Linehan said the kick was not intended to be a squib kick.

    “He just missed it,” Linehan said. “He had some really good kicks and he just missed the ball. It was not a squib.”

    Wilkins is now 19-of-25 on field goals in 2007 and has missed only one kick in the past four contests. He also made a bit of history with his performance Sunday. Wilkins passed Mark Mosley for 18th place on the NFL’s career scoring list and moved past Mosley and Matt Bahr for 18th place in terms of career field goals.

    INJURY REPORT: In an announcement that was as shocking as any Linehan has made in his weekly postgame press briefings, there was nothing to report on the injury front from Sunday’s victory.
    \
    “For once I don’t have to stand up here and talk about a whole slew of injuries,” Linehan said. “We have a couple guys that need to get healed up this week, but nothing significant.”

    Center Brett Romberg was limited in practice last week and his status for Sunday was uncertain heading into the game because of a sprained ankle.

    Romberg was declared inactive before the game, giving him another week to heal up and rest.

    RAM BITS: The Rams’ victory against San Francisco was No. 500 in franchise history, making them the sixth team in NFL history to accomplish the feat. Chicago, Green Bay, the New York Giants, Washington and Pittsburgh are the other members of the 500-win club…Isaac Bruce’s 15-yard reception in the first quarter vaulted him past receivers coach Henry Ellard into sixth place on the all time receiving yards list (see related story for more). Bruce also passed Cris Carter for 20th place o the all time scrimmage yards list

    Receiver Torry Holt also made some history, passing Rod Smith for 18th on the all time receiving yards list and moved past Marshall Faulk for 19th place on the all time receptions list…Aside from Romberg, the Rams other inactives were receivers Marques Hagans, Brandon Williams and Travis Taylor as well as linebacker Tim McGarigle, tackle Mark LeVoir, tight end Dominique Byrd and defensive end Trevor Johnson…Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin was the lone inactive of note for San Francisco.


  2. #2
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Re: Witherspoon Excels in Many Roles

    Spoon behind a bigger D-line is big enough to man the middle IMO.

  3. #3
    moloch41's Avatar
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    Re: Witherspoon Excels in Many Roles

    I doubt if he'll make the ProBowl. No one really Ooohhhs and Ahhhhhs about the Rams defense. Willlis or Barnett will probably be the starter in the NFC and the other the back up. He might get in on the outside...

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    Re: Witherspoon Excels in Many Roles

    Barret Ruud is also having one heck of a season. I also want to say that spoon in the middle is perfect. Putting him in the middle with our improved dline gives him the ability to make plays on both sidelines. Thats what you want out of your best/middle linebacker. A guy who can be in on every play. Putting him on one side could limit this.

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    AlphaRam is offline Registered User
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    Re: Witherspoon Excels in Many Roles

    Witherspoon better continue making big plays. In the game against Dallas, instead of going after Romo, he turned back upfield to do who knows what. That is when Romo broke the big run on the bad snap that went over his head.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Re: Witherspoon Excels in Many Roles

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    Sunday, November 18, 2007
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    SAN FRANCISCO:

    BACK TO FORM: Kicker Jeff Wilkins got off to a rough start this season, especially on outdoor surfaces.

    Wilkins also performed well on kickoffs with one exception. Wilkins had been kicking to the corner of the end zone to set up coverage schemes most of the day, but his boot out of bounds in the fourth quarter set up a San Francisco field goal.

    Coach Scott Linehan said the kick was not intended to be a squib kick.

    “He just missed it,” Linehan said. “He had some really good kicks and he just missed the ball. It was not a squib.”
    Huh? What? This isn't golf. There aren't any mulligans in the NFL. It's not like Wilkins is trying to hit a Nolan Ryan fastball. He missed it??? Huh? What? I think it's time to start looking for a new kicker for the 2008 season. Money has slid down the other side of the curve this season a bit.

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