Young Linebackers Earn Jobs
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
As the final days of training camp wound down and the final cuts came upon coach Scott Linehan and the Rams, most everyone seemed to have a good grasp on how the final roster spots would shake out.
The linebacker position was no different as many presumed that the battle for the final spot at the position would come down to a choice between undrafted rookie Quinton Culberson and second-year player Tim McGarigle.
When the verdict came down from on high, though, both Culberson and McGarigle had landed on the final 53.
For Culberson, it was the culmination of the perfect training camp tale of the little known guy making good.
“I think the thing about a guy like that is you are earning the spot,” Linehan said. “He came here as an undrafted free agent out of college, has the measurables and ability to have been drafted. But for some reason he slipped through the cracks and we are fortunate to have a guy come in with the ability he has and also to be able to earn it and prove it in camp. It was not an easy task for him and he earned it. That’s what you are looking for. You are looking for guys to come out of nowhere and make your team and be one of the best 53.”
Culberson did that by making a strong impression early in camp with his ability to always be around the ball. Culberson’s nose for the ball helped him make a name among the coaching staff. And though his play leveled off some as the grind of camp caught up to him, he showed enough ability and versatility to get the job done.
“As a rookie free agent coming in playing for the Rams is a great feeling making the team,” Culberson said. “I thought about it a lot and I just know I did pretty good this preseason and I should have made the team.”
While McGarigle’s journey to the final 53 wasn’t quite as dramatic as Culberson’s, it was still a bit surprising. McGarigle was a seventh-round draft choice in 2006 and didn’t make the roster last season as he landed on the practice squad.
After a strong offseason in which he began to establish himself on the team, he suffered a hamstring injury early in the preseason and didn’t play in the first three games. By the time he was healthy, McGarigle had just one final chance to make his case.
“The coach says it is pretty much the bottom of the ninth and how we go out and play in that game will be judged on the final cut day,” McGarigle said. “I feel like that really gave me a chance.”
McGarigle showed up in a big way in his chance, coming up with an interception deep in Rams’ territory to keep the Chiefs out of the end zone. It was a strong performance, but it still left some apprehension for McGarigle on cut day.
“It was a stressful day,” McGarigle said. “But stuff changes every day so I was just going to try to give it my all every day and try to stay on this team.”
Culberson and McGarigle will most likely work on special teams and as backups for the first part of the season, but both know it’s just the first step on the way to a real NFL career.
“I’m not going to get too excited because this is a job and they can release people at any given time,” Culberson said. “I am just going to go out and continue to do the things I have been doing to make the team so far and just show coach what I can do.”
HOLT FEELING GOOD: During training camp, receiver Torry Holt was unsure of the status of his knee, saying it was about 80 percent.
But Holt has been practicing at full speed in the past two weeks and his condition is only improving. Doctors told Holt it would take about six months for him to get back to full speed. When August ended, so too did those six months and it appears those predictions were right on.
According to the head coach, Holt has looked outstanding in practice this week and if he had to put a number on his progress, he’d give Holt a perfect score.
“He looked 100 percent to me today,” Linehan said. “Let’s go with 100.”
Holt had surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee in February and has slowly but surely been recovering. Of course, he estimates that he played most of last season on a knee that wasn’t much better than about 60 percent so he’s already ahead of the game.
INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Will Witherspoon returned to practice Wednesday afternoon after a stomach illness kept him out of Tuesday’s workout. Witherspoon wasn’t limited at all in Wednesday’s practice.
Guard Richie Incognito continues to be limited in practice, doing little work in Wednesday’s workout as he continues to recover from a high ankle sprain. Doctors told Incognito his return would take about four weeks and he is closing in on three weeks. Still, Incognito is hoping to play this weekend against Carolina.
With Incognito out, Claude Terrell is taking the bulk of the reps at right guard with Milford Brown also getting some work.
Receiver Drew Bennett continues to work on coming back from a tight calf. Bennett was held out of Wednesday’s practice after missing Tuesday’s workout. Bennett is also expecting to play against the Panthers, but his status will be determined later in the week.
RAM BITS: Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for this weekend’s game against Carolina and the team needs a sellout by noon Thursday to avoid a blackout. There’s a good chance the Rams will reach that quotient one way or another but for those wanting tickets, you can do it here at stlouisrams.com, any TicketMaster outlet or by calling (314) 421-4400 in Missouri or (618) 222-2900 in Illinois…Should Bennett be unable to go, Linehan said the Rams would use Dante Hall or Dane Looker most likely in his place as the third receiver…Marques Hagans took some repetitions at quarterback Wednesday and he would likely be active if Bennett isn’t…Left tackle Orlando Pace says he is feeling at full strength and Linehan says he expects Pace to be his usual dominant self.
Re: Young Linebackers Earn Jobs
Wraith, would you please delete my thread -- same article -- altogether? I placed it almost the same time you posted yours, this one.