Rams add safety, O-lineman in Round 4
BY JEFF GORDON
Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
Sunday, Apr. 24 2005

When new Rams secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer arrived at Rams Park, there
was a major safety crisis. The cupboards were bare at that critical position.

Hapless Rich Coady was moving on. Potential Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams was
done. Adam Archuleta faced a difficult recovery from a debilitating back injury.

How desperate was coach Mike Martz? He gave serious thought to moving
under-sized linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa back to safety, to better utilize his
run-stopping ability.

But that was then, this is now. The Rams have managed to restock the position
through free agency and the draft.

“Obviously it was an area of need for us,” Schottenheimer said Sunday morning,
moments after the Rams landed Florida State safety Jerome Carter in the fourth
round of the NFL Draft.

“We’re trying to get as much competition at that position as possible,” he
said. “I’m not a big believer in having camp guys. I want guys who are capable
of playing in the NFL.”

Schottenheimer was most impressed with Carter during the NFL scouting combine.
During his follow-up excursion to Tallahassee, the Florida State staff raved
about Carter’s work ethic and aggression.

“This young man has tremendous toughness,” Schottheimer said.

How does Carter describe his game? “Physical,” Carter said.

He joins third-round pick O.J. Atogwe from Stanford and free agents Michael
Hawthorne and Michael Stone as newcomers to the position. The Rams also added
rangy cornerback Ronald Bartell Jr. in the second round of the draft Saturday,
further strengthening the secondary.

“Atogwe, I love the way he plays the game,” Schottenheimer said. “He has great
instincts to the ball, good ball skills. He plays the game fast. You have to be
able to run the defense (at safety) and I think he’ll be able to do that.”

The Rams have sought safeties capable of stuffing the run AND excelling in
coverage AND setting the tempo in kick coverage on special teams.

Martz told reporters that the traditional concept of “strong side” and “weak
side” safeties no longer applies to what the Rams do with their defense. Given
the versatility of the today’s NFL loffenses, defenses needed to counter with
“right” and “left” safeties equally adept against the run or pass.

“You have to have all of it,” Schottenheimer said. “I don’t want a guy who is
good against the run, but not the pass. The game is played in space. (Carter)
can play in space. He doesn’t have any limitations against the run or the pass.”

Unlike some of the fellas who played the position last year . . .


* * *

Later in the fourth round, the Rams added guard/tackle Claude Terrell of New
Mexico, a 6-foot-2, 343-pound power blocker.

He joined first-day draft picks Alex Barron and Richie Incognito in shoring up
the offensive line depth. “It is very exciting,” offensive line coach John
Matsko said. “We’re very excited about the guys we’ve added.”

Terrell, Matsko said, “is big and strong, has power, brute force . . . is
nasty.”

Since Incognito won’t be ready for the start of training camp -– he needs
surgery to repair a kneecap injury -– Terrell could make himself a factor this
summer. He played guard at New Mexico before moving over to strong side tackle
last season.

“We’re going to like this kid,” Matsko promised. “He’s going to be a good fit
for us.”