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Draft Notebook .. St Louis Globe-Democrat

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  • Draft Notebook .. St Louis Globe-Democrat

    By Steve Overbey

    Sunday, April 25, 2010

    Brian Westbrook, a former standout running back with the Philadelphia Eagles, took a physical with the Rams on Saturday.

    Head coach Steve Spagnuolo, who previously was an assistant coach with the Eagles, cautioned reporters that Westbrook coming to town for the physical did not guarantee that he would be signing with the Rams.

    "Brian is here just because we want to do the physical," Spagnuolo noted. "We want to do that part of it. But then we'll see where it goes from there. It’s way, way early in the stage."

    The 30-year-old Westbrook, a former Pro Bowler, was released by Philadelphia in February. He suffered two concussions in 2009 and missed eight games because of the concussions and an ankle injury.

    Westbrook has rushed for 5,995 yards on 1,308 carries in his career. He said last week that he does not plan to retire.

    The Green Bay Packers, along with the Rams, are among the three or four teams that have shown interest in Westbrook.

    The Rams did not select any running backs during the draft.

    More new players: The Rams' work didn’t stop when the draft ended Saturday. The team reportedly agreed to terms with 11 undrafted free agents Saturday night. The list was unofficial, and nothing was announced by the team.

    In a list compiled from various web sites and Twitter messages, the following players were said to have come to terms with the Rams:

    Thaddeus Lewis, a quarterback from Duke; Brandon McRae, a wide receiver from Mississippi State; Simoni Lawrence, a linebacker from Minnesota; DeMaundray Woolridge, a running back from Idaho; Jimmy Jones, a safety from Idaho; Rod Owens, a wide receiver from Florida State; Jamie McCoy, a tight end from Texas A&M, Keith Toston, a running back from Oklahoma State; A.J. Jefferson, a cornerback from Fresno State; Adrian Davis, a defensive end from Arkansas, and Kennedy Tinsley, a linebacker-fullback from North Carolina.

    In addition, running back Alex Henderson of Northern Arizona signed a tryout contract for the mini-camp with the Rams. Offensive lineman Nick Ekbatani from UCLA will be coming to town for a free-agent tryout, the university announced.

    Rookie minicamp on tap: The Rams will hold their rookie camp this weekend. All of the players drafted the past few days will be present, in addition to the undrafted free agents. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said six non-rookies that don't have a credited season will also be at the minicamp.

    Those players are believed to be defensive tackle Chris Bradwell, cornerback Marcus Brown, wide receivers Travis Brown and Nick Moore, tight end Eric Butler, guard Mark Lewis, tackles Ryan McKee and Eric Young, wide receiver/cornerback Cord Parks and quarterback Mike Reilly.

    In advance of the camp, which will include time on the field and even more in the classroom, rookies are given some of the playbook hat they can start getting familiar. Asked about quarterback Sam Bradford being given "take-home" work, coach Steve Spagnuolo said, “We did. As a matter of fact, I’ll tell you what happens now. (Offensive coordinator) Pat (Shurmur) and (quarterbacks coach) Dick (Curl) sat with him. He’s got a reduced playbook of some things to study and he will.

    "What we do with all of our draft picks is if they didn’t come here to give that to them, like we did with Rodger (Saffold) and Jerome (Murphy), we overnight it to them. Not a lot of information, but just something to get them started. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday evening, we’ll do phone meetings. So we did that with Sam as well. Just a little bit. Just a way to get a head start.”

    Tigers to the NFL: Three Missouri players who were not drafted agreed to terms with NFL teams Saturday night as free agents, the university announced. Wide receiver Jared Perry agreed to terms with the San Francisco *****, defensive tackle Jaron Baston came to terms with Denver, and guard Kurtis Gregory was signed by the Carolina Panthers.

    Wide receiver Denario Alexander was not drafted, and reportedly will have to pass a physical exam before he will be able to sign with an NFL team. He reinjured his knee at the Senior Bowl and has said he should be able to run at full speed by the beginning of June.

    Juice Williams gets tryout: Illinois quarterback Juice Williams agreed to a tryout contract Saturday night with the Chicago Bears.

    Another Illinois player, Jeff Cumberland, a tight end, agreed to terms on a free-agent deal with the New York Jets.

    Two Lindenwood Lions sign: Two Lindenwood football players signed free-agent contracts following the draft. Wide receiver Marcel Thompson signed with the San Diego Chargers and wide receiver Roren Thomas, a graduate of Soldan High School, agreed to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Thompson transferred to Lindenwood as a junior. In two seasons, he had 83 receptions for 1,342 yards and 12 touchdowns. Last season, he was second on the team with 53 receptions and 844 receiving yards, and was third with seven receiving touchdowns. Thompson had three 100-yard receiving games in 2009.

    Thomas played one year for the Lions. He caught 37 passes for 409 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 236 yards and three scores. He was also a kick returner, averaging 22.3 yards on kickoff returns, 18.5 yards on punt returns, and scoring three return touchdowns.

    Devaney pleased but tired: Rams general manager Billy Devaney was pleased - yet tired - at the end of the lengthy three-day draft.

    "Do you fill every need going in, or course not?," he said. "You miss on some guys. But I feel good about the way the whole thing went. Was it perfect? Of course not. No draft is ever perfect. But I feel great about the way the three days went."

    After the Rams selected five offensive players among the first seven picked, the final four were all on the defensive side of the ball.

    Coach Steve Spagnuolo joked that it happened because, "You guys didn’t know; I cornered Billy earlier today.”

    Said Devaney, “I was tired. At that point I said, ‘Just do whatever. Just move.’ He got me at a weak moment.”

    In all seriousness, talking about the new draft format, Devaney said, "We’re going to do it again next year it sounds like. That was a long three days, man." NFL Writer Howard Balzer contributed to this report.

  • #2
    Re: Draft Notebook .. St Louis Globe-Democrat

    A.J. Jefferson signed with the Arizona Cardinals not the St. Louis Rams


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      by: Anthony L. Gargano

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      ST. LOUIS -- The day that would shape the man's future moved mercifully toward finality as he dashed from the darkened team headquarters through the steady spring rain to his SUV in the parking spot labeled "Head Coach". Following months of torturous deliberation that sent him and the staff cross country and back, sifting through endless possibilities in the name of due diligence, they had made their decision.

      Nothing left to do now but embrace hope and kiss it up to the fates.

      Entranced by a lonely, wet highway and the rhythmic movement and hum of overworking windshield wipers, the man momentarily slipped into reflective thought midway into his 40-minute drive home to the city. He didn't appear to notice the muffled radio program in the background that talked of the night's events -- quite enthusiastically, by the way. He figured the town would happily comply with their selection, and that was always welcome, given the importance of public opinion to the industry.

      Still, though, the fickle nature of it meant that if somehow the 22-year-old quarterback who played two games and change last year didn't become the franchise as planned for the St. Louis Rams, everyone would forget how they felt at this moment and call ingloriously for his hide.

      The man could handle the torchbearers. The notion of failure, he couldn't stomach that. He didn't sacrifice his life for the coaching calling to lose. Without kin in the game, he landed his own sprawling office with the two desks -- one for the many business details of coaching football in the NFL, the other stationed in front of a large flat screen for the "fun stuff," the actual football element, film study and game-planning -- on the second floor of Rams Park by working rungs, beginning way back in 1983.

      Graduate assistant at Massachusetts. Intern with the Redskins. Defensive line and special teams coach at Lafayette. Defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator at Connecticut, before the Huskie ascent to the Big East. Special teams and defensive line coach for the Barcelona Dragons. Scout for the Chargers. Defensive backs and linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at Maine. Defensive backs coach at Rutgers. Defensive backs coach at Bowling Green. Linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for the Frankfurt Galaxy. Defensive assistant for the Eagles.

      In 2001, he rose to defensive backs coach for the Eagles. Then linebackers coach in 2004. Then defensive coordinator for the Giants in 2007. Buoyed by his unit, the Giants won the Super Bowl that year. He rebuffed head-coaching offers that offseason, and stuck around one more season, out of loyalty and the handsome raise that amounted into the first real money he earned in 25 years in the business.

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    • Nick
      Cornerback, D-lineman, receiver pace Day 2 haul
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      Cornerback, D-lineman, receiver pace Day 2 haul
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      Tempted by the television coverage of the NFL draft but motivated by a
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      Still, Scott paused long enough Sunday to take a call from the Rams, informing
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      The Rams added five picks to go with Saturday's Day 1 haul: Baylor tackle Jason
      Smith in the first round and Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis in the

      Sunday's activity began with the selection of Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher
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      (No. 196), and running back Chris Ogbonnaya of Texas in the seventh (No. 211).

      "We're like 31 other teams; we're pleased with the way it went," Rams general
      manager Billy Devaney said afterward. "We were just hell-bent on bringing in as
      many good players that were going to be part of this process. It wasn't a case
      where, 'We have to have one receiver, we have to have a quarterback, we have to
      take a tackle.' It wasn't anything like that at all."

      Added first-year head coach Steve Spagnuolo: "I thought it went real smooth.
      ... Billy's (scouting) staff did a great job; they put together a wealth of
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      Fletcher, a full-time starter for the Hawkeyes for only one season, appealed
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      ask those guys to do," Spagnuolo said.

      Devaney and Spagnuolo, who have consistently emphasized the importance of
      character in their players, determined that Fletcher's guilty plea to a
      drunken-driving charge in 2007 could be absolved.

      "We did our due diligence thoroughly with this guy," Devaney assured. "I said
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      Spagnuolo explained that the Rams quizzed the Iowa coaches extensively about
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      -04-27-2009, 07:49 AM
    • Nick
      Draft intrigue forces teams to analyze reams of data
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      Draft intrigue forces teams to analyze reams of data
      By Bill Coats
      Friday, Apr. 24 2009
      For weeks, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney have
      been sifting through reams of information on prospects for this weekend's NFL
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      It's not nearly as simple as it might seem.

      "We both have close friends in the league, but at this time of year, I wouldn't
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      Information — and misinformation — run rampant in the lead-up to the draft. It
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      It's up to the talent brokers to determine which data to file away and which to
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      finesse somebody else's thinking," said Gil Brandt, the Dallas Cowboys'
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      That is attempted in several different ways. Injuries are played up or played
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      shrouded in a haze that Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage calls the
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      Dick Vermeil, former coach of the Rams, Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City
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      Far more than on-field talent has been evaluated. As character becomes an
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      "You've just got to stay in tune with all that," former Rams GM Charley Armey
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    • r8rh8rmike
      Late-Round Picks Could Find A Home With Rams
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      Late-round picks could find a home with Rams

      Monday, May 2, 2011

      At a time when only diehard Rams fans were paying close attention, the team selected nearly 40 percent of its draft class late Saturday afternoon.

      Three of the team's eight picks were chosen in the seventh round, when scouts and general managers were panning for just a sliver of gold in what was left of the 2011 talent pool.

      "You know, when we get down to this point, you're usually looking at developmental kind of guys," general manager Billy Devaney said. "You're not looking at these guys as coming in and making an immediate impact as starters.

      "So their quality better include special-teams play. That's how they're going to earn their stripes as they're developing as players. And all of these guys are viewed as major contributors on special teams."

      By the time Baylor cornerback Mikail Baker heard his named called by the Rams, 215 players had been drafted. A dozen picks later, the Rams selected linebacker Jabara Williams of Stephen F. Austin, and on the very next pick took free safety Jonathan Nelson of Oklahoma.

      None of the three players was invited to the NFL scouting combine, so they're already beating the odds simply by getting drafted.

      Devaney said the Rams really liked Baker on tape but brought him in to Rams Park a couple of weeks ago for a physical to check out a serious knee injury that cost him most of the 2009 season.

      "McMahon loves him," Devaney said, referring to special teams coach Tom McMahon. "So we put him in the mix and see what we have."

      Baker left Baylor as the school's career record-holder for kickoff returns (83) and kickoff return yards (1,963). He had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Iowa State in 2008, and his career return average was 23.7 yards.

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    • MauiRam
      Hopes are high at minicamp ..
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      Sunday, May 13, 2012

      Leaving the practice field Saturday, Mike Campbell had a final opportunity to make an impression on Rams coach Jeff Fisher.

      But after two days of catching passes and executing drills at the team's rookie minicamp, their encounter was more about expressing gratitude than fishing for a compliment.

      Campbell was one of four players invited to the minicamp for a tryout. They had two days to make an impression even if the main reason for their presence was the need for extra bodies to practice.

      "I didn't pack enough things to stay, so either way I'm going home," said Campbell, who was a receiver at Temple. "I told him I appreciate the opportunity, and I'm going to take what I learned and use it to advance my career. Hopefully, I'll be seeing him again."

      Campbell was joined at Rams Park by receivers Tony Logan (Maryland) and T.J. Simpson (Arizona State) and quarterback Barrett Trotter (Auburn) as players without a guarantee of moving forward with the team.

      They had their expenses covered, making the experience a no-lose proposition. They went through every aspect of the minicamp as the Rams' draft picks and free agents.

      But when practice ended at noon Saturday, they were headed back to uncertainty.

      "I'm not signed, so just to get a chance to come to minicamp and show what I can do is better than just having one day where they say 'Come up here and throw for us a little,'" Trotter said. "It allows coaches to see what I can do and how I mesh with the team."

      Trotter started the first seven games for Auburn in 2011 before losing the job. He announced in January that he would not return for his final year of eligibility. His presence gave the Rams two quarterbacks at the minicamp.

      The three receivers joined second-round pick Brian Quick, fourth-rounder Chris Givens and Nick Johnson, who signed a free-agent contract after going undrafted, to provide enough players to run offense.

      "They wanted an opportunity and we needed numbers to practice, so we created the opportunity for them," Fisher said. "It's no different than the guys we've had try out over the last six weeks. The only difference is they got a more extensive look, which is good for them."

      The four players arrived with the hope of looking good enough to earn a free-agent contract. That's what Dominique Curry did in 2010, when he participated in minicamp as a tryout player and parlayed that into two seasons with the Rams.

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