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  • Rams Inside Slant

    Tight end Cam Cleeland will be back in training camp with the Rams after agreeing to a one-year contract last week. But it will be a player with a different perspective after Cleeland tried valiantly to save the life of a 22-year-old man May 23. Cleeland was driving in Mount Vernon, Wash., about 70 miles north of Seattle, when he came upon a burning car that had struck a tree. Inside was Timothy Roth. Cleeland attempted to put out the blaze with an extinguisher and also removed the air bag from Roth's face. In the process, Cleeland suffered burns on his hands.

    Roth died the next day, and Cleeland has not wanted to talk publicly about his attempted heroics.

    Rams media assistant Artis Twyman said Cleeland did not want to be interviewed.

    "Cam was really shaken up about it when I talked to him," Twyman said. "I tried to talk to him but I could tell he didn't want to talk about it too much or go in depth, out of respect for the family.

    "He said it's something you really don't want to experience in life. It must have been really bad; I could hear him getting choked up."

    Cleeland joined the Rams last season and caught 10 passes for 145 yards with no touchdowns. The Rams had been offering him a one-year contract throughout the offseason, but Cleeland wanted to see what other teams might be interested.

    The Rams hope he can contribute more after spending one season becoming comfortable with the team's offense.

    NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

    —The Larry Marmie Arizona connection is resulting in some new players that will compete for roster spots in training camp.

    Marmie, the Rams' new defensive coordinator, had been with the Cardinals since 1996 before being fired with the entire staff following the 2003 season.

    After the Rams cleared about $4.5 million in salary-cap space with the release of quarterback Kurt Warner, they signed safety Justin Lucas and made a waiver claim on defensive tackle Marcus Bell. Both were released by the Cardinals on June 1. Lucas could be signed quickly because as a vested veteran, his contract was immediately terminated. Players with Bell's status, who have fewer than four accrued seasons, must go through waivers for 10 days.

    The Rams' starting safeties are Aeneas Williams (free) and Adam Archuleta (strong), but Williams usually moves into the slot in the nickel defense. Those competing for backup safety jobs are Rich Coady, Shane Walton, rookie Jason Shivers and Lucas.

    At defensive tackle, the Rams also need depth behind Damione Lewis, Ryan Pickett and Jimmy Kennedy. Undrafted free agent Brian Howard will also challenge for a backup job.

    —The Rams essentially traded scouts with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Marmie (along with coach Mike Martz) had a hand in that, too. Shortly after the draft, college scout Ryan Grigson left for a job that had more responsibility with the Eagles.

    Replacing Grigson will be Dave Boller, who had been a scout with the Eagles for the last six years. The 42-year-old Boller was at Arizona State from 1985-95, where he was heavily involved in recruiting. Marmie was the head coach at Arizona State from 1988-91, when Martz was the offensive coordinator. Martz was also the offensive coordinator at ASU in 1984 and was a position coach there in 1983 and 1986-87.

    Prior to 1985, Boller was a student at Arizona State and was the football team manager.

    —The expected became reality June 2 when the Rams released quarterback Kurt Warner, officially ending a magic ride that began in 1999 when Warner emerged from obscurity to lead the Rams to a Super Bowl victory over the Tennessee Titans.

    For three seasons, there was no better quarterback than Warner, who had 98 touchdown passes in that time frame. But the magic ended as quickly as it began.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I like our football team, I really do. Not having room in the cap and having holes to fill is a difficult situation. Fortunately, we've got good people here. So, we'll just see where it goes." - Coach Mike Martz, on the limited options the team has even after the release of QB Kurt Warner.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    FRANCHISE PLAYER: OT Orlando Pace (tendered at $7.021M).

    UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): QB Scott Covington; S Jason Sehorn; CB Fred Weary.

    RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

    EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

    PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: QB Marc Bulger; CB Jerametrius Butler; TE Cam Cleeland; S Rich Coady; C Andy Eby; DE Bryce Fisher; P Sean Landeta; WR Dane Looker; LB Jeremy Loyd; TE Brandon Manumaleuna; OG Adam Timmerman.

    PLAYERS ACQUIRED: QB Chris Chandler; S Justin Lucas; DE Sean Moran.

    PLAYERS LOST: LB Jamie Duncan; S Kim Herring; OG David Loverne; OL John St. Clair; QB Kurt Warner; DE Grant Wistrom; DT Brian Young.

    MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamWraith
    Inside Slant
    by RamWraith
    From USA Today

    Tight end Cam Cleeland will be back in training camp with the Rams after agreeing to a one-year contract last week. But it will be a player with a different perspective after Cleeland tried valiantly to save the life of a 22-year-old man May 23.

    Cleeland was driving in Mount Vernon, Wash., about 70 miles north of Seattle, when he came upon a burning car that had struck a tree. Inside was Timothy Roth. Cleeland attempted to put out the blaze with an extinguisher and also removed the air bag from Roth's face. In the process, Cleeland suffered burns on his hands.

    Roth died the next day, and Cleeland has not wanted to talk publicly about his attempted heroics.

    Rams media assistant Artis Twyman said Cleeland did not want to be interviewed.

    "Cam was really shaken up about it when I talked to him," Twyman said. "I tried to talk to him but I could tell he didn't want to talk about it too much or go in depth, out of respect for the family.

    "He said it's something you really don't want to experience in life. It must have been really bad; I could hear him getting choked up."

    Cleeland joined the Rams last season and caught 10 passes for 145 yards with no touchdowns. The Rams had been offering him a one-year contract throughout the offseason, but Cleeland wanted to see what other teams might be interested.

    The Rams hope he can contribute more after spending one season becoming comfortable with the team's offense.

    NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

    —The Larry Marmie Arizona connection is resulting in some new players that will compete for roster spots in training camp.

    Marmie, the Rams' new defensive coordinator, had been with the Cardinals since 1996 before being fired with the entire staff following the 2003 season.

    After the Rams cleared about $4.5 million in salary-cap space with the release of quarterback Kurt Warner, they signed safety Justin Lucas and made a waiver claim on defensive tackle. Both were released by the Cardinals on June 1. Lucas could be signed quickly because as a vested veteran, his contract was immediately terminated. Players with Bell's status, who have fewer than four accrued seasons, must go through waivers for 10 days.

    The Rams' starting safeties are Aeneas Williams (free) and Adam Archuleta (strong), but Williams usually moves into the slot in the nickel defense. Those competing for backup safety jobs are Rich Coady, Shane Walton, rookie Jason Shivers and Lucas.

    At defensive tackle, the Rams also need depth behind Damione Lewis, Ryan Pickett and Jimmy Kennedy. Undrafted free agent Brian Howard will also challenge for a backup job.

    —The Rams essentially traded scouts with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Marmie (along with coach Mike Martz) had a hand in that, too. Shortly after the draft,...
    -06-07-2004, 07:46 AM
  • RamDez
    Rams Inside Slant
    by RamDez
    Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the Rams' offseason came when the team matched an offer made by the Carolina Panthers to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna.

    A restricted free agent, Manumaleuna signed an offer sheet worth $8.3 million over five years that included a $2 million signing bonus. After much deliberation and some disagreement from within the Rams' front office, the offer was matched.

    Manumaleuna started for the first time last season following the departure of Ernie Conwell, but didn't play only tight end. He moved around consistently, often playing fullback or H-back. That led to inconsistency and mistakes.

    "When you're jumping here and there, here and there, sometimes it makes it hard," tight ends coach Frank Falks said. "As a human being and a football player, you don't like to say it, but it does."

    Falks knew Manumaleuna was struggling last season and at times confused. He said, "When you're around someone, you know their moods. And I always talk to him, so I could tell something was bothering him."

    The fact the Panthers made the offer they did showed that Manumaleuna has value.

    "They didn't offer him that because his name's Brandon," Falks said. "They did it because he fit what they needed."

    Now, the Rams hope Manumaleuna will fit what they need: solid blocking at the position. Any contributions in the passing offense is gravy.

    Said Manumaleuna, "I'm just trying to get better."

    NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

    —The Rams are continuing to tweak their roster in preparation for the start of training camp on July 27. The latest additions are tackle Jeff Hatch, safety Nijrell Eason and wide receiver Brian Sump.

    Hatch was released by the Giants on March 22 after being drafted on the third round (78th overall) in 2002. He missed his entire rookie season because of a back injury, and then started four games last season. Those four games, the final ones of the season, were the only ones in which he played.

    The Rams need depth at tackle in training camp because of the expected absence of Orlando Pace and Kyle Turley's return from offseason back surgery. Grant Williams is the most experienced backup, and coaches want Andy King to work mostly at guard.

    Eason was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Cardinals in 2001. He was released on Aug. 28 and went to camp the following year with the Steelers. Released by Pittsburgh on Sept. 2, he was added to the Cardinals' roster for the final game of the '02 season and played in that game. Eason injured his shoulder last summer, and spent the entire year on injured reserve. At the start of free agency in March, the Cardinals elected not to tender him as an exclusive rights free agent.

    Sump joined the Chargers...
    -06-14-2004, 10:34 AM
  • RamDez
    Inside Slant
    by RamDez
    Rams coach Mike Martz loves offense and all the tinkering that goes with it.
    The game-planning and preparation for an opponent. Calling the plays during a game. Martz gets so engrossed in the offense, there are those who wonder about his game-day decisions from an overall coaching perspective.

    Still, Martz is grooming his successor from the offensive side, even if it takes several years for there to be drastic changes.

    Martz said earlier in the offseason that offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild could very well call the plays in the preseason.

    Asked about Fairchild's role as the team concluded its offseason workout program, Martz said, "Steve is capable of doing it all. Steve can call all the plays, he can do all the game-planning, he can run this offense completely. At this point, he's more than capable of doing that and doing it a very high level."

    But how much will he do?

    "There's some parts of this I'm just not ready to give up on," Martz admitted. "It's really fun for me, I still love being involved in the game-planning, calling plays. By the same token, he's got an awful lot to offer in those areas, too. He'll have input during the games in terms of play selection. He may call several if not all of our preseason games, I don't know yet."

    Whatever happens on that level, Martz made it clear how much Fairchild currently does.

    Said Martz, "There's a lot that he does that people don't know about. Just the organization of putting game plans together during the week, getting the staff together, ideas and putting them in. I can't always be in there. And he's taking on more and more of that role. He's taken on more of a role in leadership with the players on offense, running practice. I don't feel like I've got to be involved in a lot of the drills, so I can take more of a head coach's role in practice. He's been very effective; he's really what I was looking for."

    NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

    —Linebackers coach Joe Vitt is pleased with the development of second-year linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa.

    Said Vitt, "Pisa has picked up the system, he communicates well in it. Pisa's the kind of kid, you want to introduce something new, there's a lot of players in this league where panic sets in. They know what they know and they don't want to learn anything new. Pisa really embraces new things, and things that can make him better. That's going to make him a better player."

    —The Rams were stymied in signing one University of Pennsylvania tackle, so they opted for another.

    After reaching agreement with Jeff Hatch recently, the contract was contingent on Hatch passing his physical. He had missed the 2002 season because of back surgery. After the physical, the Rams deemed it too much of a risk to sign Hatch.

    They then signed...
    -06-28-2004, 12:55 AM
  • RamDez
    Rams Make Roster Moves
    by RamDez
    By ClanRam staff

    TE Joel Jacobs, S Justin Lucas, and QB Russ Michna have signed with the St. Louis Rams. In another roster move, the Rams released TEs Spencer Nead and John Frieser.

    Jacobs, 6-3, 250, is a rookie from Nebraska-Kearney. He is one of only three players in school history to earn first-team all-conference honors three times, as he caught 66 passes for 623 yards and six touchdowns in his career. The Mullen, NE native made 27 receptions for 228 yards as a senior.

    Lucas, 5-10, 211, will enter his sixth NFL season in 2004 after playing his first five professional seasons for the Arizona Cardinals. The Abilene Christian product has played in 58 games, with eight starts in his NFL career, and has tallied 141 tackles (81 solo) with two interceptions. Last season, Lucas played in 11 games, notching 23 tackles (17 solo), adding four special teams tackles.

    Michna, 6-1, 224, is a rookie from Western Illinois. The former Leatherneck earned Gateway Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors as a junior and senior, leading WIU to a 20-6 record and two trips to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs. As a senior, he threw for a school-record 3,160 yards and 21 touchdowns on 211 of 371 passing, adding 167 yards on 70 rushing attempts and four touchdowns.

    Nead, 6-4, 259, played in 10 games with two starts as a rookie in 2003 at fullback and tight end, catching one pass for six yards. The product of BYU ended the season on the practice squad.

    Frieser, 6-4, 260, was a rookie from Colgate....
    -06-04-2004, 03:19 PM
  • RamDez
    Rams are getting set to gear up again
    by RamDez
    By Bill Coats

    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Late afternoon had crept into early evening Jan. 10 when lightning struck the Edward Jones Dome. The bolt was a 69-yard pass play deftly executed by Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme and wide receiver Steve Smith that brought the Rams' season to an abrupt and crushing conclusion.

    It was 23-23 when the Panthers faced third down and 14 on the first play of the second overtime. Inexplicably, Smith split the Rams' deep defense and Delhomme found him in full stride in the middle of the field, streaking toward the end zone. The capacity crowd was yanked into an eerie silence as the NFC West champions, 12-4 in the regular season, suffered sudden death in the opening round of the playoffs.

    "I just went, 'Arrrrrrggggh,'" Rams wide receiver Torry Holt said. "Your heart just drops all the way down to your toes. That's the kind of hurt you feel."

    Now the team is gearing up for training camp and a new season. The players are to report to Western Illinois University in Macomb by 5 p.m. July 27, with the first two workouts scheduled for the following day. Camp will continue through Aug. 20.

    During the six months since the 29-23 loss to Carolina, some significant shifts have taken place in the team's landscape. Here's a review of the most noteworthy happenings during the offseason:


    Two defensive linemen sign with other teams

    Two starters on the defensive line, right end Grant Wistrom and tackle Brian Young, accepted free-agent offers from other teams. Wistrom signed a six-year, $33 million deal with Seattle, and Young went to New Orleans.

    Damione Lewis heads to Macomb as the heir apparent to Young's spot. Should Lewis falter, Bernard Holsey, a free-agent pickup who started all 16 games last season for Washington, could move into the lineup.

    Replacing Wistrom, whose 60 tackles last season included seven sacks, could be more problematic. For now, Sean Moran - a former Ram who returned as a free agent - is No. 1 on the depth chart, with Bryce Fisher and Erik Flowers listed as backups. Tyoka Jackson also could figure into the mix.


    Defense is going from Lovie to Larry

    Defensive coordinator Lovie Smith was hired as Chicago's head coach on Jan. 14. Five days later, Rams coach Mike Martz named Larry Marmie as Smith's successor.

    Smith had turned an unsteady defense into one of the NFL's best units. Marmie, who spent the previous eight years with the Arizona Cardinals, the final 3 1/2 as defensive coordinator, said that like Smith, "I like speed. . . . We want to continue to play in the same way, with the same style."


    At quarterback, a Kurt dismissal

    Marc Bulger, who started 16 games last season at quarterback and was the most valuable player in the...
    -07-18-2004, 02:27 AM
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