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  • Inside Slant

    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 6-4, 300-pound Ben Noll, who started three seasons for the Quakers, and is an undrafted free agent.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "With those Rams' teams, sure we had great players. But those great players never had the 'look at me, this is about me' attitudes. That was what was so unique and special about that point in time. The focus always was on the team, and that's what I think made us a great team." - Former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner on what the team was able to achieve in a five-year period before his departure.

    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 Nijrell Eason; DT Bernard Holsey; S Justin Lucas; DE Sean Moran.

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

    DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED: S Jason Shivers; C/G Larry Turner.

    MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamWraith
    Inside Slant
    by RamWraith
    Inside Slant
    —As the dust cleared from the Rams' rookie minicamp the weekend of April 29-May 1, coach Mike Martz was pleased with what he saw, especially from the team's 10 draft picks in attendance.
    The only player absent was third-round choice Richie Incognito, who underwent knee surgery April 28.

    "I think this is probably as fine a crew as we've had in," Martz said. "It's really exciting to see these guys. In shorts, everything out here looks good. Who knows? We'll see if they can play under the pressure and deal with everything that happens in the NFL. But it's a good start. I'm really pleased with them.

    "The neatest thing is that these guys come into the league to learn. They are completely open. You have an opportunity to bring these guys in what you think is the right way. You give them a great opportunity for success. We have a different approach than some people with rookies. We try to create the best environment for these guys as we possibly can. There is a lot of stress involved for a young player in this league with all the media attention, which is different from 15 years ago. You try to do as much for them as you can."

    Seventh-round pick Ryan Fitzpatrick was pleased with the attention he received, considering he was the only quarterback at the camp. He also had a lot of individual attention, from Martz to offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild to quarterbacks coach John Ramsdell.

    "There was a lot thrown at us at once," Fitzpatrick said. "It was good to get in here and learn from the quarterback coach. I can sit down and learn it at a slow pace. When the veterans come in, they teach the smartest guy. They teach the guy that knows the most so there's not going to be a lot of individual, slow type stuff."

    The rookies will join the veterans starting May 17 for on-field work (OTAs, which are organized team activities) as part of the offseason program, followed by the June 3-5 full-squad minicamp. The veterans won't have had any on-field work until then.

    "The OTAs that we do before minicamp are kind of a watered-down version of what we do after minicamp," Martz said. "So, it's really kind of a ground-gaining or just kind of a gradual process to get these guys re-involved. We really felt like not doing any field work until May was beneficial to get these guys some rest, to get them away from the football aspect. Let them lift and run and get physically back."

    Two rookies, Fitzpatrick and third-round safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, won't be able to attend until later because of their semester schedules in college. Fitzpatrick will report at the end of May after his finals. Atogwe won't be available until around June 8.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —When the Rams selected guard Richie Incognito in the third round of the draft, coach Mike Martz...
    -05-08-2005, 04:23 PM
  • RamWraith
    Rams Inside Slant
    by RamWraith
    The first move that will hopefully upgrade the Rams defense for 2005 came with the decision to move linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa to strong safety, a switch that will also result in strong safety Adam Archuleta being the free safety.
    In explaining the move, coach Mike Martz said, "Pisa's got such terrific range. He reminds me of Carnell Lake and Darren Woodson, some of those people. He's got the stature to be very effective there."

    During their careers, those players were listed at around 215-220 pounds, while the Rams' roster lists Tinoisamoa at 235. However, Martz revealed Tinoisamoa actually is closer to 220 and added, "Size has nothing to do with it. If he was 280 pounds and could run like he does, who cares?"

    As an outside linebacker, Tinoisamoa often had to fight off top blockers, and he ended up dislocating his shoulder eight times during the season, according to Martz, and underwent surgery after the season.

    The major questions surrounding the move revolve around Archuleta and the state of the linebackers. Archuleta played all season with a back injury, and he has two degenerative disks in his back. Additionally, his pass coverage skills have been questioned.

    But Martz believes that won't be a problem and said he believes this move will result in more big plays by the defense.

    "There's no question he (Archuleta) can cover the ground," Martz said. "Adam and Pisa are playmakers, and this will put them in position to make even more plays."

    At linebacker, the Rams have work to do. Tommy Polley is an unrestricted free agent and Robert Thomas has been a disappointment at middle linebacker. Brandon Chillar started five games in 2004 as a rookie.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —Rams director of player personnel Lawrence McCutcheon was inducted recently into the Panhandle (Tex.) Sports Hall of Fame.

    From Plainview, Tex., McCutcheon said what he learned as a young boy stayed with him throughout his career. He rushed for 8,377 yards, playing for the Rams, Denver, Seattle and Buffalo.

    "It seems like only a few years ago that I was ripping and running through the plains of Plainview, Texas, in pastures, fields, playing sandlot ball," McCutcheon said. "Wherever we could find a place to play football, that's where we would go. During those years, I was fortunate enough to play with and against a bunch of great athletes who were helpful in my life and what direction I wanted to take in my life."

    "He's really progressed," coach Mike Martz said.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Marshall was probably ready to do that during the season. He's so excited for Steven, he really is. He wants to be there for Steven and help him and still have his role." - Coach Mike Martz on Steven Jackson being named the starting running back ahead of Marshall...
    -02-21-2005, 04:09 PM
  • RamDez
    Rams Inside Slant
    by RamDez
    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...
    -06-07-2004, 01:58 PM
  • RamWraith
    Players glad firing was quick
    by RamWraith
    By Kathleen Nelson
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    01/02/2006

    Players arrived at Rams Park on Monday without receiving official word that coach Mike Martz had been fired. Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, for example, came to the practice facility shortly after waking and hadn't turned on radio or TV.

    "Is he gone?" he asked. When informed that it was so, he continued, "Great man. I'm at a loss for words on how I feel about him. He brought a great group of guys in. He and his coaching staff are great people. They gave me a chance, so I'm kind of torn right now."

    Most of the players, though, received the news by listening to the radio or watching TV.

    "I saw it scrolling on the bottom of ESPN," linebacker Trev Faulk said. "There's been so much speculation going on around here the entire season that you had an idea that something was going to happen. You didn't know exactly what."

    Others, such as quarterback Marc Bulger, said that the suspense of Martz's future was over awhile ago and that the quick announcement was good for everyone - sort of like ripping off a bandage real fast.

    "It was pretty apparent the last month or two that this day was going to come," Bulger said. "I think it's better for Coach Martz and for the organization that it happened quicker, for him to find another job and for the team to find a replacement."

    Martz served as head coach for six seasons, promoted from offensive coordinator after the Super Bowl season. Players who spent their entire careers with the Rams seemed grateful to Martz for his role as architect of the glory days of the Greatest Show on Turf, from 1999 to 2001.

    "I know he used the term 'fast and furious' a lot, but that's really the way we approached the game on offense," said tackle Orlando Pace, who was named to the Pro Bowl in each of Martz's seven seasons with the Rams in St. Louis. "He wanted to take advantage of every defense, and the style of offense we played was great."

    Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was part of Martz's second draft class in 2001.

    "I've been playing all my years with Coach Martz, and you hate to see it end like that, but at least it's closure," Pickett said. "Coach Joe Vitt did a great job, but Martz was our leader and our head man."

    Considered an offensive guru, Martz took a particular interest in young quarterbacks.

    "He was real meticulous in everything he did with the offense," said Bulger, whom the Rams signed as a free agent in 2001. "He wanted it done his way. It's a credit to him, those years they had here setting all the NFL records."

    Martz was famous - some would say notorious - for making projects out of quarterbacks. Kurt Warner was undrafted. Bulger and Jeff Smoker...
    -01-03-2006, 05:04 AM
  • 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, 06:46 AM
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