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Bulkier Harris hopes to climb charts

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  • Bulkier Harris hopes to climb charts

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    MACOMB, Ill. - Rams running back Arlen Harris knows that barring catastrophe, he'll be on the 53-man roster when the season opens Sept. 12. But that doesn't mean he's on cruise control at training camp.

    "You're trying to climb up the charts," he said. "You definitely can't relax."

    A year ago, Harris came to Western Illinois University as an undrafted rookie, signed as a free agent after an impressive showing at the Paradise Bowl in Las Vegas, an "all-star" game in which NFL scouts evaluate college seniors. A consensus All-American as a high school senior in Garfield Heights, Ohio, Harris endured three injury-plagued three seasons at Virginia, then transferred to Hofstra for his senior year.

    An eligibility issue kept him off the field that year, and he fell off the NFL radar. But when given a chance by the Rams, he responded: Other than starting linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, no rookie had a greater impact on the team last season than Harris. He played in all 16 games, with two starts, rushing for 255 yards and four touchdowns, catching 15 passes for 102 yards, and averaging 23 yards on 51 kickoff returns.

    "I knew my abilities," Harris said. "It was just a matter of going out there and making some plays. This year, I'm just going to try to build on it."

    He started by building his body. Harris, who played at about 212 pounds last season, has bulked up to about 225. Coach Mike Martz ordered the extra weight so that Harris, No. 3 on the depth chart at tailback, can fill in at fullback and pair up with Marshall Faulk in the backfield in certain situations. "They're trying to use me in a lot of different ways in the offense," Harris said.

    Martz said, "He went to work in the offseason, and with that added girth and weight, he also increased his speed. When that happened, he really got our attention, because he's got some real live ability in terms of reading and cutting and breaking tackles and all those things. He's way ahead of where he was a year ago physically, and I think that's terrific."

    Harris' solid rookie season not only solidified his spot on team, it gave his psyche a lift, too.

    "I just feel so much more confident and have such a better understanding of the offense," he said. "I feel like I can be more effective."

    Rams take
    slow approach

    The Rams were scheduled to work out in full pads Sunday morning, but because the injury list continues to mount, Martz decided to keep them in shells for both practices.

    "We did a study on this, and usually in Day 5, 6 and 7, that's when you really sustain a lot of your injuries in camp," he explained. "That is the red-hot time. You just kind of have to be careful."

    Virtually all the injuries suffered since camp started Wednesday are minor. "Those are nicks," Martz said. "You can get (the players) back in short order."

    Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (back) and linebacker Tommy Polley (toe) returned to pratice Sunday. But safety Rich Coady remained on the sideline; he has missed two days with back spasms. Coady sheepishly acknowledged that he suffered the injury while tying a shoe.

    Rookie kicker cut

    After announcing the signing of tackle Greg Randall to a one-year contract this morning, the Rams cut place-kicker Dillon Pieffer.

    Pieffer was a rookie from UNLV who signed with the club in late July.

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Harris leads Cason in fight for third spot
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Aug. 28 2005

    Will it be Arlen Harris and Aveion Cason when the Rams trim their
    roster to the final 53?

    Or is it an either-or proposition for the two running backs behind Steven
    Jackson and Marshall Faulk on the Rams' depth chart?

    Early in training camp, coach Mike Martz set out the parameters for Harris and

    "One's not going to eliminate the other if they're both playing good," Martz
    said at the time. "Now, if one's playing really good and the other one's not,
    yeah, you eliminate the other guy. But if they're (both) playing good, we're
    going to keep them somehow, some way."

    A decision may not be rendered until the final roster cuts on Sept. 4. But at
    the moment, Harris is the clear-cut leader for the No. 3 running back spot
    ahead of Cason.

    "It's time for Aveion to relax and be himself," running backs coach Wilbert
    Montgomery said. "Every day that goes by and every practice that goes by, the
    window keeps shrinking. You're in a competitive situation. You're trying to
    fight for a spot on the team. At some point, the light's got to go on in the
    room so you can see everything, and you've got to come out of the dark."

    Cason realizes he has to make something happen in the Rams' final two
    exhibition games, beginning tonight in Detroit.

    "I feel like I do," he said. "I feel like I have to go out and make some plays,
    either if it's on special teams or on offense."

    Cason, 26, carried six times for only 7 yards in the exhibition opener against
    Chicago. He did not carry from scrimmage last week in San Diego.

    In two exhibition games, Harris, 25, has gained 67 yards on 19 carries,
    including a 10-for-40 effort against the Chargers that included an impressive
    33-yard run.

    Cason also has been outperformed on kickoff returns so far. He has a 19.3-yard
    average on four returns, while cornerback Terry Fair has averaged 22.8 yards on
    six returns.

    Harris, who was the Rams' primary kickoff return man until giving way to Cason
    late last season, hasn't returned a kickoff this preseason. But that could
    change tonight in Detroit, and Harris is eager for any return duty.

    "That's something that I like to do," Harris said. "I feel I'm at a great
    playing weight for it."

    Harris bulked up to nearly 230 pounds last year because the Rams planned to try
    him at fullback. "It was just too much weight," Harris said. "I had a lot of
    different injuries and pulls."

    Those fullback plans never really materialized,...
    -08-29-2005, 05:50 AM
  • RamWraith
    Cason, Harris Competing for Job
    by RamWraith
    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    If only the best of Arlen Harris and the best of Aveion Cason could be combined into one player, you might be left with the best third running back in the NFL.

    Take, for example, Harris’ hard-nosed running style and combine it with Cason’s breakneck speed and the potential for the perfect backup/kick returner would certainly exist.

    But, since Dr. Frankenstein isn’t available, the Rams could be forced to choose between Harris and Cason for the third running back spot behind starter Steven Jackson and future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.

    And that’s one choice that could prove quite difficult when cuts begin next week. Although Harris and Cason remain good friends, both understand the sense of urgency needed to claim what could come down to an either/or situation as opposed to keeping both as St. Louis did last year.

    “They (the coaches) might expect something, but we won’t know until that last cut day or that last day so you have got to practice and play every day like you aren’t going to be here,” Harris said. “I try to stay away from rumors and just worry about myself.”

    Cason is taking that exact approach.

    “I am going to have to go out and compete every day in practice and every day in the games,” Cason said. “I know how it is and I know how tough it is going to be so I have to go out and take advantage of each and every opportunity that I have. All I can do is go out and do my job and do my part.”

    With guys like Faulk and Jackson ahead of them, it has been difficult for Harris and Cason to get too many opportunities, but there have been flashes from both players.

    It isn’t like either player is a newcomer to the game either. Harris is entering his third season with the Rams after making it as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2003.

    At the time, Harris’ making the team came as a surprise and some thought it might not last too long, but Harris has continually proved his doubters wrong.

    “I’m in my third year so I kind of know what to expect and kind of understand my role on this team,” Harris said. “I definitely feel comfortable in my status. This year I am definitely more comfortable in my abilities. I know the offense. You have got to have that feeling though because nobody is above the league. You could be traded, you could be cut, you just never know so you can never relax at this level.”

    Harris had done everything asked of him since arriving in St. Louis making him a favorite of the coaching staff. From his spot start as a rookie against Pittsburgh in 2003 when he scored three touchdowns to his willingness to add about 20 pounds to his smallish frame and move to fullback, Harris has earned his hard-working reputation on the team.

    In fact, the additional weight and move...
    -08-26-2005, 05:10 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams will start Harris at running back
    by RamWraith
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Dec. 10 2004

    Arlen Harris is rested, ready and rarin' to go. "They call me 'fresh legs,'"
    Harris said, laughing. "I'll be able to go out there and take some punishment."

    Rookie Steven Jackson and veteran Marshall Faulk are nursing bruised knees and
    will be unable to carry a full load Sunday. So coach Mike Martz said Friday
    that Harris will be in the lineup at running back when the Rams (6-6) meet the
    Carolina Panthers (5-7) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte in a contest
    with heavy playoff implications in the NFC.

    "Arlen will start, and Marshall's ready to go, I think," Martz said. "And
    we'll just see where Steven is on Sunday."

    Jackson, the team's first-round draft pick, started for a gimpy Faulk last
    Sunday and ran for 119 yards on 26 carries in a 16-6 victory over San
    Francisco. Jackson was hurt on his last series, and the knee swelled
    considerably and needed to be drained. Jackson didn't practice all week.

    "We're going to get him back in short order," Martz assured. "If he misses
    this one, I'm sure he'll be back the following week. But I don't know that he
    misses this one. We just have been very, very cautious with him."

    Harris, a second-year pro, has just one carry this year -- a 2-yard jaunt
    against the *****. Still, that brief appearance was helpful, he said. "Just
    being able to touch the ball last week gave me confidence," Harris said. "This
    week, I'll be more comfortable."

    The 5-10, 212-pound Harris made the team last year as an undrafted rookie who
    hadn't played as a college senior because of an eligibility glitch. He was
    productive in two starts, rushing for 85 yards against Green Bay and 81 against
    Pittsburgh in relief of the injured Faulk and Lamar Gordon, who earlier this
    season was traded to Miami.

    "They told me to go about this week like I'm starting, and now that I know I'm
    definitely starting, it's not a problem," said Harris, 24. "I'm definitely
    excited to get an opportunity to run the ball. Being a rookie last year, I was
    a little bit nervous. But now I have a year under my belt, and I feel
    comfortable with the offense. . . .

    "It's a great opportunity. I'll just go out there and do my best, and
    hopefully we don't skip a beat."

    Martz expects that to be the case. "I'm not worried about Arlen at all," he
    said. "He's a terrific runner. He's hard to knock off his feet. He's real
    patient. His run reads are really outstanding. He's a much better player than
    he was a year ago, and he played well...
    -12-11-2004, 08:10 AM
  • MauiRam
    Player Profile: Moses Harris ..
    by MauiRam
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    At 22 years old, the thought of sitting in an office and wearing a tie to work every day was just not what Moses Harris wanted.

    Sure, Harris has the tools and education to step into the business world right now and be a serious success. But the safe choice isn’t always the right choice.

    That’s why Harris spent the spring and hopes to spend this summer pursuing his dream of being a professional football player for the Rams.

    “I just got done with my last year,” Harris said. “I can play. I am in good shape, I haven’t been injured. Why sit behind a desk right now? I figure I can chase the dream for a little bit. I have 50 years to work. You never know what could happen.”

    One thing that is certain is that Harris has set himself up to be successful in whatever he chooses to pursue. For even if the undrafted rookie safety out of Fresno State doesn’t ultimately land on a NFL roster, he has taken all of the necessary steps in his academic career to have an excellent fallback option.

    Harris signed with the Rams on May 3 after a whirlwind trip that brought him to St. Louis on a tryout basis for the team’s rookie minicamp in April. Harris was at a wedding when he got the call from Rams safeties coach Andre Curtis only days before he was to interview for a job at Wells-Fargo.

    The Rams invited Harris to the rookie camp with no guarantees of anything beyond that weekend’s five practices. Harris had received no calls from any other teams but figured he had nothing to lose in coming to St. Louis.

    “I figured I would come and just run and hustle,” Harris said. “Sometimes you don’t get a lot of plays but you can always be effective by hustle. So tipped balls or just being around the ball. I think that’s the best way to get noticed. I just tried to do it. On film, they don’t hear the whistle. All they see is just OK, some guys are dogging it but there’s no loafs out of Moses. And like I said, tomorrow is not guaranteed.”

    It’s that philosophy that Harris has applied beyond just his approach to the football field. At Fresno State, Harris earned a degree in finance in just three and a half years but he traveled almost literally to the end of the Earth to make that happen.

    Entering the summer of his junior year, Harris had just a few management classes to take to wrap up his degree so he could begin pursuing his MBA as a senior. Unfortunately, the classes he needed weren’t offered over the summer at Fresno State so he began exploring other options.

    In the end, he found a place that offered just the courses he needed: in Hong Kong. Harris hatched a plan to study abroad and finish the classes overseas and presented the idea to Bulldogs coach Pat Hill.

    With Hill’s blessing, Harris departed for what would turn out to be an education beyond anything that can be taught...
    -07-09-2010, 12:59 AM
  • RamWraith
    Harris steps up and delivers
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Dec. 12 2004

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Marshall Faulk was dressed but reserved for emergency duty.
    Steven Jackson was in sweats, not even on the 45-man active roster.

    With the Rams' top two backs nursing bruised knees, the running game rested
    solely in the hands of Arlen Harris, a second-year pro who had just one carry
    this year - a 2-yarder last week against San Francisco - before Sunday's game
    at Carolina.

    The offense had all sorts of problems in a 20-7 loss to the Panthers, most
    notably the six interceptions thrown by quarterback Chris Chandler. But don't
    count Harris among the culprits on a day when the Rams were held under 10
    points for the first time in more than two years.

    "He played his heart out," coach Mike Martz said. "I thought he did a terrific
    job running the ball."

    Harris, 5 feet 10 and 212 pounds, turned in a workmanlike performance, rushing
    19 times for 62 yards and catching four passes for 41 yards. His production
    represented 102 of the Rams' 289 total yards.

    "It felt good to get back in the swing of things," Harris said. "In the second
    half, we ran the ball a lot better. But playing from behind, it's a lot

    Harris started twice last season because of injuries to other backs,
    contributing 85 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay, then adding 81 yards
    and three TDs vs. Pittsburgh. The Rams won both those games.

    "He's going to give his maximum effort, and he did that again," said tackle
    Orlando Pace. "It makes us want to do our job that much more." Added guard Adam
    Timmerman: "He ran hard. Offensive line-wise, I wish we could've got more for
    him and got the run game going earlier."

    The Panthers (6-7) bolted to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and were up 20-7
    at the half. At that point, Harris had run for only 18 yards. "They have two
    big guys in the middle (tackles Brentson Buckner and Kindal Moorehead) that
    clog the holes up pretty well," he said, "and with (defensive ends Julius)
    Peppers and (Mike) Rucker on the outside, they were getting upfield pretty

    Harris piled up 43 yards in the second half, 40 on one possession in which he
    carried nine times in a row. But that drive ended when the Rams (6-7) failed to
    convert on fourth and 2 at the Carolina 28-yard line. "I think we were wearing
    them down," Harris said. "We just couldn't get the ball in the end zone."

    That was largely because the interceptions - three in each half - continually
    scuttled their advances. The Rams totaled...
    -12-13-2004, 06:38 AM