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  • Veteran steps in for his injured teammate

    Veteran steps in for his injured teammate
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    MACOMB, Ill. - Don't look for Bernard Holsey in an instructional fitness video any time soon. The veteran defensive tackle was doing a plyometrics workout during the offseason when he lost his equilibrium.

    "It was one of those freak accidents," Holsey said. "I was doing box jumps and kind of lost my balance. I fell down and my leg kind of stayed up on the box."

    He suffered a torn quadriceps tendon in his left leg and underwent surgery in February. Which is hardly the best way to begin the offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

    Because of the surgery, Holsey wasn't expecting to hear from NFL teams until the start of training camp. Much to his surprise, the Rams signed him to a one-year, $660,000 contract on June 18.

    "I really wasn't expecting that," Holsey said. "The Rams came out of the blue on that one. I really appreciate their trust and faith in me that everything's going to work out for the best."

    For the most part, Holsey had been a spectator during the first nine days of camp as he continued rehabilitation work on his leg. Now, it's time for Holsey to reward the Rams for that "trust and faith."

    Thursday afternoon, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy was lost for 10 to 12 weeks with a fractured foot. On Friday afternoon, Holsey took part in his first full-scale practice with the Rams.

    Kennedy wasn't going to start this season; Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis will handle those chores. But Kennedy had shown enough to merit a spot in defensive line coach Bill Kollar's rotation.

    "Obviously, he still had a ways to go," Kollar said. "But he was getting better and working pretty hard."

    With Kennedy shelved for at least half the season, Holsey becomes the No. 1 candidate for the No. 3 spot at defensive tackle.

    "To me, starting is not that important," Holsey said. "I'm here to play. And the way Coach Kollar rotates his guys, I'm going to get to play a good amount."

    Given Lewis' injury history, Holsey could play even more than he thinks. An eight-year veteran from Duke, Holsey has played for the New York Giants, Indianapolis, New England and Washington. He has started only 33 of 104 games over that span, but started all 16 games last season for the Redskins.

    "He's a stout-looking guy and stuff," Kollar said. "I know he's a tough guy, which we like."

    Other possibilities for tackle help off the bench include defensive captain Tyoka Jackson and youngsters Brian Howard, Justin Montgomery and Kevin Aldridge.

    "Over the last couple years, Ty has really done a good job at left end for us, and we really like him out there," Kollar said. "But he might have to go in and help inside."

    Previously, Jackson had been used inside in pass-rushing situations. But that could change. Prior to Kennedy's injury, Aldridge, Howard and Montgomery were roster long shots at best. But that could change.

    "It gives those guys a great opportunity to go out and show what they're able to do, and see if they can end up making the ballclub," Kollar said.

    Aldridge has shown some quickness but has been slowed by a groin injury. Howard, an undrafted rookie from Idaho, has shown steady improvement early in camp. He is a high-effort player with some quickness but is on the light side at 278 and lacks strength.

    Even if Holsey settles in as the No. 3 defensive tackle, Kennedy's injury increases Howard's chances of making the squad. "It should," Howard said. "But you've just got to keep playing like you've been playing. It shouldn't affect your play when somebody gets hurt like that. You just kind of do what you do."

    On the starting unit, Lewis has been impressive early in camp, but the same was true last year, only to have him fizzle out during the regular season. Pickett showed up heavy for camp this summer and is working himself back into form.

    For his part, coach Mike Martz says he's not worried about the defensive tackle situation.

    "We've got 14 defensive linemen," Martz said. "So it's not like we're desperate here for numbers. We've got plenty of good players inside who'll do a good job. I'm more concerned about the offensive line. We're not very deep there."

    As for Kennedy, he is seeking a second opinion on the foot before undergoing surgery.

    "I feel bad for him because he was starting to progress," Jackson said. "It hurts our team a little bit because he was going to be a valuable part of what we're doing. But that's the NFL, to be honest with you. The train doesn't stop for anybody. . . . As a group, we have to lift our play and keep going."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamDez
    Kennedy's stock is rising after unproductive year
    by RamDez
    Kennedy's stock is rising after unproductive year
    By Bill Coats

    Of the Post-Dispatch


    Sure, Rams defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy acknowledged, the surgically repaired fifth metatarsal in his right foot still hurts from time to time. But he has a plan.

    "We'll make this run to the Super Bowl," Kennedy said, "and then I'll get a chance to rest it up for a little bit."

    Nice strategy, but perhaps a bit heady, considering that the Rams (5-6) are clinging to playoff hopes as they head into Sunday's contest against San Francisco (1-10) at the Edward Jones Dome.

    Still, Kennedy's upbeat attitude is understandable. Finally healthy after more than three months on the sideline, and finally making an impact after a highly disappointing rookie season, Kennedy is feeling downright bubbly these days. And if he gets his first NFL start Sunday, his exuberance will go even higher.

    "I'm not really thinking about" starting, insisted Kennedy, who spent considerable time with the first unit in practice this week. "Since I came back, we've been having a weird rotation. One day I'm with the ones, the next day I'm with the threes. ... I'm just trying to get better every day, and whatever happens, happens."

    The Rams spent their first-round draft spot, No. 12 overall, last year for Kennedy, a 6-foot-4, 320-pounder out of Penn State. They didn't get much in return: Kennedy appeared in 13 games as a reserve, recording just 10 tackles.

    He seemed to be making significant strides early in training camp before he was hurt. Martz praised Kennedy for using his down time to bulk up, and he's been a consistent contributor, with increasing playing time, in the past three games since his return.

    Kennedy had a career-high five tackles, including three solo stops, Monday night in the Rams' 45-17 loss at Green Bay. Rookie Brian Howard started alongside Ryan Pickett in place of Damione Lewis, collecting three tackles, but Kennedy got plenty of work.

    "He played very well, and he's going to play more," Martz said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do, and he's made outstanding progress."

    Kennedy, 25, said the rehab and comeback after the injury have "been a battle, a tough battle, fighting through the soreness, scar tissue breaking up and having to go out there and still practice. But the way I feel right now is, I missed so much time that even if it's sore, I still want to be out there on the field."

    And despite his optimism, Kennedy realizes that the Rams need all the help they can get in their quest for a postseason berth. He issued a challenge of sorts to his teammates.

    "Right now as a team, our backs are against the wall," he said. "We're going to have to see how we're going to
    -12-04-2004, 01:04 AM
  • RamDez
    Things are taking shape for Kennedy after wasted season
    by RamDez
    Things are taking shape for Kennedy after wasted season
    By Bill Coats

    Of the Post-Dispatch

    MACOMB, Ill. - To some degree, Rams defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy was a victim of bad advice last year as a rookie.

    "When I was in college, a lot of guys came back - LaVar Arrington and some other players that we had there at Penn State - and told me how easy (NFL) practices were, how I'd dominate on the pro level, and different things like that," Kennedy said.

    So, he acknowledged, he wasn't even close to being ready for the rigors that lay ahead of him.

    "When I came into camp last year, I felt weaker because I'd lost a lot of weight, and I didn't really know what to expect from the coaches," he said. "And I can't say my work ethic was as high as it should be. This year, I'm stronger and I know what to expect."

    And, according to coach Mike Martz, significantly closer to living up to the hype that comes with being a first-round draft pick. "He's much-improved, absolutely, from last year; there's no question," Martz said. "You notice him. He's made some plays out here."

    As the 12th overall selection in the 2003 draft, the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Kennedy was expected to make a big splash. Instead, he barely created a ripple. Kennedy, 24, played sparingly and in only 12 games, making 10 tackles.

    If he had a personal highlight, it was a tipped Jeff Blake pass that linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa intercepted in a 30-24 victory at Arizona.

    But the lows far outweighed the highs. "It was definitely frustrating going out there every game and just standing on the sideline," he said. "But it was a learning experience. I looked at it as a redshirt year."

    In the offseason, Kennedy devoted himself to the weight room, and the effects are noticeable. "It's paid off," Martz said. "To stand out and move up now, he really needs to kind of pour on the steam. He's moving in the right direction."

    When tackle Brian Young signed a free-agent deal with New Orleans, an opening was created on the defensive line. For now, Damione Lewis has moved into the first-team slot, but Kennedy is being counted on to at least provide effective depth.

    "Jimmy did not have a good year last year, but he's had a pretty good offseason," defensive line coach Bill Kollar said. "He's gotten his upper body quite a bit stronger, and we're hoping that he can come on and really help us out this year."

    Kennedy is getting plenty of reps in camp at Western Illinois University and, Martz noted, has been keeping up with his linemates. "He's up there at the same practice pace and intensity," Martz said.

    A bout with back spasms kept Kennedy sidelined for one day, but
    -08-03-2004, 11:18 AM
  • RamWraith
    Kennedy starts season with air of confidence
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Sep. 09 2005

    While Jimmy Kennedy's broken right foot healed last year, his psyche also was
    on the mend.

    Three months on the sideline "allowed me to appreciate what I'm doing and
    accept this job as a blessing," said Kennedy, a defensive tackle out of Penn
    State who was the 12th overall selection in the 2003 draft. "Not everybody can
    play football."

    Some observers wondered whether Kennedy could play football as he struggled
    through a wrenching rookie season. Out of shape and unprepared for the jump to
    the NFL, Kennedy wasn't even allowed to suit up for the first two games and
    didn't get on the field until the fourth. By season's end, he had recorded a
    mere 10 tackles.

    When the fifth metatarsal bone on his right foot snapped early in training camp
    last year, Kennedy feared that another season had been lost. He figured he'd go
    on injured reserve, but coach Mike Martz nixed that idea. He wanted Kennedy to
    put in the necessary work - and learn how to deal with pain - in an effort to
    salvage at least a part of the season.

    Kennedy not only bulked up in the weight room and rehabbed furiously, he
    decided to modify the way he approached the game.

    "I felt myself trying to please the organization," he said. "I forgot that the
    Rams drafted me because they had to see something in me in college, and I
    wasn't playing my game my first year. I was too busy trying to play (defensive
    line coach Bill) Kollar's game, Mike Martz's game and the rest of those guys'
    games upstairs.

    "That was because I didn't know what it took to become a pro. So I said, 'You
    know what? Just let me play the way I played in college and just pick it up a
    notch.' And that's all I'm doing right now."

    Despite considerable soreness, Kennedy started the last five regular-season
    games and both playoff contests. He defended his first-team status throughout
    camp and will be in the lineup Sunday when the Rams open the season.

    "He's had a very good preseason," Martz said. "I thought that particularly in
    the last two games, he showed up bigger and bigger. We need to have him be that
    way during the season."

    As for the foot, Kennedy said: "It feels great. I don't even think about it

    Hodges is rarin' to go

    Rookie punter Reggie Hodges, who withstood a rough start in camp as well as a
    challenge from veteran Bryan Barker, is awaiting his first regular-season NFL
    action impatiently.

    "I can't wait," said Hodges, a sixth-round draft pick from Ball State....
    -09-10-2005, 05:07 AM
  • RamWraith
    Kennedy suffers broken foot--out season
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    MACOMB, Ill. - The Rams had their first serious injury of training camp Thursday afternoon, when defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy suffered a broken right foot that could sideline him for most, if not all, of the 2004 season.

    Kennedy suffered the injury during a one-on-one pass-rushing drill against the Chicago Bears, who are in town for three days of joint practices with the Rams. It was a non-contact injury: Kennedy was planting his foot to make a cut when he heard a pop, and went down with the injury.

    Coach Mike Martz was unaware of the severity of the injury after practice, and told the assembled media at the time that it was simply a foot injury. But post-practice examination by the Rams' medical staff revealed the severity of the injury.

    Kennedy left Macomb on crutches at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday, heading back for St. Louis and surgery today. Martz could not be reached later to comment, but team officials confirmed the injury and confirmed the fact that Kennedy will be sidelined for at least three months.

    Under that timetable, Kennedy would be sidelined until early to mid-November. Even then, and with no further setbacks, it might take several additional weeks for Kennedy to round into "football" shape.

    The No. 12 overall pick in the 2003 draft, Kennedy had a highly disappointing rookie season. But he dedicated himself more fully to offseason conditioning and reported to training camp bigger, stronger and in much better shape this season.

    It would be a stretch to say that Kennedy had been a star during the first week of Rams camp at Western Illinois University, but he at least looked like he belonged, and looked like he might be able to contribute in the Rams' defensive line rotation this season.

    Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis are the starters at defensive tackle. But Kennedy's injury leaves only newcomer Bernard Holsey with any experience as a backup tackle. Holsey has been basically a spectator in camp so far as he recovers from offseason surgery. The Rams have been using Tyoka Jackson mainly as a defensive end in camp, but Kennedy's injury might force the Rams to use Jackson more at tackle.
    -08-06-2004, 05:33 AM
  • RamWraith
    Comeback Kennedy
    by RamWraith
    Published Friday, August 05, 2005

    ST. LOUIS - Late during his second season with the St. Louis Rams last year, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy began making some pretty big strides.

    That was very significant, considering for the first seven games last season - after breaking his right foot in training camp a year ago - the 2003 first-round draft selection wasn't able to make any strides at all.

    Now the Rams are hoping the 6-foot-4, 320-pound third-year player out of Penn State picks up where he left off last season. And so far this training camp, Kennedy, 25, definitely has left coach Mike Martz with that favorable impression.

    "He is probably the most dramatic change in any football player that I've ever been around in one year," Martz stated. "From where he was a year ago to where he is right now - he's not even the same person.

    "I think that the strength that he's gained has been pretty dramatic in terms of allowing him to do things physically on the field. We've allowed him to be a little heavier than maybe what he was in the past - what we wanted him to be in the past - and he's started to be more comfortable with it."

    That began to manifest itself late last season - after Kennedy had reassessed his career and recommitted himself to the weight room. After totaling just 10 tackles during his disappointing rookie season, Kennedy recorded 40 tackles in the final nine games last season and recorded his first sack in the NFC Wild Card game at Seattle.

    "The good thing about it was, when I broke my foot, everybody was looking at me coming into the weight room saying that I was getting bigger but my weight was the same," said Kennedy, noting he is only three pounds heavier than his 317 rookie weight. "Coach Martz and those guys saw how hard I was working on getting back. And they said 'He's one of the strongest guys on the team.'

    "They said, 'How is this guy bigger, faster and stronger?' Because my energy is up. I'm at my regular playing weight."

    But now his weight distribution, especially in his upper body, is much better suited to the rigors of an NFL defensive lineman.

    And Martz believes Kennedy's transformation has been psychological as well as physical, noting the two have gone hand in hand.

    "He's having a lot of fun," Martz said. "I think the confidence that he's gained from his strength has allowed him to do some things physically that he wasn't able to do before.

    "I think when kids come here with that No. 1 pick like that, there's so much pressure on them. And physically, he wasn't ready to play (in 2003). But there's a pride factor involved, too, so he took it upon himself to get himself physically prepared, and with that came the confidence....
    -08-05-2005, 06:34 PM