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Extra pounds are helping McDonald stay strong

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  • Extra pounds are helping McDonald stay strong

    Extra pounds are helping McDonald stay strong
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    MACOMB, Ill. - Last winter, wide receiver Shaun McDonald was asked to report to Rams Park on March 1 - a full month before the start of the team's offseason conditioning program.

    It shortened his offseason, but helped his career.

    "It definitely helped me," McDonald said. "I'm glad I did it."

    McDonald used the extra time to do a lot of weightlifting and running. By design, he put on 10 pounds - "ballooning" all the way up to ... 182 pounds. What a horse.

    By midseason in 2003, his rookie season, McDonald had dipped into the 160s.

    "I want to try to be over 175 the whole year," McDonald said.

    The better to take the pounding from defensive backs after receptions, or throw the occasional downfield block. Last training camp, with wide receivers going down with injuries all around him, McDonald kept going and got worn down.

    This year, he's still getting a lot of work in camp, but he seems to be handling it better. He has had a few drops on the practice field. But McDonald appears to have his quickness and lateral movement back - qualities that got the Rams excited about drafting him in the fourth round last year despite his small stature.

    "I've got all that back," McDonald said. "I think I'm just in better shape. I'm trying to stay healthy this year and make it through the season."

    McDonald also is mentally fresher this year.

    "Mentally, I'm not as tired because I'm not thinking as much," he said. "I'm a lot more confident, just knowing what I'm doing out there. I'm not thinking as much as last year - I'm just going out there and trying to perform."

    McDonald began the '03 season as the Rams' No. 3 wide receiver. He caught six passes for 46 yards in the season opener against the New York Giants but suffered a thumb injury in that game that sidelined him for the next four weeks. After the layoff, McDonald was unable to work his way back up the depth chart. He caught only four more passes the rest of the season, playing in only seven of the final 11 games of the regular season.

    This season, McDonald faces a tough chore trying to break into the rotation at wide receiver. However, early indications are that he will get a chance to earn the punt returner's job, which could get him on the field on game day.

    "If I get back there, it's going to be fun to get the ball in my hands and try to make things happen," McDonald said.

    Randall jumps right in

    Newly signed offensive tackle Greg Randall reported to camp in decent shape and has made a good impression on coach Mike Martz in his first practices with the team.

    "The thing that's been impressive is he has made a very small amount of mental errors for all the things that we've thrown at him," Martz said. "He's in better shape than I would have anticipated."

    Randall has been working with the second-team offense at right tackle.

    Back to work

    After a day off Sunday, the Rams return to work today with meetings and an afternoon practice at Western Illinois University.

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamDez
    McDonald makes his presence felt
    by RamDez
    McDonald makes his presence felt
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Although Sacramento Kings guard Mike Bibby, a former All-American at Arizona and the No. 2 overall selection in the 1998 NBA draft, is his cousin and confidant, Shaun McDonald figured out long ago that basketball wasn't his sport.

    "I quit in eighth grade," he explained. "I kind of knew I wasn't going to be too tall, so I had to give that dream up real fast."

    But McDonald is making a nice living as a professional athlete: He is in his second season as a wide receiver and punt returner with the Rams. Over the last two games, he has been a key factor in victories at San Francisco and Seattle.

    McDonald's first NFL touchdown reception, on a 6-yard pass from quarterback Marc Bulger, put the Rams up 14-0 in the first quarter against the ***** at Monster Park. Bibby attended the game, won by the Rams 24-14, but he missed the TD catch.

    "He got out of practice too late," McDonald said. "But it was great to see him."

    McDonald made three big plays Sunday, when the Rams rallied past the Seahawks 33-27 in overtime:

    His 24-yard catch, on a third-and-8 play, took the team to the 8-yard line. Bulger hit tight end Brandon Manumaleuna for a touchdown on the next play that cut Seattle's lead to 27-17 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

    Three plays later, McDonald lugged a punt 39 yards to the Seahawks 41-yard line. On the next snap, Bulger found wideout Kevin Curtis in the end zone, and it was 27-24 with 3:30 to go.

    On the first series after Jeff Wilkins' 36-yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining forced overtime, Bulger spotted McDonald sprinting down the right size on a "hot" read in reaction to a Seahawks blitz. The pass hit McDonald on the fingertips, and the 52-yard TD ended the proceedings.

    "Any time the ball's in the air, I think it's mine, I think I'm going to get it no matter what," he said. "The whole time, I was thinking, 'touchdown.' .. As a competitor, you want the game on the line and you want to be able to contribute to the play that wins it."

    McDonald, a fourth-round draft pick last year, is listed at 5 feet 10, but he acknowledged that he's at least an inch shorter. He said he weighs 180 pounds -but probably only after a heavy meal.

    "My whole life, people have been saying I'm too small to play football," said McDonald, a Phoenix native. "So it's something I'm used to. It doesn't really bother me anymore. I think it's about how big you play, and not about your size."

    At Arizona State, McDonald's 2,993 receiving yards fell just 126 short of John Jefferson's school record. But largely because of a thumb injury that limited him to eight games, McDonald's impact last year as a rookie
    -10-17-2004, 10:37 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams wide receiver hopes to bounce back
    by RamWraith
    Thumb injury set him back last year
    [email protected]

    MACOMB - St. Louis Rams wide receiver Shaun McDonald feels like he's starting over again in the NFL.

    "I'm basically a rookie again," McDonald said. "I didn't prove anything last year, so I didn't come in here with a spot waiting for me. I just have to come in here and show that I can contribute and I belong out there."

    McDonald was the first of the Rams' two fourth-round draft choice in 2003.

    The shifty receiver out of Arizona State was supposed to fill the role of offensive catalyst that the Rams had been missing since Az-Zahir Hakim signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Detroit Lions after the 2001 season.

    However, McDonald's rookie season was scuttled by a thumb injury suffered in the team's season opener against the New York Giants.

    He ended up playing in only seven of the team's final 15 games. He caught 10 passes for 62 yards and didn't return a punt or a kickoff as he was passed over on the depth chart by both Dane Looker and Mike Furrey.

    So now McDonald, 23, must re-establish him as a valuable commodity on both offense and special teams.

    That process started with him catching a team-high five passes for 78 yards in the Rams' 13-10 overtime loss to the Chicago Bears last Friday in the preseason opener for both teams.

    "No question he got my attention," Rams coach Mike Martz said of McDonald. "All six of those receivers (Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Looker, Furrey, Kevin Curtis and McDonald), I'm pleased with."

    McDonald also got the attention of the 65,000-plus fans at the Edward Jones Dome when he returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Bears.

    Unfortunately, the touchdown was negated by an illegal block above the waist on Rams rookie Dusty McGrorty. McDonald said he didn't notice the penalty flag right away.

    "About halfway through the celebration, I turned around ... it's football," McDonald said. "Those things happen. We're going to correct that, and during the season, we'll probably have a few punt returns for touchdowns."

    The Rams have returned only one punt for a touchdown -- Dre' Bly scampered 78 yards on a punt return against Arizona during the 2002 season -- over the past three seasons.

    The Rams have allowed nine returns for touchdowns over that span.

    The Rams' coverage units were victimized once again on Friday night as the Bears' Ahmad Merritt had an 87-yard return on the opening kickoff of overtime, setting up Paul Edinger's game-winning 35-yard field goal.

    McDonald said the players from both teams weren't too excited about going to overtime in a preseason game.

    "They wanted to win...
    -08-18-2004, 04:29 AM
  • RamWraith
    The Graduate
    by RamWraith
    Sunday, July 30, 2006

    By Casey Brown

    Sometimes the ball is simply out of reach for Rams wide receiver Shaun McDonald. Maybe the pass was a little low or too high but there is always the next opportunity over the course of practice or in the game to make a true catch.

    McDonald came to terms recently with another opportunity over which he had more control. It was an object he had never wrapped his hands around but now it is in his possession: a college degree.

    McDonald declared himself eligible for the 2003 NFL Draft and left Arizona State University with just one semester remaining before graduation. That move added McDonald to the 46 percent of college football players that fail to graduate within six years of enrolling at their respective universities.

    Three years after being drafted by the Rams in the fourth round of the ’03 draft, McDonald was back in Tempe, not as a student-athlete…just a student.

    “I spent a lot of time in class while I was playing football there (Arizona State) and I only had a semester left, so I figured it would be a waste to let all that go and not go back for just one semester,” McDonald said. “Once I got the off-season schedule down, I decided to go back.”

    By staying in touch with Arizona State officials and with the help of Rams Player Development Coordinator Ray Ogas, McDonald now has a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

    “He (Ray) helped me with what I needed to do to get into the program. He kept me in contact with the people who run the education program with the NFL,” McDonald said. “It was definitely worth it.”

    Ogas, in his seventh year with the Rams, has helped McDonald, Isaac Bruce, Marshall Faulk and Orlando Pace pursue their degrees.

    “Some guys will come in right away and say, ‘Ray, I don’t want to let it go and drift away from it (graduation),” Ogas said. “They’re pretty good about it. When you bring it to their attention, they say, ‘Hey, you know, I think I’m going to get this taken care of.’”

    The NFL player development department will reimburse players returning to school up to $15,000 per year for tuition costs.

    McDonald saw a significant increase in his grade point average following his return to the classroom. He credits an increased focus and a higher level of maturity for his 4.0 GPA in the last 12 hours of his undergraduate study.

    “I had more time to concentrate,” said McDonald, who had compiled a 2.57 GPA in his earlier stay at ASU. “I’ve definitely matured a lot since being in the league. I’m a lot older and I took it a lot more serious then when I was in school.”...
    -07-30-2006, 02:20 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    T.J. McDonald Making Progress
    by r8rh8rmike
    T.J. McDonald making progress

    November, 7, 2013
    Nov 7

    By Nick Wagoner |

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams safety T.J. McDonald isn't yet eligible to come off the injured reserve/designated to return list, but he will be soon. And when he is, all indications are that he'll be healthy enough to resume practice.

    “He’s progressing nicely," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "He’s actually on land running right now, so that’s a huge step for him. We won’t have any problems with the timing of that.”

    McDonaldMcDonald suffered a fracture in his leg against San Francisco on Sept. 26. That was Week 4 of the season. Soon after, the Rams placed him on the aforementioned list, a designation that allows him to return to practice after six weeks and return to games after eight.

    Based on that timeline, McDonald could return to practice next week when the team is on its bye, and be eligible for his first game back on Dec. 1 at San Francisco. That also works under the assumption that McDonald will be healthy and cleared to play by then.

    Getting McDonald back would be good for the Rams on a couple fronts. First, they have struggled mightily at safety for most of the season, particularly with him out of the lineup. Although he struggled with some missed tackles in his first four games, he generally was in the right position and was more than willing to come up and hit someone.

    Second, the Rams need every game possible to develop young talent such as McDonald. Who knows how much further along he'd be if he'd been healthy all season? The sooner he returns, the sooner he can get valuable game experience.

    As for the Rams' injury report, running back Zac Stacy (foot) continued to follow what's becoming his weekly protocol by returning to practice on a limited basis Thursday. He didn't practice Wednesday, but again looks like he's going to be ready to go Sunday against Indianapolis.

    Guard Harvey Dahl (knee), quarterback Brady Quinn (hip) and tight end Lance Kendricks (hand) did not practice again Thursday.
    -11-08-2013, 02:38 PM
  • Rambos
    T.J. McDonald's role expected to expand
    by Rambos
    June, 12, 2014

    By Nick Wagoner |

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams have an extensive history of working together. Their defensive philosophies are similar and, now that they are reunited in St. Louis, the scheme isn't expected to change much at its core.

    Sure, there will be tweaks here and there, but for the most part, the roles of the 11 defenders will be the same. But there is one player on the defense who figures to have much more on his plate in 2014 if Williams' history is any indication.

    Second-year safety T.J. McDonald stepped into a starting role immediately as a rookie and Fisher clearly trusted him to take on a lot of responsibility in the defense. That role will almost certainly expand for McDonald in Year 2.

    T.J. McDonald figures to be a useful piece in coordinator Gregg Williams' scheme for the Rams.

    “When T.J. got going early in the season before the injury, you didn’t look at T.J. and see a rookie," Fisher said. "You saw someone that played like an experienced player. With that being said, Year 2 is completely different. He understands, he’s in great shape right now. Gregg’s going to be able to do a lot of things with him on defense.”

    For evidence of how that might manifest itself, one need only to look at how Williams has used big, athletic safeties in his recent past. While serving as the defensive coordinator in New Orleans, Williams was able to take veteran safety Roman Harper and turn him into a two-time Pro Bowler. He did so by using the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Harper like a sort of safety Swiss Army Knife.

    Harper spent plenty of time in the box, blitzing frequently and essentially serving as a de facto fourth linebacker. In three years with Williams as his coordinator, Harper posted 287 tackles, 12 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and 16 run stuffs.

    After learning of Williams' hiring, McDonald, the son of six-time All Pro safety Tim McDonald, quickly took to studying how Williams had deployed his safeties in the past. He immediately liked what he saw and began envisioning himself doing many of the things Harper once did.

    "That is me," McDonald said. "I feel like that fits my game pretty well and it is me right now. Once I get a grip on it and everything comes together, I’m confident I’ll be able to make plays."

    At 6-foot-2, 217 pounds, McDonald actually cuts a more imposing figure than Harper, but it's easy to see how he could fit into a similar role. While McDonald has flashed some solid cover skills, he's probably best used closer to the line of scrimmage, especially so long as the smaller and speedier Rodney McLeod is playing more of a center field spot on the back end.

    The Rams plugged McDonald into the 2013 starting lineup right away, a move that belied his...
    -06-12-2014, 12:27 PM