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Rams rookie Hargrove sees position switch as just another challenge

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  • Rams rookie Hargrove sees position switch as just another challenge

    Rams rookie Hargrove sees position switch as just another challenge
    Knight Ridder Newspapers

    ST. LOUIS - (KRT) - As a rookie, Anthony Hargrove wasn`t going to argue when St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz told him that he was moving from defensive end to defensive tackle.

    "I`m not going to say, `This (stinks). I`m not going to do this,"" Hargrove said. "I just see it as another challenge. Survival of the fittest, that`s what the NFL is about. Those who adapt to new situations are going to stay in this league the longest. If I adapt to this new challenge, I hope it keeps me in the league longer."

    Hargrove, a third-round draft choice this past spring, said he actually welcomes the switch if it enables him to make a bigger contribution this season.

    The Rams are set at defensive end with Leonard Little, Bryce Fisher, Sean Moran, Tyoka Jackson and Erik Flowers, but they`re short-handed at defensive tackle with Jimmy Kennedy likely lost for the season because of a broken foot.

    "Coach Martz told me in a meeting two days ago," Hargrove said. "He thinks with the way I come off the ball and the way I play, that`s a natural fit for me. I`m happy to take the challenge. I think it`s going to be a real comfortable move."

    Hargrove is working behind starter Damione Lewis at the three-technique position.

    "The biggest thing is that at defensive end you have the space to make moves," Hargrove said. "At defensive tackle when you come off the ball, the guy is into you already. Now it`s a matter of using my quickness to make moves off my first step instead of maybe my third or fourth one."

    Hargrove knows he needs to put on a few pounds - he currently weighs 280 pounds - to play defensive tackle.

    "Oh, definitely," Hargrove said. "Coach Martz said I could get up to 290 or 295 and carry it fine. They`re asking me to bulk up a little more."

    Jackson, the Rams defensive captain, said moving Hargrove to defensive tackle makes a lot of sense.

    "He`s 6-4, 285 pounds, and he`s probably the strongest dude on the team and he`s probably as fast as Leonard (Little), so, yeah, I`m cool with that," Jackson said. "He just wants to play. That`s the type of attitude he has. He`s going to make mistakes because he is a rookie, but he is going to make plays, too."

    It`s been a tumultuous week for Hargrove, whose family`s house in Punta Gorda, Fla., was destroyed by Hurricane Charley.

    Hargrove was on the telephone with his brother last Friday when the hurricane hit.

    "Hearing him screaming and hearing my family in the background going hysterical; it was crazy," Hargrove said.

    After clearing it with Rams player programs director Ray Ogas, Hargrove rushed home to see his family.

    Hargrove`s ordeal wasn`t over yet as he was unable to contact his family or girlfriend due to the power outages in the Sunshine State.

    Finally, after exchanging radio transmissions with his brothers, Hargrove located his family.

    Hargrove said the damage to his hometown was so extensive that he didn`t recognize the neighborhood where he grew up.

    "It`s a real humble place," Hargrove said. "You ride through the city and you can just see everybody`s just sad and hurt. I rode down the highway, you could see people bringing bodies out, and you`re thinking that could`ve been loved ones."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamDez
    Hargrove is back where he belongs
    by RamDez
    Posted on Tue, Aug. 03, 2004_krdDartInc++;document.write('');
    Hargrove is back where he belongs

    Rookie defensive end didn't play last season

    By Steve Korte

    [email protected]

    MACOMB - A year ago, Anthony Hargrove was pushing planes away from the terminal at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta.

    Now Hargrove is pushing offensive tackle Grant Williams away from the line of scrimmage at the St. Louis Rams' training camp.

    "He's got a big wing span, but not as big as a Delta 88 or 757," Hargrove said of the 6-foot-7, 320-pound Williams.

    After being declared academically ineligible last year as a junior at Georgia Tech, Hargrove got a job as a ramp agent.

    "I'd get into a cart and push the planes out, I was a wing walker where I walked out with the plane making sure the wings didn't hit anything, I loaded and unloaded baggage," Hargrove said.

    The 6-foot-3, 269-pound Hargrove felt -- and looked -- out of place.

    "My problem was they didn't have a big enough uniform for me," Hargrove said. "I had to walk around in tight pants and a small shirt. The only fashion statement I was making was that I was just going to work every day."

    Hargrove, 21, kept himself in shape as he dreamed of playing football again.

    "I knew I didn't want to be there, I wanted to be on the field with my cleats and helmet on hitting people," Hargrove said. "I knew this is where I wanted to be, and I had to do whatever it takes to get here."

    The Rams, searching for an eventual replacement for right defensive end Grant Wistrom, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks, took a chance on Hargrove by selecting him in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft.

    Hargrove said he wasn't surprised to be drafted so high.

    "If I would have stayed in college another year, I think I would have had a chance to be a first-rounder," Hargrove said.

    Hargrove has been one of the early standouts in training camp. He has that rare combination -- a burst off the ball on the pass rush along with the strength to stuff the run -- that you need to be an every-down player at defensive end. If he can overcome the dreaded Steinke Hoo-Doo Pretty Tony curse, he should be just fine.

    "I love his ability," Rams defensive captain Tyoka Jackson said. "He's going to make mental mistakes because rookies do that, but he's working hard to get it down. When I look at Hargrove, I see a bigger Leonard Little, and that sounds pretty good to me."

    Little also sees a little of himself in Hargrove.

    "He's got all the tools to be a great player, and you know (defensive line coach Bill) Kollar is going to work with him until he becomes that player,"...
    -08-03-2004, 02:15 PM
  • RamWraith
    Hargrove Hopes Success Carries Over
    by RamWraith
    Monday, August 7, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    On any given day, during any normal training camp practice, there will be plenty of chatter on the field. For the most part, that talk is relatively reserved, but every once in a while the monotony of the day to grind will be broken up by loud, shrill screams.

    Those screeches can be heard all over the field and almost always originate from the guy wearing No. 95, defensive end Anthony Hargrove.

    “He keeps us amused because he has a lot of energy,” defensive end Leonard Little said. “I have always known Tony as a high energy guy, always laughing, joking around, jumping around. It keeps us laughing, but it also keeps us loosened up out there during practice.”

    Entering his third season in the NFL, Hargrove has never lacked energy or enthusiasm for football. On a consistent basis, Hargrove has been one of the team leaders in smiles and laughs.

    What he hasn’t been consistent about is sacking the quarterback or stuffing the run at his spot opposite Little. That’s one mission that Hargrove is taking steps to correct and he believes this is the year to do it.

    “That’s how I am treating it right now for myself as a make it or break it year,” Hargrove said. “It’s my third year; I finally should hopefully be the starter and trying to do the best I can to see where it goes from there. We’ll see what happens.”

    When the Rams drafted Hargrove with their third-round choice in 2004, he had been a year removed from football because of academic issues at Georgia Tech. When he was on the field, Hargrove had been a quarterback with little experience as a defensive end.

    But his size (6-3, 269 pounds) and athleticism made him an intriguing option for any team willing to take a chance on a bit of a project for the position. The Rams took that chance and Hargrove instantly became one of the team’s most impressive athletes.

    Hargrove was dominant on the practice field with his speed and agility, but it never quite translated to game days. Sure, there were flashes of the talent, but Hargrove lacked consistency from game to game.

    Finally, at the end of last season, something started to work for Hargrove. Never a fan of film study, Hargrove became a student of the game. He finished the year on a tear, recording 4.5 sacks in the final three games including a two-sack, fumble recovery, four tackle game in the finale against Dallas.

    “I started watching more film and watching pass rushers to see what they are doing that I wasn’t doing and that’s what I tried to do,” Hargrove said. “I just tried to do what they were doing.”

    What the likes of Dwight Freeney and Michael Strahan were doing was getting to the quarterback. Hargrove made it his mission to carry the confidence gained from his finish to the season into the offseason.
    -08-07-2006, 07:28 PM
  • RamWraith
    Hargrove Lands in Starting Role
    by RamWraith
    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Watching Anthony Hargrove go through a practice or play in a game can lead to any number of questions, but none might be more prominent than the simple wonderment of where he gets that endless energy supply.

    Some might say it’s his love of football and others might indicate that it comes down to the pursuit of a big contract. In reality, though, Hargrove’s engine is revved by jet fuel.

    You know, the kind of fuel used on airplanes, the kind of airplanes that could be found at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta. The exact airport that only two years ago employed Hargrove as a plane pusher.

    So, if you ever catch Hargrove taking a play or two off in a practice, it won’t last long, at least no so long as a 757 or any other plane continues to cruise of the Rams Park practice field.

    “Every time I hear those planes flying overhead it reminds me of where I was at,” Hargrove said. “So, any time I am on the field and I am tired and I hear a plane I get to work. I don’t want to go back to where I was at. I was getting a little tired in a nine-on-seven today and I saw a plane take off and I looked at Leonard and went to coach and asked to get back in and get back to work.”

    That was the first day of training camp when Hargrove saw that 757 flying in to Lambert Airport, but the relentless effort and attitude has never been a problem for the young defensive end.

    Hargrove’s energy was so abundant last season that no matter what the drill, if the ball hit the ground, he was the first one to get it. He would even chase down incompletions that were 30 yards down field and 15 yards out of bounds. His logic was a little fuzzy, but he reasoned that any time the ball hits the ground; the defense needs to come away with it.

    Hargrove impressed the coaching staff and his teammates with his boundless enthusiasm, but he was still a little rough around the edges. The raw power and speed was there, but the technique still needed work.

    There was early speculation that Hargrove would win the starting job opposite Leonard Little, but the Rams played it safe with Bryce Fisher. Hargrove didn’t let up, though, and claimed the starting spot by the Dec. 27 game against Philadelphia. Heading into this season, Hargrove has yet to relinquish that position.

    “I set goals for myself,” Hargrove said. “I told myself that by my second year I wanted to be a starter on this team. Last year I ended the season as a starter and this year, hopefully I can hang on to it. It makes me work harder to try to be No. 1.”

    The thought of Hargrove working harder isn’t exactly music to the ears of the teammates who must face him in one-on-one pass rush drills ever day. Alex Barron found out the hard about Hargrove’s excitable nature the hard way on...
    -08-19-2005, 05:34 AM
  • RamWraith
    Storm changes the world for rookie
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    MACOMB, Ill. - More than a thousand miles away, technology brought Anthony Hargrove close to his family during Hurricane Charley. It is an experience he will never forget.

    The Rams' rookie defensive end was talking on a cell phone Friday with one of his four brothers, Shermel, when Hurricane Charley hit the Hargrove home in Punta Gorda, Fla.

    "Shermel was giving me a play-by-play, with my mom screaming in the background," Hargrove said Tuesday. "Hearing them screaming, hearing my family in the background going hysterical, it was crazy."

    During the conversation, part of the roof was blown off. Suddenly, Hargrove lost connection with his brother. "I was trying to call him all day and get back with him," Hargrove said.

    If that weren't enough, Hargrove couldn't reach his girlfriend and their 15-month old son, Tre, who live nearby.

    "I knew I had to get down there and help them," he said.

    While all this was going on, Hargrove was in the process of returning to Macomb following the Rams' preseason game with Chicago the night before. When Hargrove informed Rams officials of his problem, he was told to go home and tend to his family. He turned right around and headed back to St. Louis from Macomb, taking the first flight out Saturday morning.

    Once in Florida, Hargrove finally made contact with one of his brothers, but still couldn't reach his parents. He went to his house, where he found his parents sorting through the debris.

    Hargrove had seen reports of hurricane damage before on television. "But up close and personal, no," he said. "That's something I hope nobody ever goes through, because now everybody has to start over. The thing that really hit me hard was that we lost our house.

    "So you think, 'Well, maybe I can go down to my friend's house and stay with him for the weekend.' But then you realize they don't have a house, either. It was crazy because you were wondering where your next meal was coming from. There was no water. There was no gas. Or cars. I mean, there was nothing. It was just completely wiped out."

    As he drove down the highway in his hometown, Hargrove saw rescue workers pulling bodies out of debris, trees snapped like pencils, power lines down, and yards of homes that looked like junkyards. When he finally made it home, his heart sank. The family home was in ruins.

    "Yeah, everybody has a sunroof in their room now," Hargrove said. "The roof is gone. There's stuff sticking out everywhere..

    "It's the place I've been living at for half my life, and now to see it gone like that is just. ... There's so many things that we did there. So many experiences."

    By 7 p.m. Saturday, Hargrove...
    -08-18-2004, 04:29 AM
  • RamWraith
    Hargrove will touch down back home as a key player for Rams
    by RamWraith
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Thursday, Jan. 13 2005

    Remember that 31-7 loss at Arizona back on Dec. 19?

    That fiasco had some redeeming value, after all. On an otherwise miserable day
    for the Rams, rookie defensive end Anthony Hargrove arrived as a forceful NFL

    He made six solo tackles -- plus another tackle for a loss -- and forced a
    fumble. His seven tackles in that game equaled his total since Oct. 24.

    Hargrove’s sudden outburst in Arizona earned him the opportunity to push Bryce
    Fisher for work at right defensive end. That, in turn, inspired Fisher to play
    the two best games of his brief NFL career.

    With those two guys trying to one-up each other, defensive tackles Ryan Pickett
    and Jimmy Kennedy have also played their best football of the season. Just as
    poor play becomes contagious, it seems, so does excellence.

    “We have guys that are competing everywhere on our defensive line,” Hargrove
    told reporters at Rams Park. “I think that is why our defensive line is getting
    better. We still have that competitive nature coming in and out. You never know
    who is going to play for us. Somebody might go out this week, and next week
    somebody different.”

    Not only has the defensive line effort improved, so has the comprehension.

    “It’s understanding the schemes on defense, and understanding where I need to
    be,” Hargrove said. “What's made our defense so much better is everybody is now
    together. We're united, and we're fitting in with each other more than we have
    all year. We're playing as a real, true defense. We're playing as one whole

    Hargrove credits Torry Holt for helping get him back on track in December. The
    veteran told the kid to relax, be himself and play his game. That sounds like
    simple advice, but it was exactly what Hargrove needed to hear.

    “I couldn’t get out of this little funk,” Hargrove said. “He was like, ‘chill,
    sit back and just relax,’” Hargrove said.

    The youngster has great athletic ability and vast potential. He is big, fast
    and strong. He has tremendous hands, too. Coach Mike Martz figures he could be
    an excellent tight end -– and he’d like to exploit those skills some day in a
    goal-line situation.

    After playing so little at Georgia Tech, though, Hargrove had much to learn
    about playing defensive end. He spent last year working at Hartsfield
    International Airport after losing his academic eligibility at Tech.

    If not for the NFL, he would still be at Hartsfield, pushing jets and operating
    the ramps. But come Friday, he’ll touch down in Atlanta as a key component of
    the current and future...
    -01-14-2005, 04:33 AM