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New Rams tackle is benefiting from teaching by an old hand

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  • New Rams tackle is benefiting from teaching by an old hand

    New Rams tackle is benefiting from teaching by an old hand
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Aug. 21 2004

    Asked what he knew about the long and distinguished career of former Rams
    tackle Jackie Slater, current Rams tackle Greg Randall could provide only
    limited specifics. "I know he was a great player in his time," Randall said.
    "And I know he started before I was born."

    Jackie Slater already had logged two NFL seasons when Gregory Wayne Randall
    first appeared on the scene, in Galveston, Texas. These days, they're working
    together. Randall, 26, is fighting for a spot in the lineup, and Slater, 50, is
    tutoring him in that endeavor.

    Slater helps out with the offensive linemen during training camp, and Randall
    said he's thrilled to have a Hall of Famer giving him advice.

    Apprised that Slater played 20 years - all with the Rams - before retiring
    after the 1995 season, Randall, a four-year vet, shook his head. "That's pretty
    hard to fathom," he said. "It's a blessing to be able to play that long and
    still come out healthy like he is now."

    The 6-foot-6, 333-pound Randall, who started all 16 games at right tackle for
    Houston last year, was signed as a free agent Aug. 2, about a week into camp.
    He's been playing catch-up since, trying to absorb the Rams' offensive
    approach. "It's coming a little easier," he said. "There's a lot more thinking
    than anybody else's offense."

    Because injuries have decimated the offensive line, Randall has been shoved
    into the middle of the action. He'd been working with the first unit since
    Grant Williams turned an ankle last week in Macomb, Ill. Williams was back at
    practice Saturday evening at Rams Park, and Randall was moved to the second

    Wilkins is no fan of preseason games

    If Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins were appointed NFL commissioner for a day, the
    first thing he'd do is pare the run-up to the regular season.

    "I hate preseason. I wish they'd cut it down to two games or three games," he
    said. "It just gets crazy. Four games . . . by the time the first
    (regular-season) game rolls around, you feel like it's halfway through the
    season and you've still got the full season to go."

    The tedium of training camp is even more pronounced for specialists such as
    Wilkins, who participate in few live drills and do most of their work on their
    own. "It gets pretty boring," said Wilkins, who is entering his 11th season.
    "We had a lot of free time (in Macomb, Ill.). What's nice now is breaking camp
    and getting back here. A change in scenery helps out."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamWraith
    Long shots hope to defy the odds, stick with Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Aug. 23 2005

    The "Turk" isn't here yet, but he's on his way. By Aug. 30, NFL rosters must be
    trimmed to 65. By Sept. 4, each roster shrinks to the regular-season limit of

    So in less than two weeks, one out of every three players currently practicing
    with the Rams will be out of a job. For some, these next few days will be their
    last in professional football.

    Until then, there's always hope. Hope that they can survive the roster
    cutdowns, and maybe - just maybe - become the next London Fletcher or Kurt
    Warner. Here's our annual look at some Rams roster long shots hoping to beat
    the odds:

    Jeremy Calahan: The next Zgonina?

    He has a stocky frame, thick calves, and wears jersey No. 90. If only Calahan
    were crabby on a regular basis, he'd be a dead ringer for Jeff Zgonina. The
    Rams thought so, too.

    "They took a picture of me and sent it to Zgonina as kind of a joke," Calahan

    The picture, taken in the Rams' indoor practice facility, shows defensive line
    coach Bill Kollar with his arm around Calahan. Zgonina, now with Miami, wore
    jersey No. 90 in five seasons with the Rams.

    "I didn't know (about the similarities) until I'd seen him on film," Calahan
    said. "The guy's just massive. He's huge. And he's a great player. I hope one
    day I can be at his level."

    At Rice, Calahan started three games as a true freshman, and was a full-time
    starter his final three college seasons. He's a hustle player who has shown a
    good inside push at times on the practice field. For a while, it looked as
    though he might give Brian Howard a run for the fourth defensive tackle spot
    behind first-round draft picks Ryan Pickett, Jimmy Kennedy, and Damione Lewis.
    But the arrival of 13-year NFL veteran John Parrella may change the depth-chart

    Not that it seems to matter to Calahan.

    "I'm having the time of my life," he said recently. "I think I fit in well with
    Coach Kollar. He's an effort and hard-work guy. He got me in here. So I'm just
    loving it. Just living a dream."

    If it doesn't work out, Calahan might start pursuing another dream - as the
    next super agent, or the next Jay Zygmunt. He already has his degree in
    economics, sports management and business management.

    Clifford Dukes: Spartan spirit

    Five years ago, Dukes and Rams quarterback Jeff Smoker entered Michigan State

    "I redshirted, so he left school a year before me," Dukes said. "We were
    actually suite-mates. Freshman...
    -08-24-2005, 05:51 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rested and ready for regular season, Rams' Wilkins begins kicking
    by RamWraith
    ST. LOUIS (AP) - Jeff Wilkins watched most of the preseason on the sidelines, waiting for the right moment to warm up for the real season.

    That time has come and Wilkins put in his most extensive workout Wednesday since the Rams reported for camp in early August. He will work with the first team during St. Louis' preseason game Saturday at Kansas City as he builds toward the regular season opener Sept. 10.

    “I do enough so I feel comfortable and I feel good,” he said. “Then you try and shut it down.”

    Wilkins, handling the bulk of the kicking work during practice, was a highlight Wednesday as the team inches closer to paring 10 players from its roster by Tuesday. They might make a cut sooner than that, however.

    As for Wilkins, finding the happy medium between preparing for the season and not overextending himself beforehand has been crucial in past seasons. He used to kick extensively during training camp, preseason practices and games and his leg was often worn out and somewhat ineffective by the latter part the season.

    Former coach Mike Martz decided a few years ago to limit the work Wilkins did before the season opener and now, in his 13th season overall and 10th with the Rams, the kicker was pleased new head coach Scott Linehan followed suit.

    Linehan said it made sense not to mess with the proven approach even if letting your No. 1 kicker sit for the bulk of training camp does not fit the norm of the league.

    “The proof is what he's done in the past,” Linehan said. “He came in one camp (several) years ago and kicked a whole bunch; kicked in preseason, kicked himself out of very good rhythm.”

    Starting Wednesday, the goal for Wilkins became finding his stroke and getting in sync with holder Dane Looker and long snapper Chris Massey. The trio has worked together the past four years.

    Looker said he and Wilkins talked following Wednesday's practice and agreed plenty of room remained for improvement but the groove should be found before the final preseason game. Remy Hamilton has handled most of the kicking prior to this week and while that allowed Massey and Looker to work together, it did not translate to an easy transition when Wilkins took over the duties.

    “You can hold it for different guys,” Looker said, “but when you don't have the center, the holder and the kicker all working in tandem for at least a couple of preseason games, you really don't get in the flow you're looking for.”
    -08-25-2006, 02:01 PM
  • RamDez
    Rams find Camp Macomb was much cooler than usual
    by RamDez
    Rams find Camp Macomb was much cooler than usual
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Aug. 21 2004

    For the Rams, Camp Macomb '04 is best summed up by one lingering snapshot. It
    was Thursday morning, on what turned out to be the last day of camp for the
    team at Western Illinois University.

    And there, doing his thing in the Rams secondary, was No. 35, Aeneas Williams .
    . . in sweatpants!

    Think about that for a moment. Training camp. Mid-August. Midwest. Sweatpants.

    So much for the dog days of August. In their 10 summers since the move to St.
    Louis, this has been the Rams' coolest training camp.

    "By far," head trainer Jim Anderson said. "I think we had maybe two (hot) days.
    We had that one Friday that was kind of in the low 90s and pretty humid a
    couple of weeks ago."

    And a couple of days where the temperature may have reached the mid-80s. But
    that was about it.

    "In past summers, it's been upper 90s and even up in the 100s on a few days. We
    just didn't have anything near that this year. Other than those (few) days, you
    couldn't have asked for a better camp."

    Gone are the days when tight end Troy Drayton collapsed in the dinner line
    because of dehydration. When offensive tackle Ryan Tucker sweated off 10 to 12
    pounds per practice. Or when Anderson's training staff would work overtime
    after practice administering IVs to restore fluids.

    "There were times when we'd do 10-12 IVs after a practice on a hot day,"
    Anderson said. "We didn't do one IV this year - not one. That's just pretty
    much unheard of for this part of the country."

    The weather, says middle linebacker Robert Thomas, "has just been a blessing."

    Some days, the Macomb weather was almost too cool, according to wide receiver
    Torry Holt.

    "It's kind of tough in the afternoons when it's cool like that," Holt said. "It
    takes a minute for the muscles to get going, and strains and different things
    like that can happen."

    Despite the resort weather, Camp Macomb '04 was hardly a, pardon the
    expression, country club.

    On that same cool morning last Thursday, defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson was
    dripping sweat when he spoke to reporters after practice. "Well, with Bill
    Kollar, he's going to find a way to get you wet," Jackson said. "That's not an

    Kollar is the Rams' defensive line coach.

    "Camp is still rough no matter where it is," Jackson said. "But the weather can
    make it either extra rough, or tolerable. So this year, it was pretty tolerable
    with the weather."

    -08-22-2004, 01:06 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams Cut Hart Graduate
    by RamWraith
    Matt Wing / Signal Staff Writer

    Wednesday morning Josh Cummings was working out with the St. Louis Rams as an NFL kicker.
    By Wednesday afternoon he was on his way back to Pittsburgh — living the life of the unemployed.
    The former Hart High and College of the Canyons kicker was cut after just over a month with the team when the Rams decided to bring back Remy Hamilton, a five-year veteran of the Arena Football League, who was with the team during the 2005 preseason.
    Hamilton was the 2005 AFL Kicker of the Year with the Los Angeles Avengers.
    Cummings went to practice Wednesday morning and was lifting weights with the team when he was called up to the coach’s office where he was told the news.
    His reaction: “I just wanted to know how I was getting home.”
    The Rams wasted no time answering that question.
    After the meeting, which took place around noon, Cummings was on a flight at 2:30 p.m. headed to Pittsburgh.
    Cummings was offered the backup kicking position during training camp and the preseason by the Rams’ special teams coach Bob Ligashesky, just after the NFL Draft on April 30 — right in the middle of the kicker’s graduation ceremony from the University of Pittsburgh.
    He participated in the Rams’ first rookie mini-camp on May 9-11 and another mini-camp May 16-18 before a full-squad mini-camp last week.
    “There’s nothing more that I could have done (during the mini-camps),” Cummings said. “They thought (Hamilton) was going to get picked up by Dallas and didn’t so they brought him back.”
    He was brought into St. Louis to take the majority of training camp and preseason kicks to lighten the load on veteran kicker Jeff Wilkins.
    Cummings was told when he accepted the job offer that he would be eventually cut in favor of Wilkins, but it would have been a great opportunity to show off his talents for other NFL teams.
    Now he hopes another team is willing to take a chance on him.
    Nothing is lined up yet but Cummings is still pursuing an NFL kicking career.
    “Right now I’m just talking with my agent to see where my options are and go from there,” Cummings said. “I haven’t really heard anything yet.”
    Cummings has received other job offers outside of football, but will do whatever it takes to continue his kicking career — with anyone willing to take the chance.
    “I’m going to keep trying to make a team,” Cummings said. “Even if it’s with an arena team. As long as I’m getting paid to kick a football, it doesn’t bother me.”
    -06-09-2006, 12:07 PM
  • RamWraith
    Inside Slant
    by RamWraith
    Inside Slant---FROM THE USA TODAY

    Things are different for Dane Looker as training camp approaches.

    Once hailed as "Little Ricky" because of his style of play is similar to former Rams receiver Ricky Proehl, Looker accepts the compliments, but wants to be his own man.

    That was tough for a while, as he struggled to make an NFL roster. He was an undrafted free agent in the Rams' 2000 training camp, and was opening some eyes when he was surprisingly traded to the Patriots on Aug. 7 that year.

    He made New England's roster, but ended the season on injured reserve and was then released on July 31 because of a hamstring injury. Looker was right back with the Rams for three weeks, but he wasn't healthy enough to make an impact. Out of football for the rest of the year, he re-signed with the Rams in February and excelled in NFL Europe, but the numbers game caught up to him again.

    Released on Sept. 2, he spent most of the season on the practice squad until being added to the active roster for the final three games of the season.

    Last year turned out to be his coming-out party. Making the roster also resulted in him being the holder for kicker Jeff Wilkins. Wilkins wanted him all along after the departure of, you guessed it, Proehl, but there was no guarantee Looker would make the roster.

    He helped Wilkins tie a league record with 39 field goals and offensively was third on the team with 47 receptions for 495 yards and three touchdowns. More important, 27 of his catches, including 18 on third down, were first-down plays.

    Despite his success, Looker takes nothing for granted.

    "We've got some good receivers on this team, so I'm going to have to improve on what I did last year and play better," he said. "Nothing's a guarantee."

    Coach Mike Martz loves his work ethic and competitiveness.

    "Dane was terrific last year, and looking at him out here, he just picked up where he left off," Martz said during the offseason.


    —The Rams report to training camp in Macomb, Ill., on July 27 with the first practice scheduled for the next day. They will be in camp until Aug. 20, three days before a Monday night game in Kansas City.

    The Chicago Bears, coached by former Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, will visit Rams camp for three days from Aug. 5-7. There will be one practice the first day, two the second and then a scrimmage on Aug. 7.

    Said coach Mike Martz, "Having a scrimmage there at the stadium on Saturday morning makes it exciting for everybody. It gives us a chance to look at a lot of our young players under competitive situations, and the same for the Bears. The most important aspect of it is after seven or eight days (of camp), you get a chance to look at your players in a...
    -07-19-2004, 07:05 AM