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  • Goodspeed gives Rams versatility at fullback

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Aug. 25 2004

    Joey Goodspeed didn't know when to quit. When the Rams released him in
    November, after just one week with the club, that made four teams in four
    seasons. In all that time, he had managed to appear in just 12 games - on
    special teams - for the San Diego Chargers.

    "It's been an uphill battle," he said. "I knew I could play at this level. It
    was just a matter of getting an opportunity."

    Well, opportunity is knocking for Goodspeed. Loud and clear.

    At the time of his release Nov. 7, the Rams told Goodspeed they planned to
    re-sign him in a week. They did just that. In fact, they signed him through the
    2004 season. He has been the Rams starting fullback ever since.

    It appears the long search to replace the Hammer - James Hodgins - is finally
    over. Last year at this time, coach Mike Martz practically was taking people
    out of the stands to play fullback.

    "We had 31 flavors," Martz joked. "We were taking (numbers) - No. 26, who's
    next?"

    No. 44 - Goodspeed - is next. Martz believes he could be the best all-around
    fullback the Rams have had since Martz returned to the Rams coaching staff in
    1999. Before tweaking a hamstring that sidelined him for the Kansas City game,
    but isn't a serious injury, Goodspeed was showing that on the field.

    "He's blossomed," Martz said. "He's probably more of a complete fullback than
    we've ever had here. He's a terrific receiver, an excellent blocker, and a good
    runner. So you'd have to give him high marks in all categories."

    Robert Holcombe, the starter in '99 and '00, was a better runner and a willing
    blocker. But Goodspeed is more stout at 247 pounds, and has better hands.
    Hodgins could be a devastating blocker at the point of attack but doesn't have
    Goodspeed's pass-catching or running ability.

    In a backfield that could include Marshall Faulk, Steven Jackson, Lamar Gordon
    and Arlen Harris at any time this season, Goodspeed doesn't figure to get many
    carries. But he did display his pass-catching ability in the preseason opener
    against Chicago with a 13-yard touchdown reception from Chris Chandler.

    "I was just kind of shocked that he actually saw me," Goodspeed said. "We have
    so many weapons in this offense, I'm usually the last in the line of
    progression. Sometimes I feel like a ghost out there when I'm running routes,
    but I was fortunate that Chandler saw me. It was cool."

    Goodspeed, 26, grew up a Bears fan in Oswego, Ill., 40 minutes southwest of
    Chicago. He went to Notre Dame as a linebacker but was switched to fullback.

    He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Pittsburgh in 2000, then
    bounced around to New Orleans and San Diego. But any chance of sticking with
    the Chargers ended in 2003, when San Diego signed Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo
    Neal. Goodspeed was cut after the Chargers' final preseason game last year and
    was out of work for two months.

    It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because Goodspeed's father - David
    - was dying of cancer at the time.

    "I do believe things happen for a reason," Goodspeed said. "I got to be home
    with him for his final days, and take care of the family and all that stuff."

    Not only had his father just died, a couple of Goodspeed's uncles had recently
    passed away before the Rams called.

    "It was hard," Goodspeed said. "But it was great that the Rams picked me up
    when they did because it kept my mind off it. And it also helped me release
    some aggression."

    In his first game back after being re-signed with the Rams, Goodspeed released
    some aggression on Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher. He threw a key block to
    help spring Faulk on a game-changing 52-yard run.

    Beginning with that Chicago game, Faulk reeled off four straight 100-yard
    rushing efforts. So Goodspeed must have been doing something right as a lead
    blocker. Goodspeed's play appeared to tail off after that. But after toying
    with the idea of adding a fullback via free agency or the draft, the Rams
    decided to stand pat in the offseason.

    Being with the Rams throughout the offseason program, minicamps, and training
    camp for the first time has helped Goodspeed immensely.

    "Just getting more familiar with the offense," Goodspeed said. "Last year, I
    was kind of staying up till midnight before games trying to know my
    assignments. I mean, this is a hard offense.

    "I guess the reason why I picked it up so fast is because I've been jumping
    around from team to team. So I've gotten accustomed to learning offenses
    quickly."

    You never know for sure in the NFL, but it looks like Goodspeed finally might
    have a little job stability.

    "It's a dream come true," Goodspeed said. "Especially being a starter. After
    everything I've been through, this is nice being able to say I made it."

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  • Nick
    Rams find Goodspeed at fullback
    by Nick
    Rams find Goodspeed at fullback
    One of many to try for open spot in '03
    BY STEVE KORTE
    [email protected]

    MACOMB - St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz jokingly compared his team's carousel of fullbacks last season to the variety of tastes offered at an ice cream shop.

    "We had 31 flavors," Martz said. "We were taking tickets at the window. No. 26 is next, please."

    After trying 10 different players at fullback last season, the Rams finally found a flavor they liked in third-year player Joey Goodspeed.

    Martz went as far as saying that the 6-foot-1, 247-pound Goodspeed could turn out to be a better fullback than James "The Hammer" Hodgins, who was released in a salary cap move before the start of free agency in 2003.

    "I think he might be the best fullback we've had," Martz said. "I feel confident about that. I'm just very, very high on Joey. He's never come out here and practiced poorly or had a bad day or made a bunch of mental mistakes. He catches the ball, he's smart, he's a pro. He's what you want all of your guys to be. I couldn't be more pleased with Joey."

    Goodspeed, 26, joined the Rams on Oct. 28 last year. The Notre Dame product solidified a starting job with a pancake block on All-Pro middle linebacker Brian Uhrlacher that enabled Marshall Faulk to break loose for a 52-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play in the Rams' 23-21 comeback win over the Bears on Nov. 16.

    Goodspeed ended up playing in eight games, including four starts at fullback.

    "Last season was a blur," Goodspeed said. "My mind wasn't fully on football. My mind was elsewhere."

    Goodspeed was cut by the San Diego Chargers after their final preseason game last year. Goodspeed said losing his job was actually a blessing in disguise.

    "My father was really sick, so I was home taking care of him and taking care of the family," Goodspeed said. "I was fortunate to get released. I was able to spend my dad's last weeks at home with him."

    Goodspeed said it was bittersweet for him to finally earn a starting job in the NFL after his father's death.

    "That was hard for me last year, finally being a starter in the NFL, something that he has always wanted to see," Goodspeed said. "He got to see me play a little bit in San Diego, so I guess I've got that going for me."

    Goodspeed said he was aware of the Rams' struggle in finding a replacement for Hodgins.

    "I heard they went through a lot of guys," Goodspeed said. "Fullback is not an easy position. We take some brutal hits out there. I don't know what they were trying to do last year. I remember I was sitting at home and my agent was calling me and kind of *****ing and moaning about how they don't have a fullback...
    -08-05-2004, 02:26 PM
  • RamWraith
    Cason steps up in the nick of time
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Sep. 05 2005

    One last chance. That's what running back Aveion Cason figured he had before
    the Rams' final preseason game Friday against Kansas City.

    A good performance might save him from the final round of cuts. But a poor
    showing almost surely would deprive him of a spot on the 53-man roster. Cason
    acknowledged that the butterflies in his belly were flapping furiously before
    kickoff at the Edward Jones Dome.

    "I had a lot of anxiety," said Cason, a 5-foot-10, 204-pound, fifth-year pro
    out of Illinois State. "Coach (Mike) Martz came to me and asked me if I was
    ready to go. I kind of figured I was going to be in there for a while. I
    thought, 'It's time to go.' ... I felt like I had to go in there and make some
    things happen."

    Cason's assessment of his situation was on the mark. Asked Monday whether Cason
    needed a strong outing against the Chiefs to make the team, Martz didn't
    hesitate. "Yes, he did," he said. "And I thought he had an excellent game."

    Cason, 26, carried 20 times for 67 yards and a 1-yard touchdown in the Rams'
    27-23 victory. He also averaged 23.0 yards on six kickoff returns. "His returns
    helped him immensely," Martz said.

    The cuts were made Saturday, a day earlier than the league deadline. "It kind
    of caught me off-guard," Cason said. "I was getting calls: 'This guy left, this
    guy's gone.'"

    How did he know he'd made the squad? "I didn't receive a call," he said,
    smiling. "That's how I looked at it."

    The Rams signed Cason as a free agent last Dec. 7 - a couple of months after
    Dallas released him - because Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson were nursing
    bruised knees. Cason didn't get any carries, but he averaged 22.1 yards on 14
    kickoff returns in three games.

    Some speculated that he would have to beat out Arlen Harris for a roster spot
    this year, but Martz kept four running backs. Cason again should see most of
    his action on special teams.

    "Ready to go"

    With the preseason schedule complete, the roster final and the season opener
    just six days off, a different atmosphere enveloped Rams Park on Monday.

    "It's very, very intense," Martz said. "The focus is incredible and the
    attention to detail. You start getting yourself ready, and you start thinking
    about the game. There are butterflies. It's that time of the year. Ready to
    go."

    With the rival ***** providing the opposition Sunday, the anticipation is amped
    up even more. "San Francisco's always special,"...
    -09-06-2005, 05:17 AM
  • RamDez
    Hedgecock Coming Along Well
    by RamDez
    Friday, September 2, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Madison Hedgecock hasn’t been in the NFL for long, but he is certainly smart enough to know that when he gets that rare opportunity to catch the ball, he better take advantage.
    As a fullback in the Rams’ high-octane offense, many things are expected of Hedgecock. Clearing a path for the tailback, sealing off a linebacker or chipping at a defensive end are among the duties that generally fall within the realm of Hedgecock’s duties.
    So, when quarterback Jamie Martin tossed the ball in the flat to Hedgecock with a little less than two minutes to go in the third quarter, Hedgecock was more than ready to be rewarded for his grunt work.
    He caught the ball around the 7, shed a blocker, squared his shoulders to the oncoming rush of defenders and burst toward the goal line all while trying to stay inbounds. As Hedgecock began driving toward the end zone, a memory of his last sideline/endzone foray hit him.
    “I remember I did that in high school and I actually got knocked out of bounds 1 yard short,” Hedgecock said. “I kind of had a flashback there.”
    But Hedgecock didn’t come up short this time. He jumped over a defender from about the 3, kept his feet inbounds and reached the ball over the goal line for his first professional touchdown.
    Although it was just a preseason game, it was pretty impressive for a rookie.
    “I think he is way ahead of where we thought he’d be,” coach Mike Martz said. “It’s one of those plays that you don’t expect out of a rookie fullback.”
    Hedgecock hasn’t exactly looked like a rookie fullback for most of the preseason. At 6-feet-3, 266 pounds, Hedgecock cuts an imposing figure and has not been afraid to stick his nose in the blocking schemes.
    It’s Hedgecock’s desire to stick his nose in his playbook, though, that has helped him establish a presence on the St. Louis roster.
    “Madison has really stepped up and done a nice job,” Martz said. “In what we do (at) that fullback position is really a tight end or be on the line of scrimmage or we flex him. We do so many things over there that for a rookie to come in and absorb that is pretty difficult to do. He struggled a bit for awhile. I think he really has a better understanding of what we are trying to do right now.”
    Hedgecock had a slight advantage coming in because of the system he was in at North Carolina. The seventh-round choice said the offense for the Tar Heels did many of the same things the fullback does in the Rams’ offense.
    “My college offense the fullback was similar to here,” Hedgecock said. “They do a lot of moving and shifting and changing assignments. I guess other offenses might be different. There are a lot of similarities to here.”
    Since Hedgecock’s arrival in St. Louis, he has been in competition with incumbent Joey Goodspeed for a fullback job. But both have performed well enough to land on the roster and seem...
    -09-02-2005, 03:17 PM
  • Nick
    Rams Inside Slant
    by Nick
    Inside Slant

    He might have been briefly in coach Mike Martz's doghouse before training camp started, but running back Steven Jackson has done everything in his power to win back the coach's good graces in training camp.

    Martz had said Jackson was out of shape, didn't know the offense and wasn't in attendance at a precamp the team had before leaving for training camp. Jackson was unsigned at the time, but quickly signed a five-year contract and got to work.

    He would routinely stay after practice getting pointers from running back Marshall Faulk, and was showing all the attributes the Rams believed he had when they traded up to pick him in the first round of April's draft.

    In a scrimmage against the Bears Aug. 7, he showed good hands and pass-catching ability on a 22-yard play. Then, in the first exhibition game last Thursday, also against the Bears, Jackson rushed 15 times for 73 yards and added four receptions for 18 yards.

    One reason given for the Cowboys passing on Jackson is that he had arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason. Martz acknowledged his knee is still not 100 percent.

    "His leg, where he had his scope, is not quite as strong as it used to be," Martz said. "You can see that. He favors it a little bit."

    Still, most important, is that he did a solid job picking up blitzes. Martz wasn't upset that the Bears blitzed in such an early game because it gave the offense an opportunity to work against it.

    Said Martz of Jackson, "Offensively, Steven is learning the offense, he's getting better. He still doesn't have the leg strength back yet that he will have eventually. He's still learning our offense, but he did a terrific job in pass blocking, which for a rookie, is a big challenge. He did a great job in recognizing blitzes and getting over. Fortunately, they did blitz us, and that's good for us, because with him back there, he has to get tested before the season starts."

    Asked about Jackson's prior experience in that phase of the game, Martz said, "He was tuned in and that's what's impressive about him. I was very impressed with that. That's very important. I'm pleased with him in his progress. I really am. He still has a long way to go. He's very talented. He's a little bit of a misguided missile right now. The hardest thing about a running back is, he's still not familiar with the angles we are trying to block and the anticipation, and setting guys up. He doesn't know this running game like he will. There's a lot to be said for that. It's just like a quarterback coming in and not knowing where the receivers are. You can kind of guess, but it affects you a little bit."

    CAMP CALENDAR: Camp opened at Macomb, Ill., July 27, with the first practice the following day. The Chicago Bears traveled to Macomb for an afternoon practice Aug. 5, two practices...
    -08-16-2004, 10:47 PM
  • RamWraith
    Bulkier Harris hopes to climb charts
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/01/2004
    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...
    -08-02-2004, 08:12 AM
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