No announcement yet.

Rookie tight end may realize impossible dream

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Rookie tight end may realize impossible dream

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Sep. 02 2004

    First, veteran tight end Cam Cleeland pulled a hamstring in the early days of
    training camp. Rookie Erik Jensen, drafted in the seventh round as a tight end,
    was moved to fullback.

    Just like that, Mike Brake was getting an increasing number of reps and
    building momentum in what at first appeared to be a highly improbable quest to
    land a spot on the Rams' roster. The team is expected to keep three tight ends:
    Brandon Manumaleuna and Cleeland are locks, and at this point, Brake is the
    only other tight end still around.

    "It's been crazy," said Brake, an undrafted rookie from the University of
    Akron. "I got some opportunities to play, and I think I made the most of them.
    This last game, I should get quite a few reps, and I'll just try to prove
    myself once again."

    The Rams (1-2) wrap up their preseason schedule at 9 tonight (St. Louis time)
    against the Raiders (2-1) in Oakland. The regular season gets under way Sept.
    12 at the Edward Jones Dome, with NFC West foe Arizona providing the

    Brake, a linebacker at Hilliard (Ohio) High, had no major-college offers. He
    chose Akron because it was the "first one to offer me (a scholarship), I liked
    the coaches, I liked the school, I liked the guys on the team. . . . We never
    went to a bowl game; 7-5 was our best record. But I wouldn't take that back at

    Brake, 24, started only 15 games for the Zips, although he appeared in 45. He
    totaled 49 catches for 736 yards and 11 touchdowns. He didn't expect to be
    drafted, but he believed he had NFL-caliber skills.

    "I knew if I got the chance, I could do it," said Brake, 6 feet 4 and 256
    pounds. "I knew I could compete at this level. So I'm not really surprised."

    Coach Mike Martz said Brake "has done a much better job than we anticipated.
    He's really picked things up well. . . . He's a better receiver than I would've
    given him credit for when he first got here. He's got excellent hands. The
    physical part of it obviously is so much more than what he was used to at
    Akron, and he's learning that part of it. But he'll be fine."

    Martz wants Jackson to get a lot of work

    Rams rookie Steven Jackson is the NFL's top rusher in the preseason heading
    into tonight's games. He has 251 yards in three games. The New York Giants' Ron
    Dayne is next, with 228 yards. However, Dayne is averaging 7.4 yards per carry
    to 4.6 for Jackson, the team's first-round draft pick.

    On Friday night, Jackson ran for 125 yards - also a league high - in a 28-3
    victory over Washington. He was given 25 carries, an unusually high workload
    for a preseason game. Martz said it was done with a purpose.

    "You've got a guy trying to get used to having to carry the load when (he's)
    exhausted. And you could see he made one or two mental errors when he got
    really tired," Martz explained. "But it was a terrific learning experience for

    Rams leave town without Pace

    The Rams boarded their charter flight for Oakland on Wednesday evening without
    a No. 76 jersey in the equipment bag. Holdout left tackle Orlando Pace still
    has not reported.

    "This is our football team right now. I just would assume he's not coming in,
    period," Martz said. "We love him, we wish he was here. And when he does come
    in - if he does come in - then you move on. But you can't let one player, no
    matter how good he is or how good a guy he is, hold the rest of the team
    hostage, waiting on him to come in. We've got to get ready for Sept. 12."

  • #2
    Re: Rookie tight end may realize impossible dream

    Originally posted by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Sep. 02 2004

    Talking about Brake, a linebacker at Hilliard (Ohio) High, Coach Mike Martz said Brake "... (will) be fine."
    You can't tell me connections don't help. Or is it just coincidence that Furrey also started out in Hilliard? Which leads me to wonder why Bullard didn't make the roster last year and Pagac didn't this year? Clearly the team is looking for impact players at LB.


    Related Topics


    • RamWraith
      Rams release tackle, cut down to 65
      by RamWraith
      By Bill Coats
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      Tuesday, Aug. 31 2004

      The Rams reached the 65-player limit Tuesday by releasing offensive tackle
      Jeremy Phillips. The 53-man final roster must be determined by 3 p.m. Sunday.

      The team negotiated an injury settlement with Phillips before waiving him.
      Phillips, an undrafted rookie from Lenoir-Rhyne, had been sidelined for about
      three weeks with a neck injury.

      Rams rookie leads NFL in rushing

      Rams rookie Steven Jackson is the NFL's top rusher in the preseason, with 251
      yards in three games. The New York Giants' Ron Dayne is next, with 228 yards.
      However, Dayne is averaging 7.4 yards a carry to 4.6 for Jackson, the team's
      first-round draft pick.

      On Friday night, Jackson ran for 125 yards, which is also a league high, in a
      28-3 victory over Washington. He was given 25 carries, an unusually high
      workload for a preseason game. Coach Mike Martz said it was done with a

      "You've got a guy trying to get used to having to carry the load when (he's)
      exhausted. And you could see he made one or two mental errors when he got
      really tired," Martz explained. "But it was a terrific learning experience for
      him. That's when you have to really reach down and find something that you
      didn't know was there."
      -09-01-2004, 04:41 AM
    • Nick
      Manumaleuna impresses Martz
      by Nick
      Manumaleuna impresses Martz
      By Bill Coats
      Of the Post-Dispatch

      MACOMB, Ill. - When Mike Martz said that tight end Brandon Manumaleuna has "been consistently excellent throughout practice and our preseason game; he's not had any lapses," the Rams head coach apparently had a lapse of his own.

      On the 11th play of the Rams' first series vs. Chicago on Thursday, blitzing Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer charged by Manumaleuna and sacked quarterback Marc Bulger. The 9-yard loss stalled the drive at the Chicago 15-yard line, and Jeff Wilkins booted a 33-yard field goal. The Bears won 13-10 in overtime at the Edward Jones Dome.

      So, Manumaleuna hasn't been perfect since camp opened July 27 at Western Illinois University. But he's been good enough that Martz probably can be forgiven for his episode of selective memory.

      "Brandon's come light years," Martz said. "He's done just a great job. He finally, at this point, I think, is ready to take off."

      The Rams certainly hope so, considering that in the offseason, they put up $8.3 million over five years to prevent him from going to Carolina as a restricted free agent. Manumaleuna, 24, said he appreciated the Panthers' interest. "It was good to know that you were wanted somewhere," he said.

      But he was glad that the Rams kept him. "I was comfortable with everybody here, I like everybody on the team, and the organization's fine," he said. "I looked at it as, I couldn't lose either way."

      After making only nine catches in his first two years since the Rams selected him in the fourth round of the 2001 draft, Manumaleuna came up with 29 catches for 238 yards last season, his first as the team's No. 1 tight end. He expects even more this year.

      "I would like to have better numbers after this year, so I do have some bigger goals. We'll see what happens," he said. The first step in that direction was the shedding of 13 pounds in the offseason, dropping him to 275 on his 6-foot-2 frame.

      "He felt that I'd be a better receiver, and he also wanted to get me more involved with the offense," Manumaleuna said. "So, he asked me if I'd come in a lot lighter. I did that, and ... everything's going well."

      Bulger's arm is fine

      Quarterback Marc Bulger reported that his right (throwing) arm was "a little sorer than it was" Monday, after he suffered what was termed a mild bruise. Bulger was bumped by tackle Greg Randall, who had been pushed back by defensive end Leonard Little.

      Bulger, who felt a jolt of pain to his upper arm, said he was scared "for about two seconds. But you know pretty quick if you're hurt or not, and I realized I wasn't."
      -08-18-2004, 12:26 AM
    • 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

      With the rival ***** providing the opposition Sunday, the anticipation is amped
      up even more. "San Francisco's always special,"...
      -09-06-2005, 04:17 AM
    • RamDez
      Rams Head Home
      by RamDez
      Rams Head Home
      Friday, August 20, 2004

      By Nick Wagoner
      Staff Writer

      With the quickness of a Marshall Faulk cutback, coach Mike Martz ended the Rams’ 2004 training camp about 5:15 Thursday evening. Martz cited a major storm brewing in the Macomb area as the reason for the abrupt end.
      “I told them to get out of here tonight,” Martz said. “I don’t want them driving home in the rain in the morning. We wouldn’t get anything out of a morning practice here, anyway.”

      The players and coaching staff will leave for St. Louis on Thursday night and probably have a practice Friday afternoon at Rams Park. The end of camp signals the next step in the drive toward the regular season. St. Louis will play cross-state rival Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night.

      The regular season kicks off Sept. 12 against Arizona at the Edward Jones Dome. Martz said he is more than satisfied with the work the team put in at camp. “We had a heck of a camp up here,” Martz said. “The injury list is minimal compared to what it’s been in past years. I’m pleased with where we are.”

      WOHLABAUGH GONE: It was a disappointing ending for center Dave Wohlabaugh, who spent 2003 starting in the middle of the Rams’ offensive line.

      St. Louis cut ties with its injured center Wednesday night. Wohlabaugh had surgery on his hip in March and was not expected back for at least three or four months.

      Wohlabaugh had not practiced with the team during this training camp and was likely going to miss the entire season. He recently traveled to Ohio to have the hip check out again, but the results were not positive that Wohlabaugh would play again this year or any other.

      With his tenure in St. Louis ending, so too, might his career. Wohlabaugh signed with the Rams on Feb. 28, 2003. Wohlabaugh was entering his 10th season in the league. Andy McCollum, who started at left guard for the Rams last season, moved back to center at the beginning of camp.

      McCollum said he feels comfortable playing his original position again, but he is sorry to see his friend and linemate struggle with injuries. “It’s just unfortunate, the injury that Dave had,” McCollum said. “He’s only been here a year, but I consider him a friend of mine.”

      TIGHT COMPETITION: Brandon Manumaleuna seems to be the only tight end that has wrapped up his position, though a return from hamstring problems by Cameron Cleeland could bring the competition into focus. Manumaleuna looks like he is in better shape, showing better burst off the ball and making some difficult catches in traffic.

      Martz said Manumaleuna’s offseason efforts are paying off handsomely. “Brandon has come a long way,” Martz said. “First of all, he has lost a lot of weight. He’s done a terrific job, in terms of being a receiver and a significant blocker. The thing about him is that he has been consistently excellent,...
      -08-20-2004, 11:19 PM
    • RamDez
      Martz pleased with Rams' running attack
      by RamDez
      Martz pleased with Rams' running attack
      Admits he lost track of score against Raiders

      [email protected]

      ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz was pleased with what his team accomplished in the preseason -- especially in showing that it could effectively run the ball -- despite winning only one of their four games.

      The Rams rushed for 480 yards -- an average of 120 yards per game -- in their four preseason contests.

      The Rams gained 171 yards on the ground in their 28-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.

      "I feel good with where we are, I really do," Martz said. "The area where we wanted to get better was running the football, and we made a big emphasis on that the last few games.

      "Regardless of who was in the game, we wanted to run the football."

      The Rams were 30th among the NFL's 32 teams in rushing offense last season. They averaged only 93.5 rushing yards per game and only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt.

      "Running the football well was a big deal to me in the off-season," Martz said. "We were not an effective team running the football. We give a lot of attention to our passing game, but we've always been able to run the ball very effectively, and last year we didn't do that.

      "We have to get back to doing some of the things that are basic to this offense."

      Running back Marshall Faulk had only four carries for 11 yards against the Raiders. He also had two receptions for 20 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown reception.

      Martz said he has seen enough of Faulk in his limited play in the preseason to feel he's close to being his old self after a series of knee problems.

      "I was really impressed with Marshall last night," Martz said. "He's got his juice, boy. When he was in there, they were coming after us with safeties and linebackers, they didn't want him to get going.

      "He was very physical running up in there. He made some big plays -- both of those passes, the check-down on third down, and of course, the touchdown -- he looks terrific to me."

      Rookie Steven Jackson rushed for 72 yards on 12 carries, while Lamar Gordon rushed for 77 yards on 22 carries in his first action of the preseason.

      Gordon underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his ankle last month.

      "That's the first time that he has been hit or put the pads on for four weeks," Martz said. "To go and take the ball up in there like he did ... he took some horrendous hits there out on the edge and spun and jumped and twisted and turned and stayed in the game.

      "I was very impressed with his toughness and the burst he had and the acceleration he showed."

      Martz admitted that he mistakenly thought...
      -09-05-2004, 04:57 AM