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Another Young Gun: Rookie Chillar is poised to start at linebacker

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  • Another Young Gun: Rookie Chillar is poised to start at linebacker

    Another Young Gun: Rookie Chillar is poised to start at linebacker
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Sep. 11 2004

    The Rams have made a habit of starting rookie linebackers: Tommy Polley in
    2001, Robert Thomas in 2002 and Pisa Tinoisamoa in 2003.

    That trend should continue Sunday in the regular-season opener against Arizona.
    Brandon Chillar, the team's fourth-round draft pick in April, is expected to be
    in the lineup.

    Ironically, he's manning the spot Polley held for the past three seasons.

    Chillar started the last three preseason games and graded out well.

    "He just doesn't make mistakes," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "The way he times
    and gets through people and gets to the ball, head in front, outstanding
    tackler, does not make mistakes, gets lined up right, takes on blockers ...
    he's just a refined player for a guy that young."

    When they strap on the helmets for real, though, Chillar anticipates a
    noticeable difference.

    "I expect it to be a lot faster," he said. "I think the guys are going to be a
    lot more hungry. Every yard's going to count. I've tried to prepare myself the
    best I can. Once I get out there, I'll just have to adjust."

    NFL rules kept Chillar, 21, out of the Rams' full-squad minicamp in May because
    his senior class at UCLA hadn't yet graduated.

    So he arrived in Macomb, Ill., on July 27 "a little bit behind the 8-ball,"
    linebackers coach Joe Vitt said.

    Chillar made up for it by diving into the playbook.

    "That was the advice I got from the older guys, to get into your playbook, that
    the fastest way to get off the field is making mental errors," he said. "The
    mental preparation I do, I take that real serious."

    First, Tony Newson supplanted Polley on the No. 1 unit early in camp. A week
    later, Chillar nudged Newson aside and has stayed there since.

    "We knew that he was going to be extremely physical and that he had courage,"
    Vitt said. "What's surprised us is his range and his athleticism. ... He's got
    a good grasp of what we're doing with our regular package.

    "He's got a long way to go, as he knows. But he's easily coached. He takes to
    hard coaching, and he wants to be good."

    Chillar is the first NFL player of Indian descent.

    His father, Ram Chillar, left his native India in November 1974, settling in
    Southern California.

    He soon became an NFL devotee.

    "I didn't know anything about U.S. football," his dad said. "But the first game
    I saw, I liked it, even though I didn't know what they were doing. I liked the
    action, the speed and the excitement."

    At 6 feet 3, Brandon is slightly taller than Thomas and Tinoisamoa, and at 235
    pounds, he's about the same weight. Each of them has one glaring asset: speed.

    "I just try to get to the ball as fast as I can," Chillar said.

    "The quickness and the speed are very evident," Martz said. "He doesn't look
    like a rookie."

    Or does he think like one, apparently.

    Most first-year starters would be brimming with apprehension as their first
    game approached. But Chillar said his nerves have remained steady.

    "What takes away the butterflies for me is just knowing that I'm trying to
    prepare the best I can," he said. "I try to do everything I can to prepare
    myself to play well in the game. After that, all you can do is go out there and

    Chillar was seen this past week lugging veterans' pads from the practice field
    to the locker room, a typical rookie task.

    But shouldn't a rookie starter get a break?

    "That doesn't mean anything; if you're a rookie, you're a rookie," Chillar
    said, laughing. "And I'm definitely still a rookie. I'm just paying my dues."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Rookie LB Chillar makes bid for starting role
    by RamWraith
    Associated Press
    Tuesday, Aug. 31 2004

    Brandon Chillar is proof that you can take the Rams out of California, but you
    can't take the Golden State out of the defending NFC West champs.

    As a rookie, Chillar has shined in St. Louis' preseason, rising to the top
    of the depth chart at outside linebacker with prospects that he'll be a bookend
    of a starting, California-born linebacking corps of friends and former foes.

    The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Chillar, who'll get his second straight start of the
    preseason Thursday at Oakland, played two seasons of college ball at UCLA with
    2002 first-round pick Robert Thomas, the Rams' middle linebacker.

    And his time with starting outside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa -- the Rams'
    second-round pick last year out of Hawaii -- dates to their high school days
    just miles apart in San Diego County, Calif., where Chillar played linebacker
    and Tinoisamoa ran the ball.

    Though Chillar smiled when he said he never had to take down Tinoisamoa, by
    many accounts there hasn't been much Chillar hasn't tackled since arriving with
    the Rams.

    "The thing that's very noticeable about him is his ability to pick up what
    we do defensively and not have hesitation you normally would have of a rookie
    linebacker," Rams coach Mike Martz said.

    Beyond that, Martz said "the quickness and the speed is very evident" from
    the rookie who in high school raced the 100 and 200 meters in track.

    In a 28-3 preseason victory Friday over Washington, Chillar had two solo
    tackles -- to Martz, "outstanding tackles in that game, sure tackles" as a
    starting strong-side linebacker.

    "He didn't look like a rookie," Martz said of Chillar, bidding to supplant
    Tommy Polley as a starter when the Rams open the regular season Sept. 12 at
    home against Arizona. "He's really playing well."

    The Rams expected big things out of Chillar when they drafted in April in
    the fourth round. At UCLA, he took part in 255 tackles and recovered five
    fumbles, intercepted three passes, had 12 sacks and blocked two kicks in 49
    games, including 35 starts. His 133 tackles as a senior were the most for a
    UCLA defender since 1989.

    In the East-West Shrine game in January, Chillar returned an interception 56
    yards for a score in the West's 28-7 victory, earning him the nod as the game's
    outstanding defensive player.

    Come draft time, Rams linebacker coach Joe Vitt liked Chillar so much he
    wanted the team to take him the first day of the draft, pressing that "every
    game he played in there are stretches where he's dominated."

    "This is a guy that from...
    -08-31-2004, 03:09 PM
  • RamWraith
    Chillar is happy to put up big numbers quietly
    by RamWraith
    Rams Notes:
    By Bill Coats
    Saturday, Aug. 04 2007

    A corner of his father's 7-Eleven store in Carlsbad, Calif., is a shrine of
    sorts to Brandon Chillar. Photos and displays feature the Rams' third-year
    linebacker out of UCLA.

    Ever the wise businessman, Ram Chillar (yes, that's his given first name) also
    is happy to sell you a No. 54 jersey or other Rams memorabilia.

    And that's about as celebrated as Brandon Chillar cares to be. He prefers to
    yield center stage to others. "I just want to go out there and do my job," said
    Chillar, 24. "I don't need the limelight, but I'd like to be respected."

    That's not a problem at Rams Park, where Chillar, the team's third-round draft
    choice in 2004, receives high marks from the coaches and his teammates. Last
    year in his first full season as a starter, Chillar amassed 77 tackles —
    fourth-highest total on the team — and two sacks even though he usually exited
    for an extra defensive back on passing downs.

    Chillar plays on the strong side — called the SAM — where the tight end lines
    up. "It's kind of a quiet position," Chillar said. "But if I have a breakdown,
    it's going to be a big play."

    Will Witherspoon mans the middle, with Pisa Tinoisamoa on the weak side.

    Leaving the field during a drive is "a little bit" frustrating, Chillar
    acknowledged. "You want to be on the field for every play, but when you have
    guys like Will and Pisa that are taking care of business, it's OK."

    Coach Scott Linehan called Chillar "assignment-perfect. He's very reliable ...
    and very underrated." Linehan noted that Chillar has improved his coverage
    skills and enhanced his versatility.

    "He's doing some things for us on third down, playing some other positions,"
    Linehan said. "What he's shown is that he's not just a SAM; he's versatile,
    like Will and Pisa."

    The Rams have added personnel to the defense, including free-agent linebacker
    Chris Draft. But Chillar said there's another reason he believes the defense is
    on the upswing after finishing 23rd in the 32-team league in 2006.

    Noting that coordinator Jim Haslett's scheme is "pretty complicated," Chillar
    added: "The first year in a system, you're running around and trying to learn
    everything. Now we know everything and we're trying to get better at the little
    things. ...

    "Obviously the first year, you're going to have some ups and downs. But
    everybody's got a good hold of it now."


    Four NFL officials, headed by referee Walt Anderson,...
    -08-04-2007, 06:12 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams' Chillar set to battle Gates, Gonzalez
    by RamWraith
    Associated Press

    ST. LOUIS - As the strong-side linebacker, the St. Louis Rams' Brandon Chillar will go against two of the best tight ends in the NFL in the next two weeks.

    Chillar, a fourth-round draft pick in 2004 starting for the first time this season, will face the Chargers' Antonio Gates Sunday at San Diego. The following week, Gates draws Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez in St. Louis.

    The 6-foot-3, 242-pound Chillar said he looks forward to the test. So far this season, he has 19 tackles, three quarterback pressures and one pass defended for the 4-2 Rams.

    He also got his first career sack in a 30-28 loss to Seattle on Oct. 15. The Rams had a bye last week.

    "I try to improve my game each week in practice and in the games," Chillar said. "Being a full starter gives me a chance to develop."

    His biggest challenge lies ahead.

    Gates is a two-time Pro Bowl player who last year led all tight ends in receptions (89), receiving yards (1,100) and touchdown catches (10). This season, Gates has 27 catches for 318 yards and four touchdowns.

    How do you handle a player like that?

    "You just prepare," Chillar said. "You watch film and see whatever tips you can. He's not afraid to go up and get the ball and make plays."

    After that, Gonzalez brings to St. Louis his 10-year reputation as one the league's premier tight ends. A seven-time Pro Bowl player, Gonzalez has averaged 77 catches, 930 yards and almost seven touchdowns a season in his career.

    "I'll definitely see where I'm at after going against those two guys," Chillar said.

    Rams coach Scott Linehan said the defense will be kept busy by Gates.

    "I don't want to make light of the subject, but its a pretty hard matchup," Linehan said. "Basically, he's got all the physical characteristics you look for in a tight end, but the thing about this guy is they flex him out at wide receiver and he's as good as receivers in this league at that size, so he's really a double threat.

    "We're spending a lot of time trying to figure out ways to stop the guy, we really are," Linehan said.

    Chillar, from Calsbad, Calif., grew up a Chargers fan.

    "It's always good to play in front of my family but I'm trying to prepare as if it's another game," Chillar said. "I don't want to get too hyped up. You know, every other week but this one, I want the Chargers to do well."

    NOTES: WR Torry Holt attended Game 3 of the World Series. On Friday, with the Cardinals a game away from winning the championship, he offered this piece of advice: "Finish. The biggest thing I would tell them is to finish. Go into the game with mind-set that you went into the beginning of the playoffs. Don't relax." ......
    -10-28-2006, 04:55 AM
  • RamsInfiniti
    So, Chillar wasn't a big loss huh?
    by RamsInfiniti
    I have read many on this board downplay the loss of Brandon Chillar, and some indicating he is not even starting in Green Bay. My girlfriend and her family are big time Packer's fans, so I watched the game last night, and let me tell you, Chillar will be the starter now ...

    He was all over the field, playing with more energy than any of our linebackers. He racked up 9 tackles last night, including several that prevented huge gains. He pushed through blockers and forced a fumble. Add this to FOUR special teams tackles in the first two games, and what do you have?


    Chillar is more athletic and crafty than Culberson, who has done nothing to impress me. I just don't get it. It wouldn't have cost too much to sign this guy, and we let him go. A young, growing player working into his prime, and we let him go, for an unproven commodity like Culberson ...

    Tell me now? How does this Linebacker corp look?

    Witherspoon, Pisa, Chillar, Culberson, Draft ...

    Yea, I thought so .....
    -09-22-2008, 10:23 AM
  • RamWraith
    Free agency looms for Chillar
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats

    The timing couldn’t be better for Rams linebacker Brandon Chillar. He’s having his best season in the NFL just as he’s reaching eligibility as an unrestricted free agent.

    And that translates into a fat contract. Chillar would prefer to work out a deal with the Rams, but he also realizes that he might have to seek his fortune with another team.

    “I’d love to come back to St. Louis,” said Chillar, who last year signed a one-year tender for $850,000 as a restricted free agent. “I love the organization, I love the players on defense, and the coaches.”

    The Rams feel the same way about Chillar, according to coach Scott Linehan. “I’d love to have Brandon back,” he said. Negotiations with any potential free agents will have to wait, though.

    “I don’t think now’s the time, based on what we’re trying to get done; we have three games to play,” Linehan said. “We have two games in 10 days to prepare for. Our focus is on that, but it will become a major focus when the season is over.”

    A fourth-round draft pick (No. 130 overall) out of UCLA in 2004, the 6-foot-3, 242-pound Chillar is in his second full season as a starter. Manning the strong-side spot, he’s fifth on the team in tackles with 76. At that pace, he would finish with 93; he had 77 last year, 61 in 2005 and 31 in his rookie season.

    Chillar, 25, also has 11⁄2 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

    “I feel good personally” about the season, Chillar said. “Obviously, I wish we could’ve won some more games, but I feel like I’ve made a lot of strides. I feel like I’m a good linebacker in this league.”

    He has managed to keep his mind off his future windfall, he stressed.

    “You just have to stay mentally focused on the season and not worry about the contract. I think I’ve done a good job of that all year,” Chillar said. “Like I said at the beginning of the season, if I just go out there and do my job, and do it well, the contract will take care of itself, whether it’s here or somewhere else.”
    -12-14-2007, 06:25 AM