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  • Coady, Conwell will cross paths

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Sep. 23 2004

    Former teammates on
    opposing missions now

    If Rich Coady and Ernie Conwell have a reunion Sunday, it won't exactly be a
    tea-and-cookies affair.

    With Aeneas Williams moving to cornerback, Coady is expected to start at free
    safety for the Rams against New Orleans. Conwell, who played in St. Louis from
    1996 through 2002 and had a locker near Coady's, is the Saints' starting tight
    end.

    So Coady and Conwell could meet again, this time on the Edward Jones Dome turf.
    "Playing against (Conwell) every day in practice for three or four years, it'd
    be nice to go live against him," Coady said.

    Conwell represents only a small part of Coady's concerns, though. The Saints'
    top running back, Deuce McAllister, is sidelined with a high-ankle sprain,
    meaning that coach Jim Haslett will have to rely on journeymen Aaron Stecker
    and Ki-Jana Carter for any semblance of a ground game.

    So logic indicates that New Orleans quarterback Aaron Brooks will have the ball
    in the air much of the afternoon. "We expect to have a busy day," Coady said.
    "You like that, though, when the action's around you and when you're around the
    ball. It'll be fun for us to go out there and do the best we can and try to
    shut that down."

    The Saints (1-1) hardly have been on offensive juggernaut: They're averaging
    291.5 yards (22nd in the 32-team NFL) and 18.5 points (17th) per game. Yet
    Brooks' 502 passing yards are exceeded by only eight quarterbacks.

    Wide receivers Joe Horn (14 catches, 204 yards) and Donte' Stallworth (12, 149)
    are his favorite targets. Conwell has three catches for 32 yards.

    The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Coady said Brooks is especially effective when he
    throws "over the middle and deep outside. He's got a real live arm, quick
    release, throws the ball well. And he's got two great receivers to throw to, so
    that makes it easy."

    Coady, 28, was the Rams' third-round pick (No. 68 overall) in the 1999 draft
    out of Texas A&M. He has started 11 games in six seasons, but most of his work
    this year has been as an extra back in passing situations.

    "Instead of playing 30 plays, I'll play 60. So it won't be that big of a
    difference for me," Coady said. "You prepare to start every week, and I've been
    here long enough that I'll know what I'm doing every play. It's not one of
    those things where I've got to go in there and learn a bunch of new
    terminology. It should be pretty simple and pretty basic."

    Chillar rests foot

    First-team linebacker Brandon Chillar sat out team drills Thursday, a day after
    a teammate stepped on his foot at practice. X-rays showed no broken bones, and
    the injury was diagnosed as a bruise. Chillar, a rookie from UCLA, was listed
    on Thursday's injury report as "probable" for Sunday's game.He has recorded a
    total of 11 tackles in two regular-season games.

    Back to pads

    The Rams practiced in shells last week, a move that coach Mike Martz
    acknowledged "hurt" the team in Sunday's 34-17 loss at the Georgia Dome.
    "That's a coaching error on my part," said Martz, who had his team back in full
    pads Wednesday.

    Martz said he decided to take it easy last week because "we were a little
    banged up. We were down to just a few linebackers, and we just couldn't afford
    to lose one in those drills. That was the whole rationale behind it."

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  • RamWraith
    Conwell's back - as a Saint
    by RamWraith
    By Lori Shontz
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Ernie Conwell was born in Reston, Wash., and he stayed at home for his college years at the University of Washington. Since 2002, he has played tight end for the New Orleans Saints.

    But when people ask Conwell and his wife, Andrea, where they're from, they often fail to mention either of those places.

    "My wife and I, we still have a tendency to say we're from St. Louis," said Conwell, who played in St. Louis for seven years after the Rams chose him in the second round of the 1996 NFL draft. "That's where we really grew into adulthood as a married couple. Where our kids grew up."

    So when Conwell returns to the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday for the first time as an opposing player, he expects to feel a twinge or two.

    "I'm sure it's going to be a weird feeling to be on the opposite sideline," he said. "And it'll be a different experience. But I think all that'll happen in pre-game, the warm-ups, and then just like anything else, when the game starts we're playing football and it'll kind of just subside, I'm sure."

    The Saints, as usual, are looked upon as a team with plenty of talent, particularly offensively, with running back Deuce McAllister (who was injured a week ago against the *****), quarterback Aaron Brooks and wide receivers Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth. Somehow, however, that talent rarely turns into results.

    "The key right now is we don't want to talk about talent, ability, potential," Conwell said. "They're almost like four-letter words in this business. We just know that we have to take care of business every week and that we're only as good as we are on game day.

    "I think we're just maturing in that we realize that we're going to have to prepare like champions, we're going to have to practice like champions, and then go out and play hard and winning will take care of itself. I think we're starting to learn that as a team."

    That said, the Saints started the season with a loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and although they beat San Francisco a week ago, they played sloppily at times. They also lost McAllister with a high-ankle sprain. He will be out for four or five weeks, leaving the running back duties to Aaron Stecker and Ki-Jana Carter.

    "We'll package them up based on what they do best," Saints coach Jim Haslett said in his Monday news conference. "I think both of them have good qualities; both of them are good running backs.

    "I think Aaron showed (Sunday against San Francisco) that he has good, pretty good running skills, he's tough. You can see why Ki-Jana Carter was the No. 1 pick in the draft - he's got great vision. He's lost a little bit of speed, but he's a good player."

    By necessity, Haslett said, the Saints will...
    -09-26-2004, 04:48 AM
  • RamWraith
    Saints carry confidence into meeting with Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    09/25/2004
    Something is strangely amiss. A Saints-Rams game week has come and gone without New Orleans wide receiver Joe "Hollywood" Horn saying anything inflammatory before kickoff.

    Horn has leveled many a zinger at the Rams in the past. But he did nothing but make nice this past week in New Orleans.

    When asked by New Orleans reporters if this was still a big rivalry game for the Saints, he replied: "No. You want to know why? They've got a Super Bowl ring. They've been to multiple Super Bowls. ... I can't say nothing negative about them and try to spark a rivalry."

    Huh?

    And there's more.

    "Coach (Mike) Martz has done a hell of a job," Horn said.

    Take that!

    What about former Saints tight end Cam Cleeland, now with the Rams, and his anti-Saints and anti-Jim Haslett remarks on Wednesday from Rams Park?

    "That's just Cam getting off some frustrations that he felt," Horn said. "He and Kyle (Turley) had some issues that they didn't like (with the organization). But they're very good friends of mine, and I love them to death."

    In your face!

    In a conference call with St. Louis reporters, Haslett, the New Orleans coach, made it sound like he and Martz were bosom buddies. Strange, since in 2000 and 2001 - when the Saints and Rams played each other five times over a 12 1/2- month period - they looked very much like mortal enemies.

    So perhaps this is some sort of a setup. Now a couple of years older and wiser, maybe Horn and Haslett are trying to kill the Rams with kindness.

    Make no mistake, the Saints aren't going to be the least bit intimidated by the Rams' 15-game regular-season winning streak at the Edward Jones Dome. New Orleans has won its last two contests here, including one of only two regular-season losses by the NFC-champion Rams in 2001.

    No Deuce McAllister (ankle) at running back? No problem. The Saints won here in 2000 with Jerald Moore and Chad Morton as their feature backs.

    Besides, the Rams have more on their minds these days than whether the Saints remain a rival. They left the Georgia Dome on the short end of a 34-17 score to Atlanta last Sunday, bewildered by the scrambling sorties of Michael Vick and befuddled by a Falcons front four that played like the Fearsome Foursome.

    Motivation?

    "We don't need to look any further than the fact that we need a win," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "Coming off a loss you need a win even more. It's just the way it feels. So we want to get back in the winner's column, get that good feeling again, and build off of it."

    It's as simple as that. The last thing the Rams want to do is stub their toe at home against...
    -09-26-2004, 04:47 AM
  • RamWraith
    Versatile Coady proves valuable for defense
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    10/07/2004


    Two decades ago, the Cardinals had a "secret weapon" in Jose Oquendo, so dubbed by broadcaster Mike Shannon for his ability to fill in effectively at several positions. Now the Rams have their own version.

    Utilityman Rich Coady will make his third start in a row Sunday when the Rams (2-2) travel to Seattle to face the NFC West-leading Seahawks (3-0). For the second week in succession, he'll replace ailing Adam Archuleta (back) at strong safety. Two weeks ago, Coady filled in at free safety for Aeneas Williams, who made a one-week return to cornerback.

    "We're fortunate to have" Coady, coach Mike Martz said. "This is a message to all the other players. It's like Marc Bulger: He's the third quarterback (in 2002), and all of a sudden by midseason he's starting. Those guys, when they weren't playing, they weren't wasting time."

    Coady, a Texas A&M product who had a total of six starts in his five previous NFL seasons, gets most of his playing time with the Rams as an extra defensive back in the nickel and dime alignments. But he said he's learned to gear his readiness for all possibilities.

    "Every week I go in and I prepare like I'm going to start. I go through the film like I'm going to start," he explained. "So whether the coach tells me that I'm going to start on Monday for the following Sunday's game or five minutes before the game, it's not going to change how I prepare."

    Whatever system he uses, it seems to work: Coady was named the Rams' defensive player of the week after collecting 10 tackles, two pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a quarterback hit in Sunday's 24-14 victory in San Francisco.

    "I think everyone on defense played well. And when you get all 11 guys playing well, it makes it easier," Coady said. "A lot of the stuff that I did well was a direct result of everyone else being in their gap and doing what they were supposed to do."

    The task looming for the Rams this week should be considerably stiffer. Whereas the winless ***** are near the bottom of the league in several statistical categories, Seattle is hovering near the top, particularly on defense. The Seahawks are No. 1 in total defense (242.3 yards a game) and scoring defense (4.3 points). Plus, they're rested after a bye week.

    "When you watch them on film, they really play mistake-free football," Coady said. "They don't turn the ball over, they don't have assignment gaps, they're not giving up free sacks, they're not running the wrong routes. ... You don't go 3-0 in this league unless you're doing something right, and they're doing everything right."

    Groce is ready

    With the Rams short of defensive backs Sunday, the temptation to rush cornerback DeJuan Groce...
    -10-08-2004, 07:05 PM
  • RamWraith
    Rams get healthy at linebacker
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    10/08/2004


    Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who was back at practice Friday, emphasized that it would take a lot more than an elbow infection to sideline him for Sunday's key NFC West contest at Seattle.

    "It wasn't going to stop me from playing this weekend," he said. "It's too big of a game."

    Coach Mike Martz indicated Thursday that Tinoisamoa would be hospitalized overnight for treatment, but that wasn't necessary.

    "They just gave him some IVs here" at Rams Park, Martz said, "and he came in this morning and was really much, much, much better. So, there's not a problem. We're relieved, of course."

    Fellow linebacker Robert Thomas, who's been nursing a sore ankle, also returned to the field Friday and will start Sunday.


    Groce finally healthy:


    After recovering from a matching set of sprained knees - he injured his left in training camp and his right three weeks ago vs. Atlanta - cornerback DeJuan Groce finally is healthy again.

    "I feel a lot better," Groce said. "I've been pushing it more this week. I'm getting my confidence back and I'm able to not think about (the injuries) and just play."

    Martz saw enough progress that he returned Groce to the No. 1 spot at right corner, where he started the first two games of the season. Kevin Garrett started alongside left corner Jerametrius Butler last Sunday in San Francisco.


    "Homecoming" for Cleeland:


    Increasingly, retirement was looking like an attractive option for Rams tight end Cam Cleeland during the offseason. The custom home design and construction business that he'd started with his brother-in-law in the Seattle area was taking off, plus nobody was dangling the multi-year contract that Cleeland sought.

    "I definitely thought about retiring," said Cleeland, 29. "I've always been good at building and design. We've done four or five houses now, and just finished my own personal house. It's a lot of fun. . . .

    "But as long as football is working out and I get the opportunity, I'll take advantage of it."

    The Rams' trip to the Pacific Northwest for Sunday's game against the Seahawks is a welcome journey for Cleeland, who holds a sociology degree from the University of Washington and lives in Mount Vernon, about an hour's drive north of Seattle. "I'll have a bunch of family and friends there," he said. "It'll be a little homecoming."

    Cleeland decided in March to accept the Rams' one-year offer. "You want to do something you love to do and come into work every day and like to do it," he said. "Our careers are short. You just hope to enjoy it."

    He said that...
    -10-08-2004, 07:04 PM
  • Nick
    Always in pain, Conwell plays on
    by Nick
    Always in pain, Conwell plays on

    NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Saints tight end Ernie Conwell has had surgery 13 times in his eight-year NFL career, and even that stat doesn't tell the whole story.

    "I've separated my right shoulder twice, but didn't have surgery on it," Conwell chuckled. "I've had a number of concussions. I've been knocked out in a game, I think that was 1998 against the Jets. And I've broken my ribs a few times."

    The latest injury was a fractured ankle last November which put him on injured reserve for the second time in his career. It was a bad injury, but not the worst he's had.

    "No, no, no," Conwell said. "The worst was in '98 when I dislocated my left knee. I had to have four knee operations on that knee to get back."

    The injury happened on Oct. 25 when Conwell was playing for the St. Louis Rams. Conwell returned in time to play in three regular season games and three playoff games in 1999.

    "I love playing this game, and part of playing it is being able to overcome setbacks," Conwell said. "Overcoming setbacks weekly when you're playing in a game and have something happen -- penalty, turnover, mistake made. You have to deal with that and overcome it. And the same thing is true when you have an injury."

    And then there is the example Conwell wants to set for his four children.

    "I want my kids to see that Dad had some things happen to him, but look at how he responded to them," Conwell said. "I want my kids to see that when something happened I just dug down and kept working."

    The good news for the Saints is that Conwell is healthy again.

    Before he was injured last season, Conwell was on pace to have his most productive receiving year. He finished with 26 receptions for 290 yards, an average of 11.2 yards a catch, and two touchdowns.

    When Conwell went down, Boo Williams stepped up, making 41 catches for 436 yards (10.6 yards per catch) and five touchdowns.

    "Ernie has taught me a lot," Williams said. "We have some big goals for the tight end position this year. With the two of us, it's going to be a big part of the offense."

    Conwell agrees. He and Williams are co-starters in the double tight end formations and will mix it up in single tight end formations, he said.

    "Boo and I sit around and talk about it all the time," Conwell said. You've got two solid players at that position and you can take advantage of what each guy can bring to the table."

    Last year Williams and Conwell were the third best tight-end tandem in the league, with Conwell missing six games. This year, their goal is to be No. 1.

    "Assuming we can stay healthy," Conwell said.

    Conwell, 34, who is...
    -08-20-2004, 03:40 PM
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