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Rams Insight: Lassiter praises Tillman

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  • Rams Insight: Lassiter praises Tillman

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    In 2000 and 2001, Kwamie Lassiter and Pat Tillman played together with the Arizona Cardinals, Lassiter as the starting free safety, Tillman as the starting strong safety.

    In May 2002, Tillman gave up his NFL career and joined the Army Rangers.

    "That was Pat Tillman," said Lassiter, signed by the Rams last week as a free agent. "If anybody would do that, it would be him. It wasn't a surprise to me at all."

    Tillman, 27, was killed April 22 in Afghanistan.

    "That was a surprise," Lassiter said. "A guy like that, who's going to give everything for you, not only for the team, but for his country, you want to see him come back home. But Pat, if he's going to die, he's going to die hard."

    Lassiter signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie out of Kansas in 1995. Tillman arrived three years later as the team's seventh-round draft pick, No. 226 overall.

    Tillman, an All-Pacific 10 Conference linebacker at Arizona State, impressed with his hard hitting and soon was a mainstay in the lineup.

    "People would say, 'He can't do this, he can't do that,' and he proved them wrong. He overachieved," Lassiter said. "He would get the game plan, focus on it, study it, and then go out there and get the job done. He was that type of guy. The game became second nature to him."

    In 2001, the Rams tried to sign Tillman as a restricted free agent. Tillman decided to return to the Cardinals for less money. A year later, he turned down a three-year, $3.6 million offer from Arizona and enlisted.

    "A lot of guys aren't able to walk away from fame and fortune," Lassiter said, "but Pat was a different guy."

    Lassiter remained with the Cardinals through the 2002 season. Though he'd started every game for four seasons in a row, Lassiter was waived in February 2003.

    "It's a business," Lassiter said. "I found that out a long time ago, when guys like Larry Centers, Lomas Brown and Aeneas Williams left (the Cardinals). Those are guys you want to retire at your place."

    San Diego signed Lassiter, and he started the first 10 games before a torn knee ligament ended his '03 season. The injury didn't require surgery, and Lassiter was with the Chargers throughout the preseason. He was released Sept. 5, apparently because the team wanted to go with younger players.

    "I never really got an answer when I left there, so I couldn't really tell you exactly what it was about," said Lassiter, who has 25 interceptions and 572 tackles during his career.

    Sitting out the 2 1/2 weeks before the Rams called wasn't easy.

    "I wasn't panicked, but ... this is what I like to do," said Lassiter, 34. "So, I'm glad to be back in uniform."

    On Sunday, he'll be back on the field when the Rams (1-1) meet the New Orleans Saints (1-1) at noon at the Edward Jones Dome.

    The Rams have moved Williams to cornerback from free safety while corners Travis Fisher (broken arm) and DeJuan Groce (sprained knee) mend. Rich Coady is expected to start in Williams' old spot, but Lassiter should play, too.

    "He's been a terrific player in this league for many years, so it was good to be able to get him on the roster," coach Mike Martz said. "We're very fortunate that he was available."

    Lassiter played for several years under Larry Marmie, the former Arizona defensive coordinator who is in his first season in the same role with the Rams.

    "He understands the system," Martz said. "He should be able to come in and play immediately in some packages."

    Lassiter, who worked as the nickel back in practice and also will play on special teams, agreed that integrating himself into the Rams' system should be a snap.

    "Football is football," he said. "I'm going to have fun Sunday. I'm playing with some winners now."

    In Lassiter's eight seasons in Arizona, the Cardinals went 45-83 and finished last in their division four times. The Rams, conversely, have endured just one losing year after their 1999 Super Bowl championship.

    "These guys, they expect to win every Sunday," Lassiter said. "It's a different feeling. I'm going to have fun."

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Edwards will start at free safety for Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Since signing free-agent safety Antuan Edwards on Nov. 11, Rams coach Mike Martz had been eager to get the six-year NFL veteran on the field. Now, the trick is keeping him there.

    Edwards made a strong showing Monday in his Rams debut, collecting eight tackles and forcing a fumble in a 45-17 loss at Green Bay.

    "He played very well ... exceptionally well for the amount of time and preparation he's had," Martz said. "He filled fast, he made some real nice open-field plays. He has terrific range. He can get to the ball."

    Said Edwards: "It felt good playing football again. For being new to the system, I thought I did pretty good."

    His stout play, combined with a lingering stinger that has affected Aeneas Williams' neck and shoulder, earned Edwards a start: He'll be in the lineup at free safety Sunday when the Rams (5-6) take on NFC West rival San Francisco (1-10) at the Edward Jones Dome.

    "I'm excited to go out there and do whatever I can to help this team win and play the best ball I can play," said Edwards, 27. "I started in Miami, started in Green Bay, so I consider myself as a starter in this league."

    The overriding challenge for Edwards has been staying healthy. A litany of injuries, ranging from torn knee ligaments in 2001 to the severe groin pull that he had when he arrived here, have conspired to keep him on the sideline for 29 games. He played in all 16 games his rookie season, after the Packers made him their first-round pick (No. 25 overall) in the 1999 draft, then was out for 27 of the next 64 games. Edwards cites "bad luck and being in the wrong place at the wrong time" as reasons for most of his nicks.

    "In this league, it's hard to prevent injuries. It's a contact sport, so you're going to have injuries every week," he said. "Unfortunately it's happened to me more than most. It's very frustrating. But I have to keep pressing on, keep showing I can play, until they kick me out."

    The Dolphins stunned Edwards by giving him the boot Nov. 10 after he'd started eight games. He was released the day after coach Dave Wannstedt resigned amid the Dolphins' 1-8 start.

    "I was really surprised. I thought they were really joking with me, to tell you the truth," Edwards recalled.

    The Rams grabbed the 6-foot-1, 210-pound native of Starkville, Miss., signing him to a deal for the rest of the season.

    "He's big and physical," Martz said. "We thought there was terrific value in him."

    He was inactive for two games with the groin injury. Now, Edwards said, he has healed and is ready to prove that he's deserving of a spot in the league.

    "Every day you have to prove yourself in...
    -12-05-2004, 06:29 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Arizona's B.J. Dennard goes against grain
    by DJRamFan
    By Charles Renning Arizona Daily Wildcat
    Tucson, AZ (U-WIRE) -- As Arizona (2-8) prepares to battle archrival Arizona State (8-2) in the annual Duel in the Desert, the Wildcat football team can be grateful that UA freshman receiver/cornerback B.J. Dennard knows where his loyalties lie.

    Coming out of high school, Dennard had an easy choice of which college he was going to continue his football career.

    Dennard's dad, Glen, had lettered at receiver at Arizona State in 1984-'85.

    His cousin Ryan, more recently, had followed his uncles' footsteps and caught passes for the Sun Devils from 1999-'01. CASSIE TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat The versatility shown by B.J. Dennard during his first season as a Wildcat has allowed the freshman to see time on offense, defense and special teams so far.

    B.J.'s secondary coach at Phoenix-area Brophy Prep, former NFL star Mark Carrier, had just gotten a job in Tempe as ASU's new secondary coach.

    And B.J.'s best friend and cornerback counterpart at Brophy, Uriah Marshall, also chose to play at Arizona State.

    It was a no-brainer when B.J. decided to be an Arizona Wildcat.

    "It was hard to go in there," said Arizona defensive coordinator Mark Stoops who recruited Dennard out of Phoenix and had to battle the long, deep ties the freshman had with UA's rival to the north. "The only thing we could do was sell him on what we could do and what we were all about."

    Luckily for Stoops and the Wildcats, Dennard chose Tucson over Tempe and is now a muli-threat weapon for the Wildcats, instead of an archrival with the Sun Devils.

    "It was nice he believed what we were doing down here and he believed in us as coaches," said Stoops. "We hit it off right away."

    Dennard said he only gets light teasing from his friends and family about going against the trend and choosing Arizona over ASU.

    "They tease me once in a while, but it's all in good fun," he said.

    Even though Dennard says the teasing is all in fun, the football game is so much more.

    UA vs. ASU

    Arizona Wildcats (2-8) vs. ASU Sun Devils (8-1)

    Friday, 1 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Net Radio: KCUB 1290 AM

    Arizona Stadium

    "It means a lot. It's the biggest game of the season for me," he said "It's a bowl game, and I'm going to treat it as the Fiesta Bowl or Holiday Bowl or whatever."

    Coming into the season, Dennard said him and his teammates made up three goals that they wanted to accomplish this season and one of them was to beat ASU.

    "It's been a steady build up since the beginning of the season," he said. "It's been in the back of our mind the whole year...
    -11-26-2004, 08:19 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Cardinals] Special-teams blunders hinder chances
    by DJRamFan
    Kent Somers and Tim Tyers
    The Arizona Republic
    Dec. 13, 2004 12:00 AM

    The Cardinals special teams, normally reliable, contributed greatly to Sunday's 31-28 overtime defeat.

    They made at least five serious mistakes, ranging from Karl Williams mishandling a punt, to a missed field goal to three penalties.

    "In many ways, some of our players who made mistakes are guys who normally don't," coach Dennis Green said. "Karl Williams had not mishandled a punt this year." advertisement

    But in the second half, cornerback Duane Starks replaced Williams because Green was not happy with the production of the return team. Starks returned two punts for 22 yards.

    Back to school?

    ***** coach Dennis Erickson, who has three years left on his contract, is rumored to be Mississippi's top candidate for its coaching job. Also, Erickson is to meet with ***** owner John York today, and speculation is it's about his future with the team.

    But York denied Erickson's job is in jeopardy after the game and the meeting concerns other things, despite a two-win season.

    All this comes after Erickson reportedly told General Manger Terry Donahue this weekend that under no circumstances will he fire any of his assistant coaches.

    "Let me start by saying I am not going to answer any questions about meetings or the rumors out there," Erickson said after the game. "I am going to talk to you about this football game, and how hard we played, how they came back and all the things that happened today."

    Forget me

    Todd Peterson, a former Cardinals player in 1994 under Buddy Ryan, gave San Francisco its second win over Arizona with a 31-yard field goal in overtime.

    Peterson wasn't into self-adulation.

    "That's my job. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do? That's my role on the team," he said, when asked if he thought Erickson showed great confidence in him by deciding to kick the game winner on first down.

    "Don't talk about me, talk about (running back) Maurice Hicks. An undrafted free agent goes out and runs for over 100 yards. That's pretty cool."

    Lobbying effort

    Quarterback Josh McCown was nearly penalized for excessive celebration after scoring a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.

    McCown's helmet came loose as he scored and he pulled it off. An official threw a flag but it was waved off.

    "I wear that flimsy chin strap and my helmet tends to fall off," McCown said. "I didn't mean any disrespect by that, and I apologize because I didn't mean to pull it off."

    Injury update

    Right offensive tackle L.J. Shelton could...
    -12-13-2004, 10:09 AM
  • Nick
    Cardinals' Shipp may be out entire season
    by Nick
    Injuries may sideline Shipp for season
    Kent Somers
    The Arizona Republic
    Aug. 8, 2004 12:00 AM

    FLAGSTAFF - Marcel Shipp's ankle injury is more serious than first thought, and there's a strong chance the backup running back is out for the season.

    Additional tests revealed a fractured left fibula that will require surgery. Shipp also suffered a dislocated ankle when he was tackled during Friday night's scrimmage.

    Doctors probably will have to insert pins to repair the fracture, coach Dennis Green said Saturday. Shipp won't be able to do much for two to three months at least, which would put his return into October, at the earliest.

    It's unlikely the Cardinals would keep a roster spot open for him that long. If he's placed on injured reserve, it would mean he's out for the season.

    "I think we'll just take our time and make sure he's on the mend," Green said, "and then we'll look at the rest of it later."

    The Cardinals have no plans to add a running back, Green said. Josh Scobey and Damien Anderson, both of whom joined the team in 2002, will compete for the No. 2 job behind Emmitt Smith. Rookie free agent Larry Croom has been impressive early in camp.

    "I'm just really sick to my stomach," Scobey said of Shipp's injury. "It's going to be pretty tough to fill those shoes."

    Anderson has the most experience, having played in 26 games since making the team as an undrafted rookie two years ago. He was involved in a serious car accident in January but has fully recovered.

    Scobey, a former sixth-round pick, returned kicks last year but has never carried the ball from scrimmage.

    "Josh and I have competed since we got here," Anderson said. "It's nothing new. Just being in this game, you are going to have to compete every year."

    Green wouldn't say if Scobey or Anderson had an edge for the job.

    "We don't have to worry about that right now," he said. "We've got guys who want to be good players. Right now we're just going to worry more about Marcel."
    -08-08-2004, 10:04 AM
  • RamWraith
    Coady Strong at Safety
    by RamWraith
    Friday, October 8, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Rich Coady made the most of his opportunity against San Francisco on Sunday night.

    Coady has spent most of his career rotating as the backup free safety, backup strong safety, and coming in on nickel and dime packages. After making his first start at free safety against New Orleans in week three, Coady appeared to be relegated back to a reserve role.

    That was the case until it became evident that strong safety Adam Archuleta, a close friend of Coady’s, started battling back spasms. Coady stepped in to his friend’s place and played one of his best games.

    Coady made 10 tackles, falling one short of his career high and added a forced fumble against the *****. That effort earned him the team’s defensive player of the week honors.

    The ever-humble Coady said he couldn’t take all of the credit for his strong performance.

    “When you get all 11 guys playing well, it makes it easier,” Coady said. “A lot of the stuff that I did well is a direct result of everyone else being in their gap and doing what they’re supposed to do.”

    With Archuleta limited because of continued back problems and the return of cornerback DeJuan Groce imminent, Coady is set to start at strong safety again this week.

    Coady said he is used to shuttling between the two safety spots, but he feels more comfortable at one.

    “I do feel a little more comfortable at the strong,” Coady said. “That’s what I played in college and that’s where I have gotten most of my starts in the NFL. To me it doesn’t really matter, it’s just about being on the field.”

    Coady started at strong safety for Texas A & M for three seasons, earning All-Big 12 Conference honors his senior season. He spent his first three seasons with the Rams before going to Tennessee for a season. He signed with Indianapolis the following season, but the Rams traded a seventh round choice for him before last season.

    The uncertainty of whether he is going to start doesn’t bother Coady much anymore, as he has embraced his role as the utility guy. He has grasped the old “one play away” cliché as his personal mantra and it has paid off.

    “Every week I go in and prepare like I’m going to start,” Coady said. “Whether coach tells me I am going to start on Monday for the following Sunday or five minutes before the game, it’s not going to change how I prepare.”

    INJURY REPORT: There was little change to the injury report on Thursday.

    Cornerback Travis Fisher (broken forearm) and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (broken foot) are listed as out. Left guard Chris Dishman (sprained knee) and linebacker Tony Newson (ankle) are questionable. Kennedy has resume light running, but there is no immediate timetable on his return to practice.

    Probable for the Rams...
    -10-08-2004, 07:10 PM