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  • Smith is striving to be a starter ..

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    08/29/2009

    Training camp is winding down, the regular-season opener is barely two weeks off, and the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft still hasn’t earned a promotion to the first team. If that’s bothering Rams tackle Jason Smith, he isn’t letting on.

    “Coach told me when I first got here that there are a lot of steps you have to do to be a part of this team, and then there are a lot of steps you have to do to get on the field,” Smith said Friday. “I just want to take the proper steps.”

    Smith saw extended action Thursday night in the Rams’ 24-21 preseason victory at Cincinnati at both right and left tackle — but mostly with the second team.

    “I thought he played more aggressive than he did last week. I was pleased to see that,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. But he hedged when asked when Smith might be ready to ascend the depth chart.

    “I don’t know that yet,” Spagnuolo said. “It depends on everybody around him, who’s playing where and how the rest of the guys are doing. We’ll just keep him on course.”

    Alex Barron is the starting left tackle, and that isn’t likely to change. Veteran Adam Goldberg has been manning the right side most of the time, with Smith contributing here and there.

    A left tackle in Baylor’s spread formation, Smith is adjusting to a different side and a different scheme as well as the leap to the NFL.

    “It’s a new deal: a new position, new playbook, new everything,” he said. “But the more reps you get at something, the more comfortable you get, the better you get at it.”

    Like Spagnuolo, Smith is willing to be patient.

    “I never look at my draft status or what (outside) people think,” he said. “I feel that I’m progressing at a steady pace.”

    INJURY UPDATE

    Guard Jacob Bell (concussion) and defensive tackle Adam Carriker (ankle) are expected to practice this week and could play Thursday night when Kansas City visits the Edward Jones Dome. Carriker has missed all three preseason contests; Bell was injured on the first series of the opener at the Meadowlands.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger, recovering from a broken pinky on his right (passing) hand, is scheduled to throw this week, although he might not take snaps.

    A status update wasn’t available on the ankle injury wide receiver Keenan Burton suffered vs. the Bengals or safety Craig Dahl’s sore hamstring. Also, Spagnuolo reported that cornerback Justin King “has got something with his thumb that we’re going to have X-rayed.”


    FLAJOLE MOVES UP

    After being on the sideline for the first two contests, defensive coordinator Ken Flajole watched from the press box at Paul Brown Stadium. Linebackers coach
    Paul Ferraro replaced Flajole on the field.

    “Part of the whole preseason, not just for players but for coaches, is to get the right mixture. I think Ken felt more comfortable up there; it worked a little bit more smoothly,” Spagnuolo said. “We may do it again this week and then decide how we’re going to do it” during the season.


    READY TO ROLL

    With just 12 minutes to regroup, halftime in NFL locker rooms is usually pretty chaotic and the players often are rushing to get back to the field on time. That wasn’t the case Thursday.

    “Our guys were standing up, ready to go with five minutes to go. They just wanted to get back out and play,” Spagnuolo said. “I thought that was pretty revealing about this group and this team.”


    RAM-BLINGS

    The first cuts must be completed Tuesday, when rosters are reduced to 75 players from 80. The final cut to 53 players comes just four days later. ... The players had meetings, treatment and some conditioning Friday. They are off today. Practice resumes Sunday.

  • #2
    Re: Smith is striving to be a starter ..

    I think Smith would play better than Goldberg on the right side. Goldberg is a very capable back up. And we always have trouble on our line with injuries.

    Smith has the demeanor, the attitude, and the team spirit this team is looking for. It kinda sucks not having our entire line play together all preseason. =/

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Smith is striving to be a starter ..

      Originally posted by Mooselini View Post
      It kinda sucks not having our entire line play together all preseason. =/
      Agreed. Cohesion is one of the most important, and most unappreciated, factors for a good offensive line, IMO.

      Comment

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      • MauiRam
        Rams' Smith getting more reps with first team ..
        by MauiRam
        BY JIM THOMAS
        Wednesday, August 11, 2010 12:00 am

        There's still a long way to go before the regular season — 4½ weeks to be exact. But Jason Smith took another step toward being in the opening day lineup Tuesday at Rams Park.

        For the first time in training camp, Smith worked with the starting offensive unit during 11-on-11 — or "team" — drills. In fact, he was in with the No. 1 offense for all but the final team period Tuesday afternoon.

        "It felt great," Smith said. "Just being with the other guys, being with Goldie (Adam Goldberg), and being with Hank (Fraley) and Jason Brown. ... And the new guy, Rodger (Saffold). I'm just really excited I was in the huddle with those guys."

        As such it was another milepost for Smith — the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft — on the road back from a fractured toe in early June.

        For his part, coach Steve Spagnuolo downplayed Smith's workload.

        "It's a day-to-day thing," Spagnuolo said.

        He pointed out that the Rams had only one practice on Tuesday making it easier for Smith to get extended work. He noted that the Rams spent half the practice in 'shells" — or light padding — which meant less contact.

        "Every day you get him a little bit more (involved), and then you find out how the foot responds," Spagnuolo said.

        But even Spagnuolo conceded it was good to see Smith progress to the point where he was working with the starters. (The move of Smith to right tackle seems to be all but a done deal, since that's where he was practicing Tuesday.)

        "I think it's good for those guys to all be working together, making calls with each other," Spagnuolo said. "We all need the reps."

        Well, not all the guys were in there working together. Even though Smith was back with the starters, left guard Jacob Bell remains sidelined with a stomach muscle injury. Goldberg — the Rams' Mr. Versatile — had been working at right tackle all camp in place of Smith. On Tuesday, he was in at left guard for Bell.

        Which means offensive line continuity continues to elude the Rams. Entering camp, it looked like the preferred starting line was Saffold at left tackle, Bell at left guard, Brown at center, Goldberg at right guard, and Smith at right tackle.

        But that group has yet to take one snap together in camp. When asked how many reps he had taken at right guard in camp, Goldberg responded: "Zero."

        But Goldberg added, "When that day comes, we'll be ready. Coach Loney and I have been doing this together for a long time. I think he knows what's he's going to get from me, and I know what I'm going to get from him. And he'll get me there."

        Steve Loney, the Rams' offensive line coach, is in his third season with Goldberg in St. Louis....
        -08-10-2010, 11:05 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Smith Seems Right On Target
        by r8rh8rmike
        Smith seems right on target

        BY JIM THOMAS
        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
        09/06/2009

        Lofty draft status notwithstanding, Jason Smith was told from the outset that nothing would be handed to him in St. Louis. A lot of steps needed to be taken before the offensive tackle from Baylor would find himself at the doorstep of the Rams' starting lineup.

        "You focus on each step, one at a time," Smith explained. "And one day you hit the door right in the head. One day, I'll run right through the door. ... Bow! Right through the door."

        Just in time for the regular season, it looks like Smith is poised to knock that door down. But coach Steve Spagnuolo isn't ready to tip his hand — not just yet.

        "Between Sunday and Monday we'll have that wrapped up," Spagnuolo said Friday. "Sometimes you just get thrown in the fire before you're actually ready. And we'll decide whether we're going to go that route or put other guys in there."

        Smith might not be totally ready for the right tackle position in the NFL, but it's not like he

        embarrassed himself in the preseason, either. Sure he's had a few rough plays, including one early in the Kansas City game when Tamba Hali beat him around the edge for a pressure on quarterback Kyle Boller.

        But he hasn't given up a sack this preseason and has steadily improved over the course of exhibition play.

        "We know he struggled on that one play (against Kansas City). I mean, that's quite obvious," Spagnuolo said. "But you did see the aggressive offensive tackle that we watched on Baylor tape. He played with a little bit more confidence, I thought. And I thought as the game went on he got better and better."

        Spagnuolo has been decidedly old-school when it comes to anointing rookies. Both Smith and second-rounder James Laurinaitis spent all spring and summer on the second units despite glaring needs at both tackle and middle linebacker. It's as if they still had to earn their starting berths in Spagnuolo's eyes.

        "Every situation's different, every player's different, every team's different," Spagnuolo said. "But in this particular case, I think there's something to that. I don't think you just hand things over. I don't have children, but I mean, you start spoiling them (and) they tend not to be as hungry.

        "But James did a nice job and deserved to get in there when he did. Jason's time will come."

        Almost certainly sooner rather than later.

        "SKY'S THE LIMIT"

        There's probably no better judge of line play — in St. Louis or anywhere else for that matter — than longtime NFL offensive line coach Jim Hanifan. Now retired, but part of the Rams radio broadcast team, Hanifan has been a Smith fan since before the draft.
        ...
        -09-06-2009, 10:42 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Jason Smith Has Up, Down NFL Debut
        by r8rh8rmike
        Jason Smith has up, down NFL debut
        BY JIM THOMAS
        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
        01/02/2010

        Jason Smith got a little bit of everything as an NFL rookie. But too much of injuries.

        Smith returned to practice this week but won't play in Sunday's season finale against San Francisco. After missing five games because of a concussion, a week's worth of practice simply isn't enough to get game ready.

        So when all is said and done, the rookie offensive tackle from Baylor will have played in only eight games this season, with five starts.

        At age 23, he already has learned a valuable lesson about his profession. Namely ...

        "Don't take the season, and playing football, for granted," Smith said. "Obviously, there's a lot of people that wish they were able to wake up every morning, let alone be able to play football. At the end of the day, I'm just happy I was able to wake up and be a part of this team."

        That is Smith's rather unorthodox way of saying he's just happy to be alive.

        Although Smith was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, nothing was handed to him by coach Steve Spagnuolo. Smith didn't move into the starting lineup until just before the regular-season opener.

        Certainly nothing was handed to him once the games started. In the season opener, against the Seahawks, Seattle rookie linebacker Aaron Curry came at Smith's knees low and late downfield after a run by Steven Jackson early in the first quarter. Those are the kinds of plays that can lead to blown-out knees. But Smith was OK, and Curry was fined by the NFL.

        Smith also gave up a sack to Lawrence Jackson in that game, and another — to Dwight Freeney — six weeks later against Indianapolis.

        But there were plenty of high spots. In Game 2, against Washington, a block by Smith sealed the edge on a 58-yard run by Jackson — his longest gain of the year. The play set up the Rams' first touchdown of the season and gave them their first lead of the season.

        In the first Arizona game, on Nov. 22, blocks by Smith and tight end Randy McMichael helped spring Jackson on a 48-yard run that set up a Rams field goal.

        The gain put Jackson over 1,000 yards for a franchise-record fifth consecutive season.

        But for every step forward this season, Smith seemed to take one back.

        Less than 1½ games into his NFL career, Smith suffered a knee injury before halftime of the Washington game.

        He missed the next two games entirely because of the injury then rotated in for three contests before regaining his starting job in Game 8, against Detroit. He flashed his aggressive run-blocking skills against the Lions and was solid in pass protection as well in a 17-10 Rams victory.

        Following the bye, he also started and played well in the next two games.
        ...
        -01-02-2010, 12:16 AM
      • Nick
        Has rookie Jason Smith been promoted to first team? Well...
        by Nick
        Has rookie Jason Smith been promoted to first team? Well . . .
        By Bill Coats
        St. Louis Post-Dispatch
        08.30.2009 5:24 pm

        Make of it what you will, but some sideline observers found it curious that with Richie Incognito held out of St. Louis Rams practice Sunday because of a mild knee sprain, Adam Goldberg took over his spot at right guard, with rookie Jason Smith stationed at right tackle with the first-team offense.

        Goldberg had been working almost exclusively at tackle during training camp, and most of the time on the right side with the No. 1 unit. Smith was being used mostly in a backup role, getting snaps on both sides of the line.

        Could it be that Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, finally has been promoted to the starting lineup? Tight-lipped coach Steve Spagnuolo provided no info. But we’ll see what happens over the next couple of days.

        Notes & quotes

        *Spagnuolo was pleased with the team’s first practice since Thursday night’s preseason win at Cincinnati. “I thought they got after it pretty good,” he said. “Sometimes after two days (off) you’re a little sluggish coming out, but this team has continually responded.”

        *QB Marc Bulger tested the broken pinky finger on his right hand, tossing 21 passes before practice began. He didn’t take any snaps from center.

        *FB Mike Karney left early with soreness in the ankle that he sprained earlier in camp and kept him out for about two weeks.

        *X-rays of CB Justin King’s thumb were negative, and he practiced without any apparent problems. WR Keenan Burton, who tweaked an ankle vs. the Bengals, also participated fully.

        *DE Leonard Little (knee) was kept out of team drills and remains day-to-day.

        *Plenty of tickets are available for Thursday night’s preseason finale vs. the Chiefs at the Edward Jones Dome. Go to for The official site of the St. Louis Rams - Home Page for information.

        *S David Roach, fighting for a roster spot, made a pretty, leaping interception of a Keith Null pass in the 11-on-11 session.

        *Although Spagnuolo wouldn’t acknowledge as much, it appears as if Jonathan Wade is making a serious challenge to Tye Hill for the first-team CB spot alongside Ron Bartell. Wade has a team-high 12 tackles in the three preseason games; Hill has two.

        All for now . . .
        -08-30-2009, 09:06 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Smith Could Get Start In Second Preseason Game
        by r8rh8rmike
        Smith could get start in second preseason game
        By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
        Aug 19, 8:02 pm EDT


        ST. LOUIS (AP)—Rookie offensive lineman Jason Smith(notes) cooled his heels until late in the second quarter of the St. Louis Rams’ preseason opener. That could change Friday against the Falcons.

        The second overall pick of the NFL draft out of Baylor may get to start because fellow offensive tackle Alex Barron(notes) has missed recent two practices with knee soreness. It’s also evidence that he’s making progress.

        Smith refuses to lobby for a promotion with new coach Steve Spagnuolo or gripe about waiting on the sideline for so long, aside from a few special teams snaps. He’s willing to prove he’s worth the five-year, $62 million contract he signed the day before training camp opened, and still refers to veteran teammates as Mr. Jackson, Mr. Bulger and so on.

        There was 4:29 left in the second quarter when the second team offensive line hit the field in last week’s 23-20 victory over the Jets. Smith lined up at right tackle for the first time.

        “That’s when coach Spags felt I needed to go in the game, so that’s when I rightfully went in,” Smith said. “And when he pulled me out, I rightfully came out.

        “The thing about football is you can’t control anything that happens, all you can control is your effort and attitude.”

        That goes for the season opener, too. He’s likely to open the year as the starter for a franchise building from the ground up after totaling five victories the last two seasons, but is making no assumptions.

        “As long as I’m with the St. Louis Rams, I can be serving water the whole game,” Smith said. “As long as I’m doing my part, that’s all I care about.”

        If he plays well in the second preseason game, Smith said working against Leonard Little(notes) and James Hall(notes) in practice will be a major reason. He’s also had to adjust to a three-point stance after playing in a spread offense at Baylor, but said dealing with speed has been tougher.

        “I feel I’m pretty much ready for what the NFL has to offer because those two guys are very, very crafty,” Smith said. “Mr. Little and Mr. Hall, they kind of crack jokes about what they’re going to do to you next—and then they do it.”

        The 310-pound Smith also credits Adam Goldberg(notes), who started at right tackle in the preseason opener, for helping ready him for the pros. Goldberg would likely move to left tackle, Barron’s spot, if Barron isn’t ready to go on Friday.

        Goldberg played at four spots on the offensive line last season, filling in for various injured players. He said it’s part of his job to tutor Smith to take over at right tackle.

        “I’ll tell you what, he doesn’t need too many tips,” Goldberg said. “He’s the kind of guy you like to help out because he doesn’t take anything...
        -08-20-2009, 11:23 AM
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