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  • Ramsey Stays Focused After Moving To Rams

    Ramsey stays focused after moving to Rams

    BY BILL COATS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/08/2009

    Until his junior year at Dominguez High in Compton, Calif., LaJuan Ramsey dreamed of the Olympics, not the NFL. He was a swimmer, a 50-meter sprinter, but his size — he's 6-feet-3 and 300 pounds — wasn't exactly suited for the pool.

    So he played football his junior and senior years, was a member of two national championship teams at Southern California and is preparing for his fourth NFL season. That he's doing so in St. Louis comes as quite a surprise to the 25-year-old defensive lineman.

    "This is all new to me, within the last 24 hours," Ramsey said Monday after his first practice with the Rams. "I was really expecting to, or working toward, being on the Tennessee Titans."

    But the Titans cut him Saturday, and the Rams grabbed him. They also picked up safety Anthony Smith, who was let go by Green Bay.

    Ramsey was a sixth-round draft pick by Philadelphia in 2006, Steve Spagnuolo's last season as the Eagles' linebackers coach. "One of the things that did impress me, as a rookie, he played both tackle and defensive end," Spagnuolo said. "I thought he did a nice job in the games at Tennessee this year. We'll see how he goes."

    Ramsey, who collected 24 tackles and an interception in 19 regular-season games with the Eagles and Colts, said he was impressed with Spagnuolo, too.

    "He's a good coach," Ramsey said. "I think he probably sees some of the same characteristics in me that he has. He a hard worker and nothing's been given to him. And that's how I feel: Nothing has been given to me in the NFL, and I'm still trying to work hard to receive the playing time, the recognition and just developing as a better player. ... "

    "I'm now focusing on being a Ram and beating the Seahawks" on Sunday in Seattle.

    A. SMITH ALSO ADJUSTS

    While Ramsey was surprised to be released, Smith was shocked. "I thought I performed really well" in the preseason, he said.

    The numbers back him up. The 6-foot, 200-pound Smith, 25, had 12 tackles — fifth among the Packers' defenders — two interceptions and a sack. The former third-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2006 said he believes that the determination to let him go came from the front office.

    "I think it was just (general manager) Ted Thompson's decision; all the coaches were pleased with my performance," Smith said. "Just got to roll with the punches, I guess."

    BULGER STILL ON HOLD

    Quarterback Marc Bulger still hasn't taken a snap under center since breaking the little finger on his right (throwing) hand three weeks ago. "It'll be another 48 hours before we practice again, and the hope is he'll be able to do it on Wednesday," Spagnuolo said. "At some point, we've got to test it and see how it feels to Marc, and then go from there."

    Several wounded players returned to practice Monday. Among them was running back Samkon Gado, who suffered cartilage damage to his ribs Thursday night vs. Kansas City. Also back on the field were guard Richie Incognito (knee), fullback Mike Karney (ankle) and defensive end Leonard Little (knee).

    Linebacker Larry Grant (knee) sat out and won't play Sunday, Spagnuolo said. Safety Craig Dahl (hamstring) was limited.

    Guard John Greco had surgery on the wrist he broke vs. the Chiefs. He's expected to miss two to three weeks.

    RAM-BLINGS

    The Rams completed their eight-man practice squad by re-signing rookie running back Chris Ogbonnaya, their seventh-round draft pick, and bringing in defensive end Bryan Smith, a second-year pro who was waived by the Eagles. ... Rookie tackle Jason Smith worked with the first team Monday, but Spagnuolo said he still hasn't decided who will line up where on the offensive line Sunday.

  • #2
    Re: Ramsey Stays Focused After Moving To Rams

    I'm excited to see this defensive rotation we got going here. It'll be really cool to watch.

    I'm a little worried about Bulger though. I hope it turns out okay.

    Comment

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    • MauiRam
      Smith is striving to be a starter ..
      by MauiRam
      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...
      -08-29-2009, 01:34 AM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Rams Are Cautious With Jason Smith
      by r8rh8rmike
      St. Louis Rams are cautious with Jason Smith

      BY BILL COATS
      ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
      12/01/2009

      Rookie tackle Jason Smith's unexpected trip Sunday from the Edward Jones Dome to Barnes-Jewish Hospital was a stark illustration of the NFL's growing concern over head injuries.

      Smith suffered a concussion Nov. 22 against Arizona. Twice last week he failed a follow-up neurological exam and was kept out of uniform vs. Seattle.

      The No. 2 overall pick in the draft, Smith was watching from the sideline when he became dizzy and started vomiting late in the third quarter. "The doctors wanted to get some precautionary tests done to make sure there was nothing new going on with his concussion recovery," Jim Anderson, the Rams' head trainer, explained Monday. "All his tests were normal, and he was released afterward."

      Several players around the league were grounded Sunday while recovering from concussions. That group included quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh and Kurt Warner of Arizona, and running backs Brian Westbrook of Philadelphia and Clinton Portis of Washington.

      "With the environment we're in, I think it's a serious thing," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I think we ought to be careful with it."

      Smith didn't argue that point Monday, although he did maintain that offensive linemen "get concussions all the time. You clear up and keep playing. I probably had one or two of them in camp while I was here. We hit helmet to helmet all the time, and you get a little woozy."

      Smith, who said he'd never missed a game because of a concussion, experienced a variety of symptoms last week. "I felt a lot of different ways," he said. "But yesterday I was feeling real bad."

      Although Smith said Monday that he feels "great — 310 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal," he still must pass the five-tiered neuro exam before he'll be permitted to suit up again.

      "I feel the organization is doing a great job of making sure that I don't have anything that's lingering, to where I can play a hundred percent," he said. "Who knows? Tomorrow, I might be Superman again; right now, I'm just Batman — can't fly."

      INJURY UPDATES

      The knee injury that sent center Jason Brown to the sideline late in the first half was diagnosed as a moderate sprain. "We'll see if we can't get him to Wednesday's practice, but we'll tread lightly on that one," Spagnuolo said.

      Linebacker James Laurinaitis is nursing a mild shoulder sprain, and running back Steven Jackson, who played despite experiencing back spasms all last week, "obviously came out sore ... nothing more serious than that," Spagnuolo reported.

      The rest of the Rams' injuries were mostly bumps and...
      -12-01-2009, 02:50 PM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Notebook: Wyche Ready For Action With Rams
      by r8rh8rmike
      NOTEBOOK: Wyche ready for action with Rams
      By BILL COATS
      ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
      12/26/2009

      Although he was drafted 3½ years ago, James Wyche would be seeing action in just his third NFL regular-season game if the Rams decide to suit him up Sunday at Arizona.

      A seventh-round pick by Jacksonville in 2006, Wyche spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad. The 6-foot-5, 279-pound defensive end from Syracuse then missed all of the next two seasons, with a groin injury in 2007 and a torn Achilles' tendon in '08.

      The Achilles' tear "is about the worst injury an athlete can have," said Wyche, 27. "But I've bounced back from there. I'm getting my leg stronger."

      Wyche got into two games this season, recording one tackle, before the Jaguars waived him a week ago. ShopSTL Marketplace

      With Leonard Little unable to get back on the field until his knee heals after an infection was drained, the Rams picked up Wyche on Monday and hustled him into the mix.

      "I've got a good jump on the plays already," Wyche said. "If they have to throw me in there on Sunday, I'm ready."

      Eager, in fact, to start proving himself to his new team.

      "Going out there, showing talent and making plays, that's what it's all about," Wyche said. "It's always good to get a new start."

      LONG ON LEFT SIDE

      Little's absence also has provided Chris Long with extended time on the left side. Normally, Long lines up at right defensive end, his position during most of his college career at Virginia.

      "I think I can do different things from different sides," Long said. "I've got some getting-used-to to do on the left side, but I feel good over there."

      One advantage, he noted, is going against right tackles. Most teams line up their best tackle on the left side, to protect the quarterback's blind side.

      "There is a big difference," Long said. "Right tackles tend to be a little bit less athletic, more maulers. So, that can serve well on pass rush."

      NO QB DECISION

      Even on Christmas Day, with only two reporters in attendance for the 90-minute practice, coach Steve Spagnuolo was handing out no holiday treats — at least when the subject was his starting quarterback vs. the Cardinals.

      "I've talked with both quarterbacks, and I'm going to let them know as soon as I know," he said. "But I'm not going to make any decision right now."

      Still, all signs point to rookie Keith Null for the third Sunday in a row. Again on Friday, Null took the vast majority of the snaps with the No. 1 unit. Kyle Boller did nearly all his work with the scout team.

      "The nice thing is, both of them look healthy," Spagnuolo...
      -12-25-2009, 11:37 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, 09:42 AM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Rams Facing Big Shortage
      by r8rh8rmike
      Rams facing big shortage
      BY BILL COATS
      ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
      11/28/2009

      Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo cringed when considering the possibility that five of his 11 starters on offense could be watching from the sideline Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

      "Well, when you list it like that ... " Spagnuolo said before reverting quickly to the company line.

      "In this league, you've got to step in there and play," he said. "All teams have injuries. We just line up and play the game."

      Still, the Rams' odds of knocking off Seattle certainly would be enhanced if quarterback Marc Bulger (leg), guard Richie Incognito (foot), running back Steven Jackson (back spasms), fullback Mike Karney (neck) and tackle Jason Smith (concussion) were on the field for the noon kickoff.
      Bulger and Smith definitely won't suit up. Kyle Boller takes over for Bulger with the first team. Adam Goldberg slides from right guard into Smith's spot at right tackle, with Mark Setterstrom expected to move in at right guard.

      Setterstrom, who hasn't started a game since the third week of the 2007 season, had "a solid week" of practice with the first team, Spagnuolo reported.

      Incognito, Jackson and Karney were listed as questionable on Friday's injury report. In NFL parlance, that means they have a 50-50 chance of playing.

      Jackson, the NFL's second-leading rusher, missed a third consecutive day of practice, although he did some individual work with the trainers on the sideline. Spagnuolo said he hoped to reach a decision on Jackson's availability today but conceded he might wait until Sunday morning.

      "I trust Steven and what he can tell me. I think he'll be truthful," Spagnuolo said. "The competitive juices come out. But I think he's been in the league long enough that he knows he doesn't want to hurt the team, yet he wants to be out there to help the team."

      Spagnuolo indicated that despite missing the entire week of practice, Jackson could step in on game day without a glitch. Jackson, who said earlier in the week that he expected to play Sunday, was unavailable to reporters Friday.

      If Jackson were unable to play, Kenneth Darby and Samkon Gado would be the primary ball-carriers. Rookie Chris Ogbonnaya, a seventh-round draftee who has spent the season on the practice squad, could be promoted to the 45-man game-day roster.

      "They just told me to prepare, be ready just in case they need me," said Ogbonnaya, who took some reps with the first unit this week. "Whatever happens, happens. I'll just stay patient, stay positive."

      BLACKED OUT

      For just the seventh time since the Rams moved here in 1995, a home game will be blacked out locally. Several thousand tickets remained unsold for Sunday's contest as...
      -11-28-2009, 12:46 PM
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