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St. Louis Rams safety Craig Dahl is no bust despite rust

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  • St. Louis Rams safety Craig Dahl is no bust despite rust

    St. Louis Rams safety Craig Dahl is no bust despite rust
    BY BILL COATS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/29/2009

    Because the Rams suited up only three safeties Sunday, they found themselves in a precarious situation when James Butler left with an injury on Green Bay's second play of the game.

    Craig Dahl was sent in for Butler. The same Craig Dahl who tore a ligament in his left knee at the end of the 2007 season, missed all of 2008 after tearing a ligament in his right knee in the preseason, and sat out the first two games this year because of a hamstring injury.

    If Dahl came up lame, Oshiomogho Atogwe would be the only safety left, because Anthony Smith and David Roach weren't activated.

    Not only did Dahl finish the game, he wound up as the Rams' leading tackler, with 11. He also was solid in pass coverage in the 36-17 loss.

    "It was nice to know that you could put a guy in there with limited reps," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "He made some plays for us."

    Now, with Butler expected to miss at least two weeks with a torn ligament in his left knee, Dahl becomes a starter. "It's a big loss for us," he said, "but I think the guys have confidence in me to step right in and fill his shoes."

    The 6-foot-1, 209-pound Dahl, 24, was an offseason pickup. He originally was signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted rookie out of North Dakota State. He was there in '07 and '08 when Spagnuolo was the Giants' defensive coordinator.

    Before Sunday, Dahl hadn't played in a regular-season game in 21 months.

    INJURY UPDATES

    Butler, quarterback Marc Bulger (shoulder) and wide receiver Laurent Robinson (leg, ankle) suffered the most serious injuries Sunday. Linebacker David Vobora might've sustained the strangest.

    Vobora took a blow to the head on a kickoff return in the third quarter. But he stayed in the game until about midway through the final period.

    His teammates realized something was wrong "when I asked them what my assignment was over and over," Vobora said. "They grabbed the trainers, and (they) started asking me questions."

    Vobora suffered a concussion and will be re-evaluted today. He said Sunday was mostly a blur.

    "The only thing I remember is going out of the tunnel when they turned off all the lights and we had the fog and stuff" before the opening kickoff, he said. "Going home, going out to dinner with some teammates, I don't remember any of that."

    Other injuries mostly were minor: wide receiver Donnie Avery (ribs), cornerback Ron Bartell (thigh), defensive tackle Gary Gibson (leg) and linebacker James Laurinaitis (shoulder).

    STILL HOPE?

    More than 11 months have passed since the Rams were victorious (Oct. 19 vs. Dallas), and they're lugging the NFL's longest current losing streak, 13 games. And yet a win over the ***** would leave the Rams just one game out of first place in the NFC West.

    "I realize we're 0-3, but ... anything and everything that we want to accomplish this year is still in front of us," Spagnuolo said. "It's way early; there's 13 weeks, minimum, left to this season."

    Spagnuolo demurred when asked to specify those goals. "I think you can figure them out," he said. "It's like any other NFL team, what they want to do at the beginning of the season."

    RAM-BLINGS

    Jacksonville signed defensive end Bryan Smith off the Rams' practice squad, adding him to their 53-man roster. The Rams play the Jaguars on Oct. 18. ... Before Monday night's game, running back Steven Jackson was fifth in the NFL in rushing yardage, with 288. At that pace, he would finish the season with a career-high 1,536.
    :ramlogo:

  • #2
    Re: St. Louis Rams safety Craig Dahl is no bust despite rust

    So much for an injury free game. Vobora's a beast to play through a quarter of the game with a concussion. I just hope that it's a minor one so that he can suit up next week. We'll need him!

    Dahl certainly was all around the ball in the run game, but I don't know how good he was in the passing game. We gave up a number of long passes that needed safety coverage, but that could be the play call as opposed to Dahl's fault. I do remember one good pass defense that he had that would have been a score if not for him.
    I believe!:ram:

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    • r8rh8rmike
      Healthy Dahl Happy To Contribute
      by r8rh8rmike
      Healthy Dahl Happy to Contribute
      By Jonathan Webb/Special to stlouisrams.com

      Fresh off his best game as a professional, Craig Dahl believes he’s finally able to show his full potential.

      Dahl finished with a team-leading seven tackles, a sack and his first career interception in Sunday’s 19-6 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. It was the latest installment of what has been a successful second half for the fourth-year safety.

      Since his start against Carolina on Oct. 31, Dahl has led the Rams with 41 tackles while establishing himself as the team’s every-week starting strong safety. Not bad for a guy whose career had been riddled with injury entering this year.

      “Once you make it in this league and kind of get situated and get some comfort level, and then get injured, it’s always a battle to get back to where you were,” Dahl said. “I feel like now my body’s caught up with me, I’m back to where I am. Just to be given the opportunity to come back after injuries like that is just a blessing. It’s just given me all the confidence in the world to be the player I thought I always was.”

      Three years ago, Dahl was a long way from being a starting safety for a first-place team.

      At the end of his rookie season in 2007 with the New York Giants, Dahl suffered a torn ACL, forcing him to miss the team’s Super Bowl run and the entire 2008 season. Injuries continued to plague Dahl after joining St. Louis last year, as a strained hamstring last year and a concussion in week two against Oakland slowed his progress. Being able to put his injury woes behind him has been a relief for Dahl.

      Now healthy, Dahl has proven to be productive when given the opportunity to succeed. After splitting time at strong safety last year, Dahl has started nine of the team’s 12 games, a career high.

      During that time, Dahl has proven to be a versatile defender. For a player who spends most of his time in the secondary, Dahl has earned a penchant for making plays at the line of scrimmage, as he is tied with linebacker Na’il Diggs with five tackles for loss, the fourth-most on the team.

      Coach Steve Spagnuolo, who was Dahl’s defensive coordinator when the two were together in New York, has been encouraged by Dahl’s performance near the line of scrimmage and in coverage.

      “He made a bunch of plays last week,” Spagnuolo said. “A couple of blitzes he had were really pretty good. He played real aggressive and he made the plays when they were presented to him, and at the safety position that’s big. When they throw the ball to you, you’ve got to catch it, and he did. That sounds like a small thing, but he made some big plays for us.”

      Though his biggest contributions have been from the safety position, Dahl has not been restricted to the defense. He has also proven to be capable on special teams, where he contributes on punt and kickoff...
      -12-08-2010, 08:44 PM
    • MauiRam
      Dahl to start at safety for Rams ..
      by MauiRam
      BY KATHLEEN NELSON Posted: Friday, August 13, 2010 12:00 am

      Craig Dahl will start at strong safety in place of James Butler on Saturday, when the Rams face the Minnesota Vikings in their first preseason game.

      "Really?" Dahl said, then left the word hang in the air for 10 seconds before admitting that he was just messing around. After all, Dahl has been practicing with the first unit for a week, since Butler suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament. He is expected to be out for a few weeks.

      Neither Dahl nor coach Steve Spagnuolo messes around, though, on the subject of Dahl's versatility.

      "James had been the quarterback (on defense), but Craig knows that enough," Spagnuolo said. "He plays both safety spots. I know O.J. (Atogwe) feels comfortable with Craig back there, and I know the coaches do. So that's a bonus we have here."

      Dahl's ability to play both strong and free safety served him well last year, when he replaced Butler and later Atogwe, at free safety.

      "Whenever I get on the field and play, I'll take it," he said. "We have a great safety in O.J. and a great safety in James. I look at it as if I'm another great safety who can work in the mix where I can. I don't consider it a demotion when James and O.J. play and I don't."

      Perhaps Dahl has an advantage over many of his Rams teammates, since he considers this his fourth year in Spagnuolo's system. He played two injury-riddled seasons at strong safety under Spagnuolo with the Giants, who signed Dahl as a free agent out of North Dakota State.

      "I have plenty of notebooks with the same notes over and over again," he said. "But you understand the coaches' philosophy better every year."

      Smith to play early

      After two days of strong practices, tackle Jason Smith is likely to take the field with the starting unit Saturday. Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, has been working back slowly since suffering a stress fracture to the second toe of his right foot in June. Spagnuolo indicated Tuesday that Smith could sit out Saturday's game, but his performance in practice in the last two days have moved up the timetable.

      "I'm hoping he can get some work early in the game," Spagnuolo said Thursday afternoon, after a shortened practice that was moved inside because of thunderstorms. "Every day you mess around with that particular injury, you ask after practice, 'How do you feel?' As long as it doesn't go backwards, hopefully we'll get him in there."

      Spagnuolo added, however, that a pair of Smith's linemates projected as starters won't play: John Greco (pectoral muscle) and Jacob Bell (abdominal muscle).

      Jackson to play little

      Spagnuolo said that at best, running back Steven Jackson would play "not much....
      -08-13-2010, 01:35 AM
    • eldfan
      Rams' Dahl looks like a go for Sunday
      by eldfan
      BY JIM THOMAS | Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 4:48 pm | (2) Comments

      Font Size: Default font size Larger font size Share Frequently when players suffer concussions, they blank out and forget parts of the game. That didn't happen to St. Louis Rams safety Craig Dahl two Sundays ago in Oakland. He remembers everything, including the fact that he couldn't see straight after a fourth-quarter collision with Raiders running back Darren McFadden.

      "I got up and my eyes were just real fuzzy," Dahl said. "I couldn't focus. You know, you try to blink, you try to concentrate real hard and maybe you snap out of it. Sometimes (your vision) just gets out of alignment once in a while. But it wasn't happening.

      "I distinctly remember hearing O.J. (Atogwe's) voice, and he goes: ‘You all right?' I said, ‘No.' He goes, ‘Get back down.' That's when I took the knee the second time. You knew it wasn't good."

      Dahl was done for the day in Oakland and missed last Sunday's game against Washington. But after being cleared by a neurologist on Tuesday, Dahl has been full-go in practice this week and is expected to start Sunday against Seattle.

      "He's a veteran guy that's been in our system for more than just a few games," defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. "So we'll get his leadership, his know-how, his game experience back there. That'll make a big difference for us."

      Had Dahl not been cleared the Rams would be facing a real dilemma for the Seattle game. Because the only other healthy Rams safety is James Butler. Atogwe (thigh) and Darian Stewart (hamstring) continue to be sidelined with injuries.

      Even with the missed time, Dahl still ranks fourth on the team in tackles (15), with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a quarterback hit, and a quarterback pressure.
      -09-30-2010, 09:50 PM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Rams Team Report - Oct 29
      by r8rh8rmike
      Rams Team Report
      Yahoo! Sports - Oct 29, 2:56 am EDT


      INSIDE SLANT

      It surely hasn't been the start of his NFL head coaching career that Steve Spagnuolo envisioned.

      The Rams have lost their first seven games and now face for the second straight week a team coming off their bye. Last week, it was the 5-0 Colts at home, and this week it's the 1-5 Lions on the road.

      Teams playing after their bye have won 52.5 percent of the time since byes were added to the schedule in 1990.

      In addition, the way the schedule has worked for the Rams has had the better teams at home and the arguably more winnable games on the road. The current combined records of the home games -- Green Bay (4-2), Minnesota (6-1) and Indianapolis (6-0) -- is 16-3.

      Conversely, the total record for the road games -- Seattle (2-4), Washington (2-5), San Francisco (3-3) and Jacksonville (3-3) -- is 10-15.

      The trend continues this week with Detroit on the road and New Orleans (6-0) at home on Nov. 8 after the Rams' bye.

      By(e) the way, the Rams are one of only five teams that have two consecutive games against teams coming off their bye. They are one of only two teams that opened the season with two games on the road, and one of four teams that played four of their first six games on the road.

      When those numbers were presented to Spagnuolo on Monday, he smiled and said, "I appreciate all your info. It's enlightening in a way, but it doesn't change what we've got to do."

      He later added, "I don't get wrapped up in (scheduling). And I really learned that from (Philadelphia coach) Andy Reid. Andy had a unique way when the schedules came out ... there would always be positives about the way he looked at the schedule."

      Perhaps the only positive are the three straight home games in November after the bye, but the best the Rams will be then is 1-7.

      Asked if he gets advice from fans in emails or at the gas station, Spagnuolo said, "When you're winning, you get a lot of phone calls. When you're not, everybody is afraid (to call). But really that's when you want them. That's when you need them. It works the other way. I don't know why. I have some very good people that will hang in there. It's much appreciated. As long as I have my wife still on my side, I'll be OK."

      Spagnuolo has managed to maintain an even-keel attitude despite the gloom and doom, and seemingly has his players battling and not pointing fingers at each other.

      Said free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, "We stay together. In tough times like this the only thing you can do is stay together and continue to press on forward and that's what we're going to do because we have guys of character in here. Things will turn around and that's what we're fighting for."

      Rookie middle...
      -10-29-2009, 05:50 PM
    • Nick
      Rams Deal with Injuries
      by Nick
      Rams Deal with Injuries
      Monday, September 28, 2009
      By Nick Wagoner
      Senior Writer

      The Rams spent most of the past 24 hours waiting anxiously for injury news on a few of their most important pieces. What they got in return was a mixed bag of better than expected and worse than feared.

      In Sunday’s loss to Green Bay, the Rams were hit hard by the injury bug as it seemed not a quarter went by without another ailment striking someone down. None were bigger than quarterback Marc Bulger’s right shoulder injury; safety James Butler’s left knee injury and receiver Laurent Robinson’s right ankle injury.

      Still, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and Co. held out hope that further examinations on Monday morning would came back better than expected. In two of those cases, perhaps it did. On another, not so much.

      Spagnuolo announced Monday afternoon that the player hit the worst was Robinson, who suffered a high ankle sprain and what Spagnuolo described as a “fracture high on his fibula.”

      Translation: Robinson will need surgery in the coming days and will almost certainly be out for the rest of the season.

      “The most significant one was Laurent Robinson, who is going to require surgery,” Spagnuolo said. “It was a high ankle sprain and also a fracture high on his fibula. He will pretty much be done.”

      The news about Robinson is particularly disappointing considering how he had established himself since coming to the Rams in a trade during the offseason.

      Robinson had emerged as the Rams’ most consistent receiving threat, posting a team-leading 13 catches with 167 yards and a touchdown in his two plus games.

      But a simple running play to the left side in which Robinson was out front blocking resulted in the end of his season when the pile rolled up on his right leg from behind.

      “I thought he had done a really good job, the whole season,” Spagnuolo said. “The whole wealth of his work, preseason on, I thought he had done an excellent job. He was a tremendous addition to this team. It was a good move by Billy when he pulled the trigger on that. Unfortunately for us and for him, he will probably be out the rest of the season.”

      From there, the news was a little brighter on the injury front. Bulger was driven to the ground, landing on his right shoulder on two consecutive plays in the first quarter against the Packers.

      After the first one, he attempted to come back on the field but he was hit and landed almost exactly as the first hit and was unable to return to the game.

      There was a fear as recently as last night that Bulger’s injury would be extremely serious but a Monday morning MRI revealed some positive news.

      Bulger has no tear or sprain in the...
      -09-28-2009, 06:02 PM
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