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Fells Finds His Niche

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  • Fells Finds His Niche

    Fells Finds His Niche
    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    At 6’4, 270 pounds, Daniel Fells is the type of player who instantly catches your attention when he steps off the bus.

    When you see Fells run around the practice field with above average speed and you watch him catch everything in his vicinity as though he had a manicure at Elmer’s glue factory, you can’t help but think that when the football gods created a tight end, this is what he was supposed to look like.

    “There is a lot to like,” Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “Danny is one of those quote-unquote athletic tight ends. The team we are getting ready to play has two of them. Guys that can run, guys that are big, and guys that factor in the pass game. I think Danny does all of that.”

    Fells has done all of that for the better part of the past three years but it hasn’t been noticed by many because most of it has been limited to various practice fields throughout the NFL.

    For whatever reason, Fells has been a standout in practices since he signed as a rookie free agent with Atlanta in 2006 but the success he’s had there has just never translated to Sundays.

    Never, that is, until last week. After putting in plenty of long hours in meeting rooms and on practice fields, Fells finally got that feeling of accomplishment when he caught two touchdowns from quarterback Kyle Boller on consecutive drives against Green Bay.

    After the game, Fells was inundated with about 45 text messages from friends old and new alike.

    But even in his moment of triumph, Fells wasn’t much in the mood to celebrate. He went home and had dinner with his wife.

    “I have been waiting for the opportunity and it’s real nice but it’s real tough to take because we lost the game,” Fells said. “We wanted to win. It’s tough for us as a team. It’s a personal thing but that’s not what it’s about.”

    Coming out of the University of California-Davis, in 2006, Fells flew under the radar because he suffered a broken ankle that limited him to six games as a senior.

    Fells went undrafted but signed with Atlanta. Rams general manager Billy Devaney worked in Atlanta at the time and was part of the group that discovered Fells.

    Fells made the roster but never got a chance to play for the Falcons and spent the next year bouncing to Oakland’s practice squad before moving to Tampa Bay in Jan. 2008.

    Finally, on Sept. 3 of last season, Devaney and the Rams made the move to bring Fells to St. Louis.

    Fells got a late start in getting acclimated to the offense and played in 12 games, making seven catches for 81 yards.

    “I kind of joined the team a little bit late so it was hard to catch up and jump in,” Fells said.

    Still, Fells’ immense skills were clearly evident to the Rams and entering camp, the opportunity became clear for Fells to earn more playing time.

    Fells says he played in an offense similar to the one he worked in at college. And for the first time since his arrival in the league, Fells finally had the chance to start at square one with the rest of his teammates in learning an offense as opposed to having to play catch up.

    “It’s a funny situation,” Fells said. “Pretty much everywhere I have been, pretty much everywhere I have been in the league, I have been working with a new offense. It’s kind of one of those things I got used to starting from scratch and going into situations to learn a whole new offense at the beginning of the season.”

    In the Rams’ offense, tight ends are asked to do a little bit of everything. That’s why all three tight ends on the roster get plenty of playing time on Sundays.

    Fells says he has leaned on his more experienced teammates to help him improve his game and an early vote of confidence from the likes of Spagnuolo and tight ends coach Frank Leonard have pushed him even further in his development.

    “I have a lot of support around me,” Fells said. “Randy McMichael, Billy Bajema, the older guys have helped me along the way. The coaching staff believes in me and they have given me an opportunity. That makes me a better individual as well as a better player.

    “I wanted to be crisper at running routes. I wanted to be more of a physical blocker. I wanted to help the team any way I could.”

    While Fells’ production against the Packers didn’t earn him a starting job, it also won’t hurt his cause in getting more opportunities in the passing game. The Rams regularly use multiple tight end sets and the need for someone to stretch defenses down the seam in the passing game is an important part of the Rams’ offensive game plan.

    Should Fells continue to make a positive impact in the passing game, there’s no doubt that he will continue to earn the trust of the coaching staff and the quarterback.

    Chemistry with Boller was made apparent against the Packers and there’s no doubt that it could translate into even more success for Fells in the future.

    “Danny’s a big guy,” Boller said. “A guy that I’ve always thought has great hands. Ever since April (when Boller signed with the Rams) he’s been making plays and a guy that I feel confident throwing the ball to.”

  • #2
    Re: Fells Finds His Niche

    McMichael I believe is a FA next year so I'm assuming (praying with fingers crossed ) that he won't be resigned.

    The problem is Fells will be also. So... it will be interesting to see how he performs the rest of the year and based on that if we try to lock him down to a longer deal before he hits Free Agency.


    • #3
      Re: Fells Finds His Niche

      Bench McMichael and start Fells. Randy can't catch anything and this guy can make the tough catch. The second TD against the Packers was excellent. The DB had one end of the ball and Fells the other, Fells just ripped it right out and made the catch.

      We need more of that this year from all our young guys

      Start Fells already !!!

      Maineram -


      Related Topics


      • ramfan247
        Daniel Fells #2 Tight End-BIG SLEEPER
        by ramfan247
        The coaches must be REALLY impressed with this guy. There has been a lot of positive media about how well Billy Bajema is doing in camp, yet Daniel Fells is still ahead of him on the depth chart. So I think Fellls is being groomed to be the Rams' next #1 overall (blocking and catching) tight end.
        I went to a couple of training camp practices and I could easily see why the coaches like him. He definitely creates match up problems in the receiving game. Caught a bunch of balls on O.J. The kid is REAL quick and REAL big. He gets down the field and gets open like a wide receiver and uses his 270lb frame to shove guys out of the way. I'm real impressed with his hands too. He catches the ball with his hands like a wide out and not with his body like some other tight ends. If I remember correctly, he lined up in the back field a bunch of times at the scrimmage too and blocked down the middle. I guess he can do it all! Hope to see what he can do for us in the next couple of games.
        -08-13-2009, 09:21 AM
      • thatguy
        Daniel Fells should get more credit imo
        by thatguy
        I don't see many people talking about him but he is a big target and he knows how to use his size to his advantage. He isn't the fastest or most athletic but he has solid hands and as soon as he catches the ball he always goes straight up field. At 270 pounds he is tough to tackle and he knows that and that's what I like about him. Whether its Fells, Onubon, or Hoomanawanui I think the rams have a bright future at the TE position
        -12-28-2010, 06:31 PM
      • Bosna-Ram
        Rams would like to re-sign TE Daniel Fells
        by Bosna-Ram
        by: vanram

        Answering questions after his official media availability, St. Louis Rams GM Billy Devaney revealed a little bit about the team's plans for one their pending free agents. Asked by TST whether they planned to bring back TE Danile Fells, Devaney expressed a desire to bring Daniel Fells back this season.
        We'd like to have Daniel back.
        Tight end Daniel Fells has been hit and miss during his time with the Rams. This first two years were pretty tumultuous; some of the more generous watchers would give him a mulligan for '08 and '09.

        Fells had career highs with 41 catches and 391 yards last year, but those numbers were marred by inconsistency. Regardless, bringing Fells back makes some sense for the Rams. Clearly he's lost his role as the starter, replaced by Michael Hoomanawanui, who the Rams hope stays healthy this season. Fells can catch the ball and block, functionally in both areas.

        If the Rams do end up bringing Daniel Fells back, the depth chart will largely depend on how far along Fendi Onobun is. The "project" tight end the Rams picked in the sixth round last year didn't see much time on the field before injury ended his season. He caught two passes and his speed was an asset on special teams.

        Devaney, in talking about receivers, noted how the Patriots were able to stretch the field with their tight ends last season. Ideally, Onobun would do that for the Rams. If Onobun can do some damage on the field, Fells would drop to third or even fourth on the depth chart, behind Uh Oh, Onobun and possibly Billy Bajema.
        -02-25-2011, 07:48 PM
      • ramfan247
        Fells' stock rises at tight end for Rams
        by ramfan247
        Fells' stock rises at tight end for Rams

        By BILL COATS


        The subject was tight end Randy McMichael and his return to the Rams after missing most of last season with an injury. Unprompted, quarterback Marc Bulger added this:

        "Daniel Fells is also playing lights out. I think we'll have a couple tight ends that can do some things."

        Apprised of that assessment, Fells smiled broadly and said, "That's good to hear. When your quarterback gives you a shout out, it's always a good feeling."

        A year ago, Bulger probably never had heard of Fells, who had bounced around the NFL for a couple of years. Undrafted out of California-Davis, Fells was inactive for all 16 games with Atlanta in 2006, then spent 2007 on Oakland's practice squad.

        He made Tampa Bay's practice squad last summer, and the Rams signed him to their 53-man roster Oct. 6, shortly after McMichael suffered a season-ending leg injury.

        Fells, 25, suited up for a regular-season game for the first time Oct. 12 at Washington. He made his first reception — for a 26-yard gain — Nov. 23 vs. Chicago, and finished the season with seven catches for 81 yards.

        But it was the sticky hands that Fells showed during the weeks of practice that really got him noticed. He's continued to impress during the Rams' first offseason program under coach Steve Spagnuolo.

        "He's very athletic, been making a lot of plays," Spagnuolo said after practice Friday. "We don't know the blocking part yet, because we don't have the pads on. But I'm very pleased."

        And open-minded about giving players a chance to show off their skills, Spagnuolo stressed. "There's a lot of guys out here like that, and they're all going to get it," he said. "This is the land of opportunity right now."

        The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Fells — nicknamed "Big Smooth" by his teammates — has moved past Joe Klopfenstein, the team's second-round draft choice in 2006, into the No. 2 spot behind McMichael. If Fells can stick there, he figures to get plenty of balls thrown his way in the West Coast-style offense that coordinator Pat Shurmur is installing.

        "In the passing game we're trying to put in, the quarterback distributes the ball to a lot of people, (including) the backs and the tight ends," Spagnuolo said. "People think that the pass game is just wide receivers. In this league nowadays, you've got to defend everybody."

        Sets featuring two tight ends are common, which means that McMichael and Fells could be on the field together a lot.

        "The West Coast system is very, very versatile for the tight end," Fells said. "They have the tight ends moving around a lot, got us in the backfield a little
        -05-30-2009, 10:30 PM
      • ramfan247
        TE Daniel Fells is one of the top sleepers of 09
        by ramfan247
        Excited about this kid. He showed a lot of promise and potential last year and it seems like hes gonna have a big 2009.
        Its been reported that he has really shined in the last two mini-camps and has excelled as a slot receiver and mobile Tight End.
        Bulger said that he had a "rediculously great" mini-camp and that he was playing like "lights out." And lots of media outlets that watched both camps have reported that he has gotten a whole lot of red zone action and that hes gonna be one of the number one deep threats this year.
        Hes a big guy and could be the big receiving target we need this year because all our receivers are definitely on the small side.
        Shurmur (the offensive coordinator) said "Fells is the guy for us that's really gonna make mis-matches with the defenses we go up against this year."
        He's a definite sleeper and I think he might get more action as a receiving tight end than McMichael. I'm callin it. We'll see!
        -05-08-2009, 07:13 PM