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Jones' Perseverance Pays Off

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  • Jones' Perseverance Pays Off

    Jones' Perseverance Pays Off
    Friday, October 2, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    In football, like in life, timing can be everything. So it was when Nate Jones received the call from the Rams on Tuesday, informing him that he would be called up from the practice squad to the active roster for this week’s game against the *****.

    The past month or so has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for Jones. After making the team in the final round of cuts, he was released the following day and never even participated in a practice as a member of the active roster.

    The Rams brought Jones back soon enough, placing him on the practice squad three days later. Now, after spending the first three weeks of the season on the practice squad, the same place he spent the final 12 weeks of last season, Jones is one of the Rams’ top 53 for the first time in his career.

    And the timing couldn’t have been better. Back home in Texarkana, Tex., Jones’ parents Sheryl and Nathan Sr. are out of work.

    Nathan was in an automobile accident in 2001 and has been unable to work either of his jobs (he worked in a manufacturing plant and for UPS) since. Sheryl was recently laid off from her job working for the company now known as Reliant energy.

    “When I got the call, the first thing I did was call my parents,” Jones said. “My parents are not working and I am trying to do some things back home for my little brother and things they used to do for me that they can’t do for him right now. It’s a sigh of relief for me and the family.”

    Jones’ brother, Mason is 8 and loves football much like his big brother. With his promotion to the roster, Jones will receive about $13,000 extra per week over what he was making on the practice squad. That money will go a long way toward helping the family back home and especially in support of his little brother.

    This week, Jones is one of three Rams getting his first crack at the 53-man roster after being promoted from the practice squad.

    After the Rams placed receiver Laurent Robinson on the injured reserve list, released defensive tackle Hollis Thomas and linebacker David Vobora was suspended, three openings came up on the roster.

    In response, the Rams went in house, bringing up Jones, defensive tackle Leger Douzable and linebacker Dominic Douglas from the practice squad.

    Like Jones, Douglas spent the preseason and training camp with the Rams and impressed the coaches enough to land a spot on the practice squad.

    Douglas made a strong impression with his special teams work in the preseason and says he took his job on the practice squad seriously so that he would have a chance to perhaps move up if the opportunity arose.

    “After a short while you get adjusted, get settled in and you won’t be jumping around and running around like a chicken with your head cut off,” Douglas said. “You have to go hard every day on the practice squad. That’s the only way to guarantee a spot here. Everything isn’t guaranteed these days so you have to make sure you do everything right, do everything how they want you to do it and do it full speed. That’s the focus and motivation to come in every day and do well on practice squad and hopefully one day you can be fortunate like I was this week.”

    Douzable’s history with the Rams is much shorter, dating to just Sept. 17 when he was signed to the practice squad.

    Having a history of knowledge of Steve Spagnuolo’s defense from their time together in New York, Douzable has caught on quickly.

    In fact, he’s done enough that the team felt comfortable releasing the veteran Thomas in order to give Douzable an opportunity.

    “He is growing like all the young guys are,” defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. “We are getting introduced to some of these new guys here because of our situation. I like him so far. Do I know him as well as the other guys? No, I don’t and that will be a work in progress for me and for him.”

    As for this week’s game, it remains to be seen which of the three will be among the 45 active players on game day. Douglas likely will be for special teams purposes and Douzable could also factor into the rotation on defense.

    Regardless, all three have taken the first step toward making a difference on the field and, especially in Jones’ case, off of it as well.

    “It motivates me to push myself even harder,” Jones said. “You aren’t going to have anything easy. I don’t want anything given to me. It just really helps. It’s a little thing where you can get down on yourself or you can keep pushing yourself. One thing I always do is push myself. I always try to make myself start at the bottom and work my way up to be successful. That’s one thing I strive on. Keep pushing.”

    STRONGSIDE SITUATION: The Rams have not yet made a determination on who will start in place of Vobora on Sunday as the battle for that spot this week unfolded between Larry Grant and Paris Lenon.

    That pair split the repetitions and each brings something different to the table. Lenon has the experience, having started plenty of games for Detroit in recent seasons, while Grant brings some youthful energy to the spot.
    Spagnuolo indicated Friday afternoon that the final decision will be made closer to game time.

    “Nothing has been decided in that building,” Spagnuolo said. “There are two possibilities.”

    CORNERBACK QUESTIONS: Rams cornerback Ron Bartell has been dealing with a quad injury that he first suffered in practice on Sept. 23.

    After playing through it last week, the injury worsened and Bartell has been limited in practice all week. Now, he’s listed as questionable for this week’s game and is in danger of missing the first game of his career because of injury.

    “It’s a situation where last week I probably shouldn’t have played last week,” Bartell said. “We’ll see how I feel on Sunday. It’s kind of limited being able to run full speed. It’s getting better every day. It’s tough to deal with because I have never missed a game before and I don’t really want to miss this game but I don’t want to put us in a bad position where I am not able to go and play well and help this team win.”

    Bartell will be a game time decision and remains hopeful he can take his usual spot out on the corner. Should Bartell be unable to go, Spagnuolo said Justin King would make his first career start.

    Spagnuolo believes that’s a task for which King is prepared.

    “I think he’s done a really good job,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s done a solid job at nickel. All the reps and everything he’s done, he has progressed as a player as a nickel. I thought he had a real good week of practice.”

    BACKING UP: With Boller likely to start against the *****, rookie Keith Null would enter Sunday’s game as the No. 2 signal caller.

    Null took all of the repetitions with the scout team this week and says that can be beneficial in his preparation should he be needed in the game.

    “It definitely helps to get in, be active and just throw the ball,” Null said. “The more you can throw the ball, the better. I feel fine. I am still preparing just like I always have for every game and I am just trying to be ready if they call my name.”

    Null joked with Boller about not throwing his body around after Boller threw a lead block for running back Steven Jackson last week. Null knew he was only a play away from entering his first NFL game then and he is again this week.

    “That’s the thing,” Null said. “As a backup, second, third string it doesn’t matter. Anything can happen in a game and you have to be prepared and ready to go in and do a good job. I feel confident that I could run the game plan and go out there and try to execute and do what they want us to do.”

    Normal starter Marc Bulger was unable to throw Friday but did take some snaps. Spagnuolo said Bulger is questionable and the team is hopeful he could serve as the emergency third quarterback against San Francisco.

    INJURY REPORT: In addition to Bartell and Bulger as questionable, the Rams will be without safety James Butler (knee) who is officially out this week.

    Right tackle Jason Smith (knee) is doubtful and left tackle Alex Barron is probable.

    Adam Goldberg will start for Smith and Craig Dahl will step in for Butler.

    RAM BITS: In tribute to the league’s on going efforts to fight breast cancer, Jackson will wear some pink-tinged gear against the *****, including his cleats…Because of the injury to Robinson, Keenan Burton will move into the starting lineup with Danny Amendola as the No. 3…Ruvell Martin will also likely be active this week.

  • #2
    Re: Jones' Perseverance Pays Off

    Glad it happened to someone who needed it.