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  • Fletcher Earning More Opportunities

    Fletcher Earning More Opportunities
    Friday, October 16, 2009


    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Watching as fellow rookies James Laurinaitis and Jason Smith have made starts at middle linebacker and right tackle, respectively, cornerback Bradley Fletcher had been biding time and working hard in an attempt to join them in the starting lineup.

    Finally, in game No. 5, the third-round selection joined the two players drafted above him against Minnesota last week.

    “We wanted to give Bradley a chance; he had done some things in previous games,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “There is always going to be competition at all these spots and he got his chance (Sunday). When the defensive coaches and I sit down more, we’ll decide where to go from here based on performances and then we will decide how we go and again we have a bunch of guys at corner I think that can play for us.”

    After the preseason trade of Tye Hill to Atlanta for a draft pick, Jonathan Wade was elevated to the starting spot in his place. But even at that time, Spagnuolo emphasized that he wanted to see continued competition at the spot opposite Ron Bartell if for no other reason than to accelerate the learning curve of the team’s young corners.

    Fletcher has been an active participant in that competition, improving his game on a weekly basis and regularly looking to Spagnuolo for extra guidance.

    Drafted in the third round of this year’s draft, Fletcher fits the bill of what a cornerback in Spagnuolo’s system should be. At 6 foot and nearly 200 pounds, Fletcher has the size and reach to become a prototype press corner.

    And though he’s had some growing pains along the way in his early development – even in last week’s game against Minnesota, Fletcher has competed in a way that bodes well for his future.

    “I know people are just going to remember the long pass and all that, but what I want people to take away from that is that Bradley Fletcher was stride for stride (with the wideout on a long completion),” Spagnuolo said. “That is what I see. Now, do we have to work on some things that will not lead to either a catch on their part or a penalty? Yeah. And we will get there but the other side of the corner would be people were running by us and that didn’t happen. It is certainly correctable.”

    Spagnuolo isn’t prepared to call anyone a starter but said he will continue to use a variety of players at a number of positions, and did say Friday that Fletcher has earned another start this week against Jacksonville. It’s a practice he’s used since his days in Philadelphia as a defensive backs coach.

    “We feel like we have some quality guys there; guys who have experience, guys who can play,” Spagnuolo said. “They are all playing. I think it is important to keep those guys playing, in my opinion. Everybody is an ankle turn away from being a starter in the game so when, and if maybe that happens, it is always nice to have some plays under your belt. I kind of like it; we’ve got tackles rotating, we’ve got defensive ends rotating, corners rotating.”

    AN OLD FRIEND: The Rams got a little used to seeing one of their all time greats in a different uniform last year when they saw Isaac Bruce move on to the *****.

    On Sunday, that feeling will come back when they see Torry Holt in Jacksonville’s black and teal uniforms.

    “It will be different,” quarterback Marc Bulger said. “I didn’t realize how different it was going to look last year when I saw Isaac Bruce in San Francisco just because his body type didn’t look right in that uniform. Working with those guys for eight years, I kind of know what they look like in a uniform. To see a different one on it’s just going to be odd. It will be good to see him though. I haven’t seen him in six months or so.”

    Bulger is among one of many Rams that still keeps in touch with Holt. Running back Steven Jackson credits Holt with showing him how to be a professional, same for safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and cornerback Ron Bartell.

    Defensive end Leonard Little knows Holt as well as anyone.

    “He’s a great friend,” Little said. “We are both from North Carolina and we kept track of each other when we were in college and high school and stuff like that so he’s a great friend of mine. He’s still doing well and catching balls and stuff like that so he’s doing the things that Torry does.”

    The Rams and Holt parted ways early in the offseason after 10 years together. Holt says he wouldn’t trade his decade in St. Louis for anything after he won a Super Bowl and went to seven Pro Bowls as a Ram.

    “I spent a lot of time up there with you guys, a lot of memories, a lot of relationships built. To be able to see the people I built those with and shared a lot of time with and be able to see them for the short amount of time, it will be emotional,” Holt said. “I’m just going to ride the wave. I’m just going to ride the wave and take it as it comes and enjoy it.”

    Holt also wanted to make a point to thank the fans in St. Louis for their support throughout his time in the Gateway City.

    “I’m mostly happy and proud that I was able to play in front of the fans there in St. Louis who treated me and my family so well,” Holt said. “St. Louis will always be dear to me. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Rams as well as the city of St. Louis and the fans there.”

    BATTLE OF CAVS: Entering Sunday’s game, Jacksonville boasts the youngest tackle tandem in the league, starting a pair of rookies as the bookends in the form of Eben Britton and first-round pick Eugene Monroe.

    In many cases, it can be hard to prepare for players you have never seen, even if they are rookies. But in the case of Monroe, the man that lines up across from him regularly on Sunday is someone who knows him very well.

    Rams defensive end Chris Long played with Monroe at the University of Virginia and practiced against him almost every day in practice.

    Monroe has had some ups and downs in his first season, missing some time with illness. Monroe and Long are still good friends and will renew acquaintances in Jacksonville.

    “We keep in touch,” Long said. “He text me (Wednesday). We probably won’t talk about the game because we don’t want to have to deal with that until it happens on Sunday but he’s a great player, I’m sure he’s doing good things there. I’m beginning to watch some of the things on those guys. They have a good offensive line all together with guys like Tra Thomas and good young guys like him and the other tackle (Eben Britton) so it’s going to be an interesting challenge.”

    INJURY REPORT: The Rams will likely be without safety James Butler (knee) and receiver Ruvell Martin (hamstring) this week. Butler did not participate in Friday’s practice and Martin was limited. Neither did much in practice this week to indicate they will be ready to go this weekend. Both are listed as doubtful.

    Safety Anthony Smith was limited and he is questionable against the Jaguars. He would likely serve as the backup to Craig Dahl, who will replace Butler in the lineup again at strong safety. Smith is listed as questionable.

    Quarterback Kyle Boller (concussion) has been fully cleared to go and he will be the backup to starter Marc Bulger against the Jaguars.

    Defensive ends C.J. Ah You and Leonard Little came down with illnesses last night and were sent home as a precaution today.

    “I haven’t been led to be concerned,” Spagnuolo said. “I didn’t see them today. I trust the doctors that if there’s anything that might spread to the rest of the team (to take care of it). I think that’s smart right now.”

    RAM BITS: Spagnuolo said Adam Goldberg would get the start at right tackle as Jason Smith continues to work his way back from a knee injury…Spagnuolo also said Smith would work his way back into the mix this week and get some time in the game…The Rams practiced outside for the first time this week on Friday.

  • #2
    Re: Fletcher Earning More Opportunities

    *Cough* Told you so. *Cough*

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Fletcher Earning More Opportunities

      Originally posted by RamsFan16 View Post
      *Cough* Told you so. *Cough*
      Heh!! When I read the title of this thread my first thought was that we'll definitely be hearing from RamsFan16. ;)

      And here he is!


      WHAT SAY YE?

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      • BEER
        Great article.
        by BEER
        Training camp - news

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        Posted about 19 hours ago
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        With Spagnuolo at the helm, Rams embrace physical style of play

        By Steve Wyche | NFL.com
        Senior Writer



        EARTH CITY, Mo. -- It's nearly a week into training camp, when players start to wear down as the physical and mental overload start to grab hold. After reading and hearing about how hard first-year coach Steve Spagnuolo was pushing the team, it wouldn't have been surprising to see the Rams simply grind through things Thursday. And with a scrimmage on Friday, watching guys on cruise control was what I expected. So did Spagnuolo.
        "I was waiting for it," he said.
        Instead, the Rams staged one of the most aggressive, fast-paced, physical practices I've seen in years. There was non-stop live tackling, full-bore hitting in nearly every drill and a tempo that forced every player and coach to be attentive because, at any moment, Spagnuolo could call for a special teams intervention.
        "How can you tell if a guy can tackle? How can you tell if a running back can break a tackle," Spagnuolo said about putting his team through "live" workouts.
        The interesting thing, players seemed to embrace the demanding workload.
        "Spags is trying to change this whole mentality," rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "This will be a physical team. We're not just going to talk it. We're going to go out there and do it and practice what we preach. If you're not going to be able to be physical, you're not going to be here."
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        Working in Spagnuolo's favor is the fact that the Rams are such a young group, most players don't realize that the majority of teams don't get after it consistently the way St. Louis has in training camp. There are 23 players on the 80-man roster who are 23 or younger. There are only four players over 30.
        Besides establishing a physical tone, Spagnuolo said he believes players need to hit early in training camp because starters play so little in the preseason.
        "I've always believed that if you don't get it done at some point, you'll be behind when the season starts," Spagnuolo said.
        "Spags, he is definitely challenging us," said center Jason Brown, who signed as a free agent from Baltimore....
        -08-07-2009, 03:25 PM
      • ZiaRam
        Time for Someone to Step Up
        by ZiaRam
        by Howard Balzer

        As coach Steve Spagnuolo read the long list of injuries that had hit the Rams in Sunday's season opener, my mind drifted to a game in San Francisco in 2002 when the Rams were spanked by the *****.

        I recalled an impressive list of inactive players for that game, but, of course, wasn't sure of them all. So, I dug out my gamebooks from that season and sure enough, there it was in black and white.

        Six starters were inactive that day, and they were no slouches: Quarterback Kurt Warner, left tackle Orlando Pace, fullback James Hodgins, cornerbacks Aeneas Williams and Dexter McCleon, and linebacker Tommy Polley.

        The result was a 37-13 loss, as the Rams fell to 0-5 on the season. Warner had injured his hand the previous week against Dallas. In that loss to the *****, quarterback Jamie Martin got banged around, clearing the way for Marc Bulger to make the first start of his career the next week against the undefeated Oakland Raiders.

        It turned out to be the beginning of the end of Warner's career in St. Louis, as Bulger helped the Rams upset the Raiders and get the season back on track.

        That will be the charge of Spagnuolo as he might be spending as much time in the trainer's room this week as in meeting rooms and the practice field.

        As disappointing as injuries can be to all of a coach's best-laid plans, the reality is there are no pity parties in the National Football League. As Spagnuolo said Monday when asked how difficult it might be to lose cornerback Ron Bartell for the season, "You lose anybody for the season, anybody on our 53, certainly in the top 22, it's a blow. But I would venture to guess that if we looked around the league there's other teams going through the same thing. Like I told the team in there, just get a fox-hole mentality, get in there, regroup, get the next guy up and come out of the hole fighting. That's what we'll do."
        That's all they can do.

        While admitting the day-after injury report was the worst of any game since he's been with the Rams, Spagnuolo added, "There's a lot there no question. Like I say, that's why we have 53 guys, guys are going to have to step up there and play. I think you heard a couple of guys make the comments earlier that nobody's going to bury their head in the sand. We're not going away. We have 15 games. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We didn't envision starting like that. We certainly didn't envision losing all these guys, but between the coaching staff, personnel staff, the players just find a way to rally and go play."

        There were those that wondered if the lockout might be contributing to injuries. Said Spagnuolo, "That's hard for me. I can't go there on that. I don't know." He then added, "When you really look at it, I thought the coaches, I thought the way we structured the practices, I thought that Reggie (trainer Reggie...
        -09-13-2011, 02:44 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Spagnuolo "Very, Very, Very Happy" With Rams' Energy
        by r8rh8rmike
        10.14.2009 4:29 pm
        Spagnuolo “very, very, very happy” with Rams’ energy
        By Bill Coats
        St. Louis Post-Dispatch


        Coach Steve Spagnuolo was almost giddy after Wednesday’s practice, the first for the St. Louis Rams since a 38-10 home loss to the Vikings on Sunday dropped them to 0-5.

        “I was very, very, very happy about the energy today,” Spagnuolo said. “I thought the guys came out with a lot of energy, which is a good thing. It’s a credit to them, and I certainly appreciate it.”

        Still, as defensive end Chris Long pointed out, the winless Rams don’t have a lot of options as they try to dig out of their 0-5 hole.

        “You don’t really have a choice but to keep grinding away,” Long said. “Continuing to work hard and try to keep going up, that’s the only way we can do it. Build on the little things that we’re doing well and try to make those things big things.

        “It’s no different than any other week. We’re trying to get that win, just the same as if we were 5-0.”

        Notes & quotes:

        *QB Marc Bulger took all the reps with the first-team offense and reported afterward that he was “on course” to start Sunday in Jacksonville. Bulger had been out with a bruised shoulder.

        *Kyle Boller, who started in Bulger’s spot the past two games, passed his neuro exam and ran the scout team at practice. Spagnuolo said Boller will be retested Friday, just to be sure he’s OK to back up Boller vs. the Jaguars.

        *T Jason Smith (knee), S James Butler (knee), CB Justin King (knee) and S Anthony Smith (Achilles’ tendon) were limited. WR Ruvell Martin (hamstring) did not practice.

        *This week’s captains are C Jason Brown (offense), CB Ron Bartell (defense) and long-snapper Chris Massey (special teams).

        *LaJuan Ramsey took the bulk of the first-team snaps in the defensive tackle spot that opened when Gary Gibson broke his left ankle Sunday. Gibson, who has been placed on injured reserve, had successful surgery Tuesday, Spagnuolo reported.

        *WR Sean Walker, a member of the practice squad, played the role of ex-Rams WR Torry Holt on the scout team. Holt is the Jaguars’ leading receiver, with 22 catches for 306 yards.

        All for now…
        -10-14-2009, 11:54 PM
      • MauiRam
        Little still sees himself as an every down player ..
        by MauiRam
        Aug. 2, 2009

        The Associated Press.
        ST. LOUIS (AP) -Leonard Little feels he's much more than a third-down pass rusher for the St. Louis Rams.

        After Sunday morning's full-pad practice at Rams Park, Little insisted he still can be an every-down defensive end.

        "I'll always be an everyday player if I'm healthy," Little said. "I don't know where people get this thing where, you know, that I'm just a third-down player. I've been playing every down since I've been starting."

        But with a new coaching staff headed by Steve Spagnuolo, Little knows things have changed. All he has to do is look around.

        Little is the only player left from the 1999 and 2001 Super Bowl teams, surviving three coaching changes. The 34-year-old, who was a third-round draft pick in 1998, is heading into his 12th season.

        "It's tremendously valuable to have that kind of experience and leadership," Spagnuolo said. "It's an important position on defense."

        Little acknowledged it's strange not to have Torry Holt and Orlando Pace - both released in recent months - around anymore.

        "I miss the guys," Little said. "You know, we won a lot of games together and we went through a lot of stuff together. It's different because you're used to being around those guys for so long. It takes a little time to get used to it but you've got to realize this is the NFL and stuff like that will happen. You have to adjust to it the best way you can and go out here and play regardless of what happens."

        Admitting he was nervous it could happen to him, Little said he was prepared for whatever happened.

        "You never know what's going to happen next," said Little, who is in the last year of a renegotiated contract he signed in 2006. "I knew I could be next."

        He didn't need to worry though. Spagnuolo liked what he saw from Little on tape and wanted to keep him.

        "In all the evaluations we did, he was part of the plan," Spagnuolo said. "So far, so good."

        The Rams recently signed defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, who turned 35 in January. That move made Little happy.

        "I'm not the oldest guy on the team no more so that's good," Little said laughing. "I told him he could be the grandpa around here."

        Little had six sacks and two forced fumbles to go along with 18 tackles, but played hurt for the second straight season last year. A hamstring injury slowed him, and he didn't start in the season finale at Atlanta. He also sat out during the minicamps.

        He's healed now and ready to go for the upcoming season.

        "I'm fine," Little said. "I'll be fine as long as I keep my body in good condition and stay injury free. I'll do anything they want...
        -08-02-2009, 11:57 PM
      • mikhal5569
        Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year
        by mikhal5569
        Spagnuolo has Rams on right track.


        Don Banks. SI.com
        First-year Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has*team on right track - Don Banks - SI.com
        ST. LOUIS -- One of my favorite things to do on an NFL training camp tour is to visit a team that features a rookie head coach, as the Rams do this year after hiring ex-Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo this offseason. Though I'm usually blowing through camp in a day or so, you can often learn a lot from watching those early days of a new regime, seeing whether or not the veterans on that team are buying what the new guy is selling, and seeing a first-time coach in the process of finding out who he can and can't count on.
        True, trying to take an accurate temperature reading of an organization's new program after interviewing a handful of players for a matter of minutes is your basic snap judgment, writ large. It's far from foolproof. But sometimes it can be dead on.
        For example, after stops at both the Falcons and Ravens training camps last summer, I came away believing that rookie head coaches Mike Smith and John Harbaugh both had a pretty good handle on what it was going to take to turn Atlanta and Baltimore around, and that they had already put the wheels in motion. It's not that I saw 11-5 seasons coming for both, far from it. But I did see two teams that were in the process of fully buying into Smith and Harbaugh's approaches, and I sensed it would pay dividends at some point.
        In an inverse way, the same was true for the 2007 Falcons, who I also paid a camp visit to, in order to discover what the new Bobby Petrino era was all about in Atlanta. One day there and I had the feeling trouble was on way for the Birds that season, thanks largely to the degree of skepticism I heard coming from key Atlanta veterans. And you know how that story turned out: Petrino's rookie season was his only NFL season, as his 13-game tenure was a debacle of epic proportion.
        All that said, I'm ready to make the call that Spagnuolo seems like the right man for the job that faces his downtrodden Rams. While their NFL-worst 5-27 record the past two years breeds a certain amount of willingness to follow anyone with a plan, the Rams convinced me that Spagnuolo has been pitch perfect so far in his make-over efforts in St. Louis.
        "I was talking to someone in the locker room two days ago, and I said, 'He hasn't told us a lie yet,' '' Rams second-year defensive end Chris Long told me Thursday afternoon, after another two-a-day practice was in the books. "Everything he's said has been on point. I thought we bought into Spags the minute he walked in the door. I had never heard him talk or seen him before, but I knew where he had been, and that resume spoke for itself. On top of that, he's a man who treats people with respect, and when he speaks, guys listen and really embrace his notion of respecting team.''
        Watching Spagnuolo work a practice is like watching...
        -08-09-2009, 07:52 AM
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