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Rookie CB Bradley Fletcher Starting Again

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  • Rookie CB Bradley Fletcher Starting Again

    Rookie CB Bradley Fletcher starting again
    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/17/2009

    When it comes to interacting with the media, Rams rookie cornerback Bradley Fletcher may be the quietest player on the team, to the point of being shy. Perhaps it's only fitting, then, that Fletcher quietly has moved into the starting lineup ahead of Jonathan Wade at right corner.

    Beginning with the Green Bay game Sept. 27, Fletcher began rotating with Wade at cornerback, but with Wade still getting most of the work. Fletcher again came off the bench Oct. 4 in San Francisco, rotating in and out of the game with Wade.

    But last Sunday against Minnesota, it was Fletcher — a third-round draft pick from Iowa — making his first NFL start.

    "I was just happy to get an opportunity to get out on the field, and go ahead and play," Fletcher said.

    Nervous?

    "I was fine," Fletcher said. "It's just football. It's a good time."

    Fletcher is scheduled to start again this week against Jacksonville, once again ahead of Wade, who was given the first crack at the vacancy created in the lineup when Tye Hill was dealt to Atlanta for a seventh-round draft pick Sept. 1.

    "You roll with the punches," Wade said. "I just play. When they tell me to go left, I go left. They tell me to go right, I go right."

    Even though Wade's role has diminished, coach Steve Spagnuolo indicated that the time-share will continue at that position. During the regular season, it's highly unusual for teams to rotate cornerbacks during a game. But Spagnuolo said he has done it before as an assistant coach.

    "I think it's important to keep those guys playing, in my opinion," Spagnuolo said. "Everyone is an ankle turn away from being a starter in a game. So when and if maybe that happens, it's 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. ... It's happened at linebacker. If you guys noticed, Paris (Lenon) and Larry Grant rotated a little bit (against Minnesota). It's good to have a lot of guys involved, I think."

    Fletcher has suffered through some "rookie orientation" moments in his early work at cornerback. The first time he rotated in for Wade this season — against Green Bay — Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went right at him, completing a 46-yard pass to Donald Driver (despite a pass interference flag against Fletcher). On the next play, Rodgers completed a 12-yard completion on a slant pattern. Those plays set up Green Bay's first touchdown, giving the Packers a 16-0 lead en route to a 36-17 victory.

    Against Minnesota, Brett Favre completed a 47-yard pass to Sidney Rice against Fletcher that set up a third-quarter Minnesota touchdown and a 24-3 lead.

    "I know people are just going to remember the long pass," Spagnuolo said, referring to the Favre-to-Rice collaboration. "But what I want people to take away from that is that Bradley Fletcher was stride for stride (with Rice). ... That's what I see. Now, we do have to work on some things that will not lead either to a catch on their part or a (Rams) penalty. And we'll get there."

    According to STATS LLC, Fletcher has a "burn rate" of 83.3 percent this season. In other words, opponents have completed five of six passes thrown his way (for 139 yards). Meanwhile, Wade has a burn rate of 68.8 percent. Opponents have completed 11 of 16 passes against him (for 132 yards).

    In theory, Fletcher fits the mold of what Spagnuolo wants at cornerback. He has good size (6-0, 198 pounds), long arms, and the potential to be an effective "press" corner, jamming wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.

    "He's got the kind of frame that you like," defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. "Bradley's got a lot of upside. He's a guy that's got reasonable deep speed. For as much as (the Rams) press, a lot of times people will have a tendency to take shots down the field on you.

    "He's very good at the line of scrimmage. Now, he's got a lot to learn. But he's grown. We're just trying to make sure that he's on a natural progression to continue to get better and better."

  • #2
    Re: Rookie CB Bradley Fletcher Starting Again

    Nice to see our first three picks all making early impacts on the team. It's the kind of results we need around here, after so many disappointing drafts.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rookie CB Bradley Fletcher Starting Again

      I'm really happy about Spags approach to playing players with the rotations. His rotation system he does is not common with many coaches and its a shame because it gives a lot of guys opportunities to play rather than having a set starting lineup and guys who just bench and possibly do special teams. He gives the vast majority of our roster a chance to play and thats great for the opportunities everyone has to make a impact in games.

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      • MauiRam
        Bradley Fletcher thrives in Rams’ 14th-ranked defense ..
        by MauiRam
        BY BILL COATS • Friday, December 10, 2010 12:10 am

        At 6 feet and 198 pounds, Rams cornerback Bradley Fletcher was giving up 3 inches and 20 pounds last Sunday to Arizona's Pro Bowl wideout, Larry Fitzgerald. But that didn't stop Fletcher from muscling his way past Fitzgerald and into position to pick off a pass late in the third quarter.

        The interception, a team-high third for Fletcher this year, led to a field goal in the Rams' 19-6 victory. Still, you won't see the reserved Fletcher hopping around the field in self-celebration. That's not his style.

        "I'm just trying to make the plays that come my way," he said.

        Despite a couple of glitches along the way, Fletcher is becoming a mainstay on a Rams defense that ranks 14th in the 32-team NFL after finishing 29th a year ago.

        "He's one of those guys that goes a hundred miles an hour every single snap, all the time," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "It doesn't matter whether it's in practice or in the weight room or whatever."

        A third-round draft pick out of Iowa in 2009, Fletcher by the fifth game of his rookie season had ousted veteran Jonathan Wade from the first-team lineup. Fletcher was making just his third start on Oct. 25, 2009, when he tumbled awkwardly to the Edward Jones Dome turf after breaking up a deep sideline pass from Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning intended for wide receiver Pierre Garçon.

        Two knee ligaments were torn, and two operations were needed to repair the damage. The prognosis was that Fletcher wouldn't be back for at least a year.

        But just like his uncompromising interception vs. Fitzgerald, Fletcher was having none of that.

        Road to recovery

        Fletcher was a constant presence in the training room at Rams Park, where he endured a grueling rehab regimen. It was tedious and painful, Fletcher acknowledged.

        "It was a long process ... a lot of weights, a lot of treatment," he said.

        By the second preseason game, vs. Cleveland on Aug. 21, Fletcher was ready to go, at least two months sooner than forecast.

        And when the season opened Sept. 12 against the Cardinals, Fletcher was right back where he was before he was injured — with the first-team defense.

        But Fletcher wasn't the same raw youngster. While he was sidelined, he attended meetings and studied film, trying to pick up as much as he could to better prepare himself for his second season.

        "I was able to learn a lot from last year to this year, just knowing where your help's coming from and how we're doing some things on defense in our schemes," Fletcher said. "That's helping me out right now."

        Fletcher is an enthusiastic student, veteran cornerback Ron Bartell emphasized.

        "You get a lot of younger guys, they think...
        -12-10-2010, 12:45 AM
      • Alec22
        Bradley Fletcher
        by Alec22
        Seems to me whenever he takes the field teams immediatly throw to him (usually deep) much like wade and hill in the past when they would take the field for 3 plays, give up 3 catches then right back to the bench.

        Am I off here? Is he actually playing well and Im nitpicking or is he only on the field because king and quincy butler, and wade are hurt (are they?)
        -10-13-2009, 01:50 PM
      • MauiRam
        Bradley Fletcher ...
        by MauiRam
        Since it's the off-season, I thought if might be fun to check out some articles spotlighting our third rd pick ..


        Bradley Fletcher keeps a low profile, and doesn’t say much—but does so in an articulate manner.
        by Scott Dochterman

        In many ways, Fletcher’s play at cornerback reflect his outward impression.

        He’s confident, assertive, and talented. His personal drive, combined with physical skills and a solid work ethic have parlayed Fletcher into one of the fastest risers in this year’s NFL draft.

        It also could land the former Iowa defensive back a spot in the first three rounds this weekend.

        “He’s a guy that we kind of call one of the sleepers in this draft,” said Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads Scouting Service, LLC. “He’s got loose hips, he’s smooth in transition. We’re going to give a third- or fourth-round grade at the very worst. We think he should be a third-round guy.”

        Fletcher, 22, has been one of Iowa’s most traveled players in recent weeks. He has met with multiple NFL teams, including the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. He said he’s worked on his speed and quickness since the end of Iowa’s football season, and the results are proven.

        Fletcher ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at the NFL Combine in February. He shaved off a little more time at Iowa’s pro day last month, running it in 4.44 seconds. He’s a good-sized cornerback, slightly taller than six feet and weighing nearly 200 pounds.

        Shonka grades Fletcher 14th among cornerbacks, but he’s the second-tallest among those players. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. lists Fletcher ninth among cornerbacks and has Jacksonville selecting him in the third round.

        Fletcher’s draft stock soared with East-West Shrine Bowl in January. He recorded six tackles — including three solo — and he broke up one pass. His play and athletic ability launched him into the discussion as a potential man-to-man NFL cornerback.

        “He was at least one of the best corners, if not the best corner there,” Shonka said. “He played really fast, he was impressive when he drives on the ball. The thing that was impressive about him at the combine was his ability to turn and run. That is supposed to correlate with your 40 time. A lot of guys didn’t run the drill real well, and Fletcher, his times were like 4.47, which obviously correlated with his 40 time.

        “His back peddle turn and run was 4.46 and 4.46 which is outstanding. Plus he’s got long arms and can leap. His runs were real smooth in his turns. He’s very athletic.”

        Fletcher started 17 games for Iowa, including all 13 his senior season. He recorded 152 tackles, including 60 last year. He had three interceptions last season and 10 pass breakups. He totaled five interceptions and 17 breakups in his Iowa career.

        “You...
        -06-09-2009, 09:55 AM
      • tomahawk247
        Dockery will start in front of Bradley Fletcher
        by tomahawk247
        just seen this on the Rams FB feed. Anyone know a reason for this?
        -11-14-2010, 01:09 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Fletcher Earning More Opportunities
        by r8rh8rmike
        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...
        -10-16-2009, 01:46 PM
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