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  • Notebook: Wyche Ready For Action With Rams

    NOTEBOOK: Wyche ready for action with Rams
    By BILL COATS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/26/2009

    Although he was drafted 3½ years ago, James Wyche would be seeing action in just his third NFL regular-season game if the Rams decide to suit him up Sunday at Arizona.

    A seventh-round pick by Jacksonville in 2006, Wyche spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad. The 6-foot-5, 279-pound defensive end from Syracuse then missed all of the next two seasons, with a groin injury in 2007 and a torn Achilles' tendon in '08.

    The Achilles' tear "is about the worst injury an athlete can have," said Wyche, 27. "But I've bounced back from there. I'm getting my leg stronger."

    Wyche got into two games this season, recording one tackle, before the Jaguars waived him a week ago. ShopSTL Marketplace

    With Leonard Little unable to get back on the field until his knee heals after an infection was drained, the Rams picked up Wyche on Monday and hustled him into the mix.

    "I've got a good jump on the plays already," Wyche said. "If they have to throw me in there on Sunday, I'm ready."

    Eager, in fact, to start proving himself to his new team.

    "Going out there, showing talent and making plays, that's what it's all about," Wyche said. "It's always good to get a new start."

    LONG ON LEFT SIDE

    Little's absence also has provided Chris Long with extended time on the left side. Normally, Long lines up at right defensive end, his position during most of his college career at Virginia.

    "I think I can do different things from different sides," Long said. "I've got some getting-used-to to do on the left side, but I feel good over there."

    One advantage, he noted, is going against right tackles. Most teams line up their best tackle on the left side, to protect the quarterback's blind side.

    "There is a big difference," Long said. "Right tackles tend to be a little bit less athletic, more maulers. So, that can serve well on pass rush."

    NO QB DECISION

    Even on Christmas Day, with only two reporters in attendance for the 90-minute practice, coach Steve Spagnuolo was handing out no holiday treats — at least when the subject was his starting quarterback vs. the Cardinals.

    "I've talked with both quarterbacks, and I'm going to let them know as soon as I know," he said. "But I'm not going to make any decision right now."

    Still, all signs point to rookie Keith Null for the third Sunday in a row. Again on Friday, Null took the vast majority of the snaps with the No. 1 unit. Kyle Boller did nearly all his work with the scout team.

    "The nice thing is, both of them look healthy," Spagnuolo pointed out. "Kyle looks fine, he looks healthy, so we could use either one. It's nice to know that if one got hurt, you've got another guy that can go in."

    INJURY REPORT

    The injury report contained no surprises: Little, quarterback Marc Bulger (leg), tackle Jason Smith (concussion) and cornerback Quincy Butler (knee, ankle) are out. Running back Steven Jackson (back), who took a few reps at walk-through speed early in practice, is questionable.

    LOTS OF NEW FACES

    Only 36 of the 53 players who made the Rams' active roster out of training camp are still there. That's a hefty 32 percent turnover.

    Twelve of the missing are on injured reserve. Four others were released - linebacker Chris Draft, defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, safety Anthony Smith and guard Richie Incognito - and linebacker Will Witherspoon was traded to Philadelphia for wide receiver Brandon Gibson.

    RAM-BLINGS

    Jackson and Houston safety Bernard Pollard each were fined $5,000 by the NFL for their fourth-quarter scuffle Sunday. Also, Texans cornerback Jacques Reeves was fined $5,000 for grabbing Danny Amendola's face mask during a kickoff return in the second quarter. ... The Cardinals did not practice Friday.

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  • eldfan
    St. Louis Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    St. Louis Rams Team Report

    On a team where there was monumental turnover from last season, coach Steve Spagnuolo often talked in the offseason about the process of building a roster.
    Still, despite the numerous changes and jettisoning of veterans, there was some optimism that the team could improve from the 2-14 season in 2008. However, everyone knew, even if they wouldn't admit it, that the margin of error was slim, depth could be a factor and everything had to go just right, meaning the avoidance of injuries.

    Unfortunately that didn't happen. One week into training camp, wide receiver Donnie Avery and defensive tackle Adam Carriker were injured in a scrimmage. Avery got off to a slow start and Carriker was lost for the season.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger missed several weeks of training camp with a finger injury, and has missed games with a bruised rotator cuff and is currently out because of tibial plateau fracture in his leg.

    Wide receiver Laurent Robinson was establishing himself as a go-to receiver when he suffered a broken fibula in the third game of the season.

    After Sunday's loss to Seattle, Spagnuolo was asked if the team just isn't talented enough. Said Spagnuolo, "I would never say that because I believe in the guys we have there and we'll keep fighting. In this league, anybody can beat anybody on any given Sunday. Are we banged up? Yeah, but that's no excuse for losing and I don't think our guys would use that as an excuse."

    No, players and coaches normally don't use that excuse, but this is a team more than just "banged up."

    In addition to Carriker and Robinson, starters cornerback Bradley Fletcher, defensive tackle Gary Gibson and wide receiver Keenan Burton are on injured reserve. Burton became the starter after Robinson was injured, while Gibson took Carriker's starting spot.

    Through 11 games, 10 starters had missed a total of 48 games. At least 25 games will be added to that from the five starters on injured reserve.

    In preparations for last week's game against Seattle, five offensive players that opened the season as starters weren't practicing: Bulger, running back Steven Jackson, right tackle Jason Smith, right guard Richie Incognito and Robinson. Fullback Mike Karney was also out.

    The Rams played the Seahawks without a true fullback, and during the game, center Jason Brown suffered a knee injury, leading to an offense that stalled in the first four possessions of the second half.

    Just when some continuity was developing in the line, the departure of Brown resulted in Mark Setterstrom sliding from right guard to center and John Greco entering the game at right guard.

    The Seahawks took advantage, and while the offense came to a grinding halt, Seattle built its halftime lead from 14-10 to 27-10.

    Concluded Setterstrom,...
    -12-03-2009, 01:30 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Ramsey Stays Focused After Moving To Rams
    by r8rh8rmike
    Ramsey stays focused after moving to Rams

    BY BILL COATS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/08/2009

    Until his junior year at Dominguez High in Compton, Calif., LaJuan Ramsey dreamed of the Olympics, not the NFL. He was a swimmer, a 50-meter sprinter, but his size — he's 6-feet-3 and 300 pounds — wasn't exactly suited for the pool.

    So he played football his junior and senior years, was a member of two national championship teams at Southern California and is preparing for his fourth NFL season. That he's doing so in St. Louis comes as quite a surprise to the 25-year-old defensive lineman.

    "This is all new to me, within the last 24 hours," Ramsey said Monday after his first practice with the Rams. "I was really expecting to, or working toward, being on the Tennessee Titans."

    But the Titans cut him Saturday, and the Rams grabbed him. They also picked up safety Anthony Smith, who was let go by Green Bay.

    Ramsey was a sixth-round draft pick by Philadelphia in 2006, Steve Spagnuolo's last season as the Eagles' linebackers coach. "One of the things that did impress me, as a rookie, he played both tackle and defensive end," Spagnuolo said. "I thought he did a nice job in the games at Tennessee this year. We'll see how he goes."

    Ramsey, who collected 24 tackles and an interception in 19 regular-season games with the Eagles and Colts, said he was impressed with Spagnuolo, too.

    "He's a good coach," Ramsey said. "I think he probably sees some of the same characteristics in me that he has. He a hard worker and nothing's been given to him. And that's how I feel: Nothing has been given to me in the NFL, and I'm still trying to work hard to receive the playing time, the recognition and just developing as a better player. ... "

    "I'm now focusing on being a Ram and beating the Seahawks" on Sunday in Seattle.

    A. SMITH ALSO ADJUSTS

    While Ramsey was surprised to be released, Smith was shocked. "I thought I performed really well" in the preseason, he said.

    The numbers back him up. The 6-foot, 200-pound Smith, 25, had 12 tackles — fifth among the Packers' defenders — two interceptions and a sack. The former third-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2006 said he believes that the determination to let him go came from the front office.

    "I think it was just (general manager) Ted Thompson's decision; all the coaches were pleased with my performance," Smith said. "Just got to roll with the punches, I guess."

    BULGER STILL ON HOLD

    Quarterback Marc Bulger still hasn't taken a snap under center since breaking the little finger on his right (throwing) hand three weeks ago. "It'll be another 48 hours before we practice again, and the hope is he'll...
    -09-08-2009, 11:11 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Wide Receiver Jordon Kent Ready To Jump In
    by r8rh8rmike
    Wide receiver Jordan Kent ready to jump in
    BY BILL COATS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/19/2009

    Nervous but determined, Jordan Kent approached his father a few years ago, asking, "Will you still love me if I do something?"

    Ernie Kent was shaken. "He thought I was getting married," Jordan recalled, laughing. "I said, 'No, I want to play football.'"

    Because Ernie Kent is the basketball coach at the University of Oregon and Jordan was a member of his squad, you can imagine his initial reaction. "He wasn't really for it at the time," Jordan said, "but he gave his blessing about a week later. He's been one of my biggest fans since then."

    Now, Ernie has a new team to support. Jordan, a 6-foot-4, 219-pound wide receiver, signed a free-agent deal with the Rams on Tuesday. He practiced with his new team for the first time Wednesday.

    "I think on special teams, I'm ready to contribute," Jordan said afterward. "Obviously there's a learning curve at receiver, but ... I'll be ready to go whenever they need me."

    Kent, 25, takes the place on the 53-man roster of second-year wideout Keenan Burton, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday's 28-23 loss to New Orleans at the Edward Jones Dome.

    The Rams brought Kent in for a workout in October. Since then, he said he'd been "patiently waiting" for a call-back. "I've been back in Oregon, working out every day and just staying in shape," Kent said. "I knew I had to be ready at moment's notice."

    Kent was a two-sport star at Winston Churchill High in Eugene, Ore., a member of state-championship squads in basketball and track. He continued in both sports at Oregon, then heading into his junior year decided to add a third.

    "I always wanted to give (football) a shot," Kent said. "I just didn't want to be sitting there 10 years from now thinking shoulda, woulda, coulda. I knew if it didn't work out, I could say, 'Hey, at least I tried it. No hard feelings.'"

    Juggling three sports, as well as earning a degree in business administration, required strict discipline, Kent explained. "You go to bed early and you really don't have much of a social life," he said. "There are some sacrifices, but it was a lot of fun doing all three."

    Kent, a sprinter, was a four-time All-American in track and a defensive specialist in basketball. He was a rank novice when he walked on to the football team.

    Just figuring out how to suit up, with the pads in the right places and the helmet buckled properly, was a challenge initially, he conceded. He saw scant action his first season but started 12 games as a senior, amassing 44 catches for 491 yards and four touchdowns.

    Intrigued by the combination...
    -11-19-2009, 01:17 PM
  • eldfan
    Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo didn't realize the half of it when he reported Monday that quarterback Marc Bulger was "pretty banged up."
    Spagnuolo went on to describe how Bulger had had an MRI in the morning for a hamstring/groin problem, would have baseline testing Tuesday for a potential concussion and would be having another MRI in late afternoon because of some swelling in his knee.

    That left leg MRI revealed that Bulger had a tibial plateau fracture, and he will miss anywhere from three to six weeks. The previous week, it was reported that Bulger had banged his knees, and since no one is able to pinpoint when the fracture occurred, it's possible it might have happened Nov. 15 against the Saints.

    A tibial plateau fracture occurs on the top surface of the tibia or shin bone where it meets the knee. The injury can be more serious if there is displacement or if it affects the middle of the knee or on the inside because of the weight-bearing nature of the bone. The size of the fracture is also important.

    Spagnuolo described the injury as "a hairline fracture" and said it is likely that the injury is to the lateral or outside part of the knee. It isn't out of the question that Bulger could be OK to play in three weeks.

    It appears the Rams' plan is not to place Bulger on injured reserve, even though the team is currently 1-9. Kyle Boller will start Sunday against Seattle, with rookie sixth-round pick Keith Null the backup.

    For this week, the apparent plan is to go with two quarterbacks. If another quarterback is added after this week, it likely would be Brock Berlin, who was with the team in training camp.

    There are also questions about whether Null will be provided an opportunity to play at some point. Bulger's salary is scheduled to be $8.5 million in 2010, and he would count $10.5 million if there is a salary cap next year.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —In his third game for the Rams, wide receiver Brandon Gibson was targeted on 17 Marc Bulger passes, catching five for 61 yards. Afterward, the focus was more on the missed connections than the receptions.

    Asked about miscommunication on a couple of plays, Bulger said, "Yeah, there was more than a couple. I think that's going to happen with a young receiver. I'm not going to put it on him. It's just a matter of us working together. The more time we spend together, the more on the same page we will be."

    Gibson agreed, saying, "My biggest thing is not leaving plays on the field, and that's what I did today. I'm frustrated at myself because I know I can play at a high level. I think we've just got to get on the same page, me and Marc.

    "There were just some things that I did, and we just weren't on the same page there on the goal line. That's two plays that stick out in my head, and I've got to do my best to come...
    -11-25-2009, 09:26 AM
  • eldfan
    Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo always has a single-minded purpose like most coaches as another game approaches. No matter what the record, he is intent on trying to figure out a way to win.
    It's no different this week as the Rams enter the season finale at home against the ***** with a 1-14 record. Spagnuolo had another message this week for the fans he hopes show up.

    The last two home games have had announced attendances under 50,000, the two lowest since the team moved to St. Louis in 1995.

    "Sunday is a special day," Spagnuolo said. "Not only is it the last game, but it is fan appreciation day. We do appreciate the fans that are behind us and that have hung in there in a tough, tough year. It's tough for us, tough for the players, and tough for the fans. Just know that we'll continue to work to try to get this thing straightened out. We're going to do everything we can to win this football game."

    Asked about fans that boo when the team doesn't play well, Spagnuolo said he understands.

    "Absolutely," he said. "I love to have them there. When I was in Philadelphia, of course the Philadelphia fan is a passionate fan. I've always felt good, better, and indifferent. When the fans are there and they're passionate and care, I'm OK with that, I really am. That means they care. I'm OK with that."

    While some fans hope the Rams lose so they will be assured of the first overall pick in the draft, the fans that were there for the Dec. 20 Houston game were cheering for a victory in what turned out to be a 16-13 loss. They weren't thinking about draft picks.

    Worrying about draft picks is nowhere near Spagnuolo's thinking.

    Asked this week if he had given any thought to the draft, Spagnuolo said chuckling, "No. You're way ahead of me there. Way, way ahead of me. No. Absolutely not."

    When it was pointed out that the Rams currently have the first pick in the draft with one less win than Detroit and are "neck and neck" with the Lions, Spagnuolo said, "I'll worry about that in a couple of weeks. We're 'neck and neck' in trying to win a football game this Sunday. I'm knee-deep, or whatever you want to say, in trying to win a game. It's the last one, and we're going to play it to win it."

    The Rams have played a large number of young players this season, and in recent weeks. Rookie guard Roger Allen III will start his first game of his career Sunday, on the left side, in place of the injured Mark Setterstrom. When asked about playing other young players that haven't seen action, he said, "We're going to make all the decisions based on winning the game. Should it head that way for guys like that, that's what we'll do. If not, we won't. It'll still be about winning the game."

    SERIES HISTORY: 120th regular-season meeting. Rams lead, 60-57-2. The...
    -12-31-2009, 11:56 AM
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