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  • Toston has eye on backup RB opening with St. Louis Rams ..

    by Bill Coats

    05/03/2010

    Since taking Steven Jackson in the first round in 2004, the Rams have drafted just two running backs — Brian Leonard in the second round in 2007 and Chris Ogbonnaya in the seventh and final round last year.

    Leonard was traded to Cincinnati in '09 after two generally uneventful seasons with the Rams. Ogbonnaya spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad.

    It's no surprise, then, that the team has struggled to come up with a suitable backup for Jackson. Kenneth Darby has proved little in two years with the Rams, Samkon Gado was let go after the '09 season, and Ogbonnaya doesn't have a large enough body of work — 11 carries for 50 yards — off which to form a judgment.

    So once again, the No. 2 job behind Jackson is open. Of the 15 rookie free agents working out at rookie minicamp this week, two are running backs: Keith Toston of Oklahoma State and DeMaundray "The Diesel" Wooldridge of Idaho.
    Click here to find out more!


    Toston doesn't have a cool nickname. But he probably has the best chance of landing a spot on the team. "This opportunity is one of my dreams," he said, "so I feel pretty good about getting a chance to live it out."

    The 6-foot, 214-pound Toston (pronounced TOAST-un) didn't become a full-time starter until early in his senior season, after All-Big 12 back Kendall Hunter went down with an ankle injury.

    Toston rushed for 1,218 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Cowboys. He also latched on to 25 passes for 261 yards and a TD. He finished his four seasons at OSU — where Pro Football Hall of Famers Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas once toiled — with 3,234 total yards: 2,727 rushing and 507 receiving.

    Toston, who succeeded Hunter on the all-conference squad, felt that he played himself onto several teams' draft boards. "Through the whole operation, I was talking to teams. But it ended up not happening," he said. "So I had to take what they gave me."

    The culprit, Toston suspects, was his pedestrian 40-yard dash time — 4.66 seconds — at the NFL scouting combine. "That could've scared some teams away," he conceded. "But I'm a football player. And the way I play is best shown when I'm wearing pads."

    The Rams haven't seen him first-hand in pads — they're banned at minicamp. Still, Toston got a good look during the three-day, five-practice event and could be invited back for more.

    "Although I'm a free agent, I feel just like a draft pick," Toston said. "Everybody's equal."

    Toston described his style as "almost the same exactly"as Jackson's. "He's a powerful back and he makes moves when he has to. I'm a power runner and I make moves," Toston said. "But only when I have to."

    His best move, he's hoping, was accepting the Rams' free-agent offer. About a half-dozen other teams also were interested, Toston reported.

    "This is where I felt most comfortable coming and the best chance for me to get on the field," he explained. "I'm just a guy that wants to come in and play. Any means necessary: special teams, running back, whatever the coaches feel that they want to put me in on, I'm there."

    RAM-BLINGS

    Under NFL rules, the rookies aren't permitted back at Rams Park until May 17. The first round of organized team activities kicks off May 18. ... Free-agent wideout Nick Moore was the lone casualty at Sunday's practice. He suffered a groin injury that wasn't believed to be serious.

  • #2
    Re: Toston has eye on backup RB opening with St. Louis Rams ..

    Let's hope he puts his money where his mouth is. I'm hoping one of these RB's step up in training camp. I'm not in the least bit a fan of Kenneth Darby but i understand why they kept him as he knows the system and provides workable back-up fodder. I'd keep Ogbonnaya because i like the guy based off of what I've seen, but I've seen enough of Darby to know he's not what I want in a backup (not even including the knockout punch by the ref...). Guys that work their tail off and get up field is what I like in a player.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Toston has eye on backup RB opening with St. Louis Rams ..

      Originally posted by Bralidore(RAMMODE) View Post
      Let's hope he puts his money where his mouth is. I'm hoping one of these RB's step up in training camp. I'm not in the least bit a fan of Kenneth Darby but i understand why they kept him as he knows the system and provides workable back-up fodder. I'd keep Ogbonnaya because i like the guy based off of what I've seen, but I've seen enough of Darby to know he's not what I want in a backup (not even including the knockout punch by the ref...). Guys that work their tail off and get up field is what I like in a player.
      I agree with you 100% bro. Darby is surely not the solution to our hole as a #2 back. Just watching some college highlights, I think Toston fits our style better. Hopefully one of these guys will step up and provide some legimate rest time to Jaxx.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Toston has eye on backup RB opening with St. Louis Rams ..

        what happened to Alex Henderson? the article says there`s two rookie RB`s but none of them were him..

        Toston ain`t afraid to take hits..ive seen some of his plays and there`s shades of Earl Campbell in him...though obviously not as good as Earl.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Toston has eye on backup RB opening with St. Louis Rams ..

          I think everyone can agree that the back up RB slot is wide open. I had high hopes for Gado last year, but he never seemed to be the same after his injury. It's looking like Westbrook won't sign, and even if he did, he would only be good in situational roles with his health. Ogbonnaya shows promise, and I'm not fan of Darby.
          I really hope that one of these rookies takes full advantage of aggressively going after the number two slot. The kid is right, this is the team to do it on.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Toston has eye on backup RB opening with St. Louis Rams ..

            Originally posted by Ramblin` Ram View Post
            what happened to Alex Henderson? the article says there`s two rookie RB`s but none of them were him..
            Henderson was only brought in on a try-out basis. He wasn't signed to a UDFA contract. That may change this week, we'll see. They had 30 people simply trying out without a contract this weekend.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Toston has eye on backup RB opening with St. Louis Rams ..

              Originally posted by RebelYell View Post
              Henderson was only brought in on a try-out basis. He wasn't signed to a UDFA contract. That may change this week, we'll see. They had 30 people simply trying out without a contract this weekend.
              ah rite, he was one of them...cheers.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Toston has eye on backup RB opening with St. Louis Rams ..

                Considering the offense Toston was operating out of at Oklahoma State and his horrific 40x at the combine, I doubt he's much of a prospect for the Rams. Against Oklahoma State, many teams went with 6 DBs to slow the passing attack and that opens massive holes for RBs. If Mizzou fans can remember back to the Cotton Bowl in '07 and Tony Temple going against the Arkansas defense who had 6 DBs in the entire game.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Toston has eye on backup RB opening with St. Louis Rams ..

                  RebelYell

                  I didn't follow OkSt games that much aside from when they played Oklahoma or Texas, but over the last few years they have had a VERY balanced attack. In 2009, their offensive stats were (rushing yards/receiving yards) 2441/2331. In 2008 it was 3191/3149.

                  I can't speak to how their opponents schemed defensively in games, but you cannot characterize the OkSt offense as a pass first, pass often type of approach.

                  That said, one of the issues that I have with Toston is that he didn't seem to really show up in the Big Games. Not sure if that is due to better competition or what but he'll need to change that in order to be at all successful at the next level.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Toston has eye on backup RB opening with St. Louis Rams ..

                    I didn't say they were a pass first offense so stop implying I did.

                    The Cowboys play a very spread out version of the spread offense. That doesn't mean they don't run the ball. Oklahoma State's offensive scheme dictates that they take advantage of the miss matches produced by the offense. Zac Robinson ran 1/2 as many times as Totson. Ever wonder why?

                    Comment

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                    • MauiRam
                      Player Profile: Keith Toston ..
                      by MauiRam
                      By Nick Wagoner
                      Senior Writer

                      Heading in to April’s NFL Draft, running back Keith Toston had plenty of hope that he’d be drafted.

                      While Toston wasn’t certain of his status, he’d been told he’d likely land somewhere in the middle rounds after a strong senior season at Oklahoma State.

                      When that didn’t come to fruition, Toston began sifting through his options for the place that could potentially provide him the best chance to land on a roster. That search ended in St. Louis, as Toston signed a free agent contract with the Rams on April 25.

                      “I was told I’d be a fifth round pick,” Toston said. “I had several teams talking to me while the draft was going on. It ended up not working out the way I wanted it to but I have a great chance here so I am trying to take it and run with it.”

                      In what figures to be one of the more interesting position battles when training camp opens at the end of the month, Toston likely will be one of a handful of running backs competing for a presumed two spots behind starter Steven Jackson.

                      The Rams were unable to add any other backs during the offseason and have Kenneth Darby and Chris Ogbonnaya in place already behind Jackson. With Jackson nursing a back injury during the offseason program, Toston was able to get plenty of opportunities to make an impression, though he was asked to do it without the use of pads.

                      Still, by the time the offseason program was complete, Toston was certain that he had made the right choice for his career.

                      “I had several (teams) that I felt like I would fit in real well with,” Toston said. “I spoke with coach (Sylvester) Croom several times on draft day and prior to that I had spoke with him a lot of times so I had a good feel for him. I felt this was my best opportunity to make the 53 man roster and try to help this ballclub out.”

                      Adjusting to the rigors of the NFL isn’t easy for any rookie coming into a new situation. He must learn a new system and adjust to the speed of the game all while trying to fit into a new locker room.

                      The hardest part of the process according to Toston is learning the nuances of a new offense.

                      “It’s a learning experience,” Toston said. “Terminology is totally different and the competition is a little higher out here. You have to try to learn as much as you can but still move full speed when you are out there on the field. They have gone pretty good. It’s tough getting in and learning all the plays and everything but I feel that I am doing fairly well.”
                      Toston estimated that he spent about 15 hours out of every day either in a meeting, on the practice field, in the weight room or studying in his room. That extra study time is divvied up between retaining the information that’s already been grasped and trying to embrace anything new that has been thrown out him.

                      Of course, the real...
                      -07-08-2010, 09:34 AM
                    • MauiRam
                      Holdovers feel they can fill role of Jackson's backup ..
                      by MauiRam
                      BY BILL COATS
                      05/24/2010

                      From future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk to second-round draftee Brian Leonard to journeymen such as Arlen Harris, Tony Fisher and Antonio Pittman, the Rams for half a decade have strived to find a solid backup for Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson.

                      In general, it's been a futile search. Leonard produced 303 rushing yards in 2007, the highest total among the No. 2 backs. Pittman had 296 in '08 and Faulk 292 in '05. None of the others cracked the 200-yard mark.

                      Meanwhile, Jackson has rolled up a total of 6,034 yards (on 1,414 carries) in his five seasons as the team's marquee back, topping 1,000 yards in each of those seasons. During that period, Jackson has averaged 282.8 carries a year, one of the NFL's heaviest workloads.

                      His carries and yards represent 75.6 percent and 77.2 percent, respectively, of the Rams' ground production by running backs in that span.


                      Now, Jackson is coming off surgery April 15 to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. So, it would seem logical that the Rams would prefer to lessen Jackson's task a bit.

                      The Rams have flirted with former Philadelphia standout Brian Westbrook, a free agent brought in for a physical exam last month. The Rams remain interested, but Westbrook, 30, has a troublesome left knee and also suffered two concussions last season.

                      Two rookie free-agent running backs — Keith Toston of Oklahoma State and DeMaundray Woolridge of Idaho — are among the 96 players participating in organized team activities at Rams Park.

                      But with training camp about two months off, the only other backs on the roster with NFL experience are holdovers from last season, Kenneth Darby and Chris Ogbonnaya.

                      They've heard the pleas for a new face to back up Jackson, and it's possible the Rams will find one when rosters are whittled down in the summer.

                      Still, Darby and Ogbonnaya would like to say: Hey, what about us?

                      "They should all think that way," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "Any back that comes in here should be competing for that" job.

                      "People are going to talk, and I really can't control what people say," said Darby, 5 feet 10 and 219 pounds. "But I can control what I do on the field. When people say that, I don't really pay it any mind. But I do remember it, so when I get my opportunity to go out there, I show people what I'm made of and introduce them to Mr. Kenneth Darby."

                      Last year, Mr. Darby picked up 152 yards on 27 carries and added 96 yards on 18 catches. Ogbonnaya, 6-0 and 225, spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad. But he suited up late in the year and had 50 yards on 11 attempts, plus one reception for 19 yards.

                      That action, scant as it was, "helps a lot," Ogbonnaya said. "When you're just out there...
                      -05-24-2010, 08:40 AM
                    • MauiRam
                      Undrafted rookie sleeper alert: Keith Toston ..
                      by MauiRam
                      From PFT
                      Posted by Evan Silva on July 4, 2010 7:55 PM ET

                      When NFL-caliber talent goes undrafted, it's typically due to an injury or off-the-field issue. Sometimes, though, "one-year wonder" concerns can adversely impact draft stock when a player has not compiled a lengthy track record of success. The one-year wonder concern is especially emphasized when the player performs at an average to below average level during pre-draft workouts.

                      Former Oklahoma State running back Keith Toston did not enter the 2009 college season as a starter, and with no more than 106 carries in any of his first three years was hardly on the radar for NFL scouts. Persistent knee and ankle injuries to star tailback Kendall Hunter vaulted Toston onto the Cowboys' first team, however, and the fifth-year senior capitalized with a Big 12-best 5.4 yards-per-carry average and 1,218 rushing yards, good for second most in the conference.

                      Toston also caught 25 passes. The 9-4 Cowboys went 1-3 in games that Toston received 10 or fewer carries. Toston accumulated 140 or more total yards in five of Oklahoma State's final eight regular season games. The lone constant for a Cowboys offense that played all but three games without star wideout Dez Bryant, Toston earned first-team All-Big 12 accolades.

                      Toston went undrafted in April after running a 4.7 forty at February's Scouting Combine, and following it up with times of 4.6 and 4.62 at the Cowboys' March 10 Pro Day -- a workout that was likely not as populated by NFL officials as it would've been had top OSU prospects Russell Okung, Perrish Cox, and Bryant taken part. Cox was barred from the Pro Day after being suspended for the Cotton Bowl, Bryant was injured, and Okung stood on most of his Combine numbers.

                      Not prone to negative plays as a north-south runner, Toston lost just 12 combined yards on his 227 carries last season. He catches the ball well downfield, displays plenty of "game speed," and exhibits physicality between the tackles. Toston is well built at 6-foot, 213, and runs at enough of an angle that he's not subject to devastating hits.

                      Toston landed with the Rams as a priority free agent. He'll compete with underwhelming holdovers Kenneth Darby and Chris Ogbonnaya to be Steven Jackson's primary backup. Jackson is coming off back surgery and has played just one 16-game season in his career. Toston is a good bet to make St. Louis' 53-man roster, and perhaps even start games if Jackson continues to suffer injuries.
                      -07-05-2010, 01:39 AM
                    • Nick
                      Darby remains Rams' No. 2 running back
                      by Nick
                      Darby remains Rams' No. 2 running back
                      BY BILL COATS • Posted: Saturday, September 11, 2010 12:15 am

                      The offseason buzz made its way to Kenneth Darby: The Rams must bring in a No. 2 running back. Either draft one or pick up a free agent. But get somebody.

                      Darby, who filled that role behind Steven Jackson last year, was unperturbed by the pleas.

                      "Naw, naw," he said, laughing. "If anything, it just gave me more of that hunger to work harder and prove people wrong, show people what I can do."

                      The Rams made a push to sign free agent Brian Westbrook, but he wound up in San Francisco. Then they gave Chris Ogbonnaya, a seventh-round draft pick last year, the first opportunity to earn the job. After teams trimmed their rosters last weekend, the Rams scoured the waiver wire. They signed Allen Patrick but assigned him to the practice squad.

                      So as the Rams head into Sunday's regular-season opener against Arizona, Darby is back in his familiar slot, where he gained 140 yards on 32 carries last season. Keith Toston, an undrafted rookie from Oklahoma State, is the other running back on the 53-man roster. Ogbonnaya was released after an unproductive preseason showing.

                      A healthy Jackson will get a heavy workload. He had 375 touches — 324 carries and 51 receptions — last year in 15 games. But Jackson is coming off back surgery in April, and the Rams have to prepare for all possibilities.

                      "We're fine there," coach Steve Spagnuolo. "You're not going to have at all 22 positions a 1 and a 1A; there's just not enough spots for that. But we've got two solid running backs there that we think can get it done should something happen to Steven."

                      The 5-foot-10, 219-pound Darby, a fourth-year pro out of Alabama, had a sluggish start to the preseason, averaging just 3.1 yards a carry in the first two games. But in the last two, he picked up 74 yards on 19 attempts, a 3.9 average.

                      Darby said that when he changed his thinking, he changed his production.

                      "My mind-set coming into this preseason was getting the No. 2 spot. And I guess I was just thinking about that too much instead of playing my game," he said. "I just said, 'Forget it, just relax, Darby, play your game and let the game come to you.' And that's exactly what I did. I relaxed and started playing my game."

                      Toston, 5-11 and 214, was the team's leading rusher in the preseason, with 127 yards on 39 carries, a 3.3 average.

                      "Toston has really come on — showed he had a little burst," Spagnuolo said. "I like that he's a north-and-south runner."

                      Beating the odds and making the team "is a dream," Toston said. Now he's eager to get into a regular-season game.

                      "Any time you're in this business, you want to play," Toston...
                      -09-10-2010, 11:24 PM
                    • MauiRam
                      Rams' backup RB situation remains worrisome ..
                      by MauiRam
                      Posted July 02, 2010 @ 10:08 a.m. ET
                      By Dan Arkush

                      Needless to say, the Rams have concerns galore coming off a one-win season, and one of the biggest, our sources agree, is the continued lack of a decent complementary running back behind workhorse Steven Jackson. Since selecting Jackson in the first round in 2004, the Rams have drafted only two running backs — Brian Leonard in the second round in '07 and Chris Ogbonnaya in the final round last year. Leonard never panned out and was traded to the Bengals last year, while Ogbonnaya is one of only two veterans currently on the roster — third-year pro Kenneth Darby, who has been ordinary at best, is the other — in the mix to back up Jackson this season after the Rams failed to draft any RB reinforcements this season.

                      Said one team source: "Spags (Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo) said it was no big deal (not drafting a RB), but Jackson is coming off (April 15) back surgery, and you just never know when running backs might hit that wall. It's been two years now that they've had to run Jackson to death, and it just seems very puzzling that they haven't made more of an effort to find a decent backup."

                      The way we hear it, the best backup option at present could be rookie free agent Keith Toston out of Oklahoma State. "I think he's better right now than either Darby or Ogbonnaya," the source said of Toston, whose style is considered very similar to that of Jackson. The Rams have contemplated signing former Eagles star Brian Westbrook, going as far as to bring him in for a physical exam in April. Westbrook would seem to be a no-brainer addition if he were healthy enough, but we hear the two concussions he suffered last season, in addition to a problematic left knee that might not react well to the Rams' playing surface, continue to make him a long shot to be wearing a St. Louis uniform in 2010 — or any team's uniform, for that matter.

                      Well Dan, thanks for stating the obvious, but I doubt Spags and Billy are losing any sleep over acquiring a solid backup for Jackson. Six days from now the Rams will attend Unga's pro day, and if they are underwhelmed by Harvey's performance, then they can turn to the waiver wire and have their pick of any rbs which are released during camp and preseason. If we had to go through the season with our current rbs, there'd be cause for concern. However, that's not the case, and given the way Billy D. and Spags have aggressively turned over the roster they inherited and subsequently infused the team with new talent, I'll not lose any sleep over this either ..
                      -07-02-2010, 11:14 AM
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