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Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

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  • Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    For a 10-year NFL veteran, the idea of putting on the pads and trudging through another long practice in the burgeoning summer heat might be less favorable than a visit to the dentist.

    For newly added offensive lineman Hank Fraley, there’s nowhere he’d rather be.

    “It’s a dream come true for me every year,” Fraley said. “So each year I treat it like it’s my first and it could be my last. I just love football and being around the guys and playing so I just try to bring that energy and if I am down, I hope there are guys I can lean on to get me up. But I try to be positive every day. It’s a job but it’s fun.”

    Fraley says he has been playing football since he was 6 and now, at 32, he still plays with the same childlike enthusiasm that has carried him through an accomplished NFL career.

    When the Rams went searching for some depth on the interior of their offensive line during the free agent signing period, they had hoped to find someone with the versatility to play all three interior spots.

    It was considered a bonus if they could find someone who combined that versatility with the experience and leadership skills to help out their many young linemen.

    Enter Fraley, who fit the bill and then some. On March 12, the Rams signed Fraley to a three-year contract after he spent the previous four seasons with Cleveland. The idea was to bring in someone capable of backing up Jason Brown at center and compete for a possible starting job at guard.

    In just a couple of months and four organized team activities, Fraley has already done much more than that, according to coach Steve Spagnuolo.

    “Here he is a veteran guy and he’s working with the second and third (team) once in a while and doesn’t complain one bit,” Spagnuolo said. “I will watch him rallying those young guys together like in the two minute drill, pumping guys up. We need that.”

    Not that Spagnuolo or offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is even remotely surprised by what Fraley brings to the table.

    In fact, it was the presence of Spagnuolo and Shurmur in St. Louis that helped sway Fraley from some other potential landing spots when he embarked on free agency.

    Fraley spent the first six years of his career in Philadelphia where Spagnuolo was coaching defensive backs and linebackers and Shurmur was tutoring quarterbacks.

    Although neither Spagnuolo nor Shurmur coached Fraley’s position, they both formed a relationship with the young lineman.

    “I had a good relationship with those guys even though they didn’t coach my position,” Fraley said. “I liked their attitude and I always felt they were great and would go somewhere and do bigger things and that’s what they are doing here. When I got here it was just like seeing those guys again was like they had been coaching me all my career.”

    Of course, the respect went both ways considering the way Fraley came to become a valuable contributor on many successful Eagles teams.

    Fraley entered the league as an undrafted free agent, signing with Pittsburgh in April of 2000 after spending his college career playing left tackle at Robert Morris.

    The Steelers asked Fraley to move inside to center where he immediately began learning under one of the game’s all time greats in Dermontti Dawson. Dawson openly embraced Fraley and all of the young linemen, something Fraley always remembers now that he’s in position to do some mentoring of his own.

    “When I got into this league, Dermontti Dawson was the Steelers center and he had his door wide open for anything I needed or questions,” Fraley said. “I kind of embraced that and that’s how I leave my door open for any of these guys, especially the young guys. I was young once and know how it feels.”

    While Fraley was unable to catch on with the Steelers, the Eagles claimed him off waivers in August of 2000. After landing on the pregame inactive list for every game that season, Fraley pushed his way into the lineup in just his second season, starting 15 games and playing nearly every offensive down.

    In 2005, Fraley suffered a shoulder injury eight games into the season that cost him the rest of the year. It was the only injury of note during Fraley’s remarkably durable career. After spending those six seasons in Philadelphia as the starting center, Fraley was traded to Cleveland before the 2006 season.

    For the Browns, Fraley started every game in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Suddenly, last season, he was asked to shift over to guard. It was a new experience but one that Fraley enjoyed.

    “I got thrown in there at guard and really enjoyed it,” Fraley said. “It was just something that was totally different. It was like being a rookie again. I don’t mind it at all.”

    All told, Fraley has started 123 of the 135 games he’s played in the NFL. He’s started 10 postseason games including Super Bowl XXXIX with Philadelphia.

    In coming to St. Louis, it hasn’t taken long for Fraley to fit in. In addition to his previous relationship with Spagnuolo and Shurmur, Fraley is extremely familiar with a system nearly identical to the one he played in while with the Eagles.
    Fraley says his fellow linemen, including locker room ringleader and resident example setter Adam Goldberg, have been quick to welcome him into the fold.

    As for Fraley’s role, he has made it clear that he is comfortable and capable doing whatever is asked of him. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s willing to stand back and just accept a backup role.

    Fraley has worked mostly as the backup to Brown at center but is continuing to work at guard as part of what figures to be a battle for one of the starting guard jobs with the likes of Goldberg, Mark Setterstrom, John Greco and Roger Allen III.

    Along the way, Fraley is making sure to provide as much guidance as he can, even for the players with whom he’s directly competing.

    “I just try to lead by example when I go out there. I can get vocal but I am not a vocal type of guy,” Fraley said. “I am more of a do it myself guy and hope the guys follow me. I try to keep guys up and say let’s get it going. If it’s a dropped ball, you have got another one coming your way. I try to stay positive out there and I guess I have been that way my whole career.”

    As for how long that love of grinding through difficult practice sessions and even more daunting NFL seasons will last, Fraley doesn’t see it coming to an end anytime soon.

    When the day comes that Fraley doesn’t enjoy something as simple as an OTA in May, that’s when he’ll know his time has come and he can go pursue the other things he enjoys in life.

    “If I get to that point and hopefully it’s not this year or next year or in three years but if I get to that point, that’s when I need to say it’s time to retire when I am just out here like what am I doing this for?” Fraley said. “Right now, I just enjoy the game. I don’t know what else I’d rather be doing. Maybe fishing and hunting all the time.”

  • #2
    Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

    Excellent -- really like to hear this, a great attitude by a genuine, hard working OL veteran. Fraley can easily be a starter and his versatility as C / G is more than welcomed.

    This is one key addition to help our much maligned OL. :helmet:


    • #3
      Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

      Definitely a good pick up by the Rams this off season, as long as Fraley doesn't turn out to be a clone of COGs. Anyone know what number he'll be wearing?


      • #4
        Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

        dgr; looks like he'll be wearing #65 from the official site, and the photos


        • #5
          Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

          Hank Fraley is like the exact opposite of Richie Incognito.


          • #6
            Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

            Originally posted by RealRam View Post
            Excellent -- really like to hear this, a great attitude by a genuine, hard working OL veteran. Fraley can easily be a starter and his versatility as C / G is more than welcomed.

            This is one key addition to help our much maligned OL. :helmet:
            I second this sentiment!

            A much welcomed attitude and discipline to our line. Very refreshing.


            • #7
              Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

              Originally posted by RockinRam View Post
              Hank Fraley is like the exact opposite of Richie Incognito.

              10 chars.


              • #8
                Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

                Originally posted by RockinRam View Post
                Hank Fraley is like the exact opposite of Richie Incognito.
                :ram: Oh, absolutely. Fraley, far more mature and responsible. Most OL are aggressive and very tough by the nature of the position but it takes a man with brains and character to stand out as a consistent, good, reliable worker.

                ...Caramba, to think I had supported Cog up to last year. :|


                • #9
                  Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

                  Originally posted by RealRam View Post
                  :ram: Oh, absolutely. Fraley, far more mature and responsible. Most OL are aggressive and very tough by the nature of the position but it takes a man with brains and character to stand out as a consistent, good, reliable worker.

                  ...Caramba, to think I had supported Cog up to last year. :|
                  I supported the physicality of his play, not the idiotic side.


                  • #10
                    Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

                    Cogs could be our best lineman or our worst... unfortunately, usually it was the worst. His head got him kicked out of St Louis, not his ability. I supported him too, just hoping he'd get smart, which he never did.

                    As for Fraley, he's a great signing. I love him as the swing guy on the interior or as a possible starter at RG. He should be great alongside Brown as a leader of the line.
                    I believe!:ram:


                    • #11
                      Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

                      Cogs was a great run blocker only IMHO. He missed a lot of blocks in the passing game, especially at the beginning of the season.


                      • #12
                        Re: Fraley Finding Niche Fast ..

                        I wish we could put Fraley's brain and attitude into Cog's body.


                        Related Topics


                        • MauiRam
                          Free agents bring needed experience to Rams' roster ..
                          by MauiRam

                          BY BILL COATS
                          ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                          When free agency began in March, the Rams had just one player on their roster with 10 or more years of NFL experience — defensive end James Hall, who is preparing for his 11th season.

                          That number has jumped with the free-agent additions of linebacker Na'il Diggs, 31; quarterback A.J. Feeley, 33; center-guard Hank Fraley, 32; defensive tackle Chris Hovan, 32; and defensive tackle Fred Robbins, 33. Like Hall, all are 10-year veterans.

                          A little seasoning never hurts, particularly for a team as young as the Rams, general manager Billy Devaney pointed out.

                          "We had made a concerted effort to get younger," Devaney said. "We just thought to have some guys blend in wasn't a bad idea, to get a couple of veterans in, as long as it was the right guy. We weren't going to just bring in older guys."

                          Diggs is the favorite to start at strongside linebacker. Feeley for now is working with the No. 1 offense. Hovan and Robbins figure to mix into the rotation on the defensive line.

                          Fraley's versatility makes him a valuable backup, although he isn't conceding anything at this point.

                          "Everybody in this game wants to play, wants to start, but if the role is to step behind and help out where it's needed, I can definitely do that," Fraley said after the Rams' three-day minicamp wrapped up Saturday. "It's all about the team and what's best."

                          The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Fraley originally signed with Pittsburgh as an undrafted rookie out of Robert Morris in 2000. He never made the Steelers' roster, but he latched on with Philadelphia, where he started 71 of the 72 games he appeared in over six seasons.

                          Fraley spent the last four years in Cleveland. He was a full-time starter the first three, then moved into a reserve role last season. "I was like a half-backup," he said. "But I ended up playing a lot because of injuries."

                          The experience that he and the other veteran free agents provide is vital, Fraley said.

                          "You're not just talking about football; all the life experiences, too: how to handle yourself as a pro outside of the game," he said. "The guys they brought in, they're a class act, not just on the football field but off the football field.

                          "I think it's just that leadership and experience you bring. I know that's what you'll get out of me."

                          Veterans have an obligation, Fraley added, to help bring along the younger players.

                          "I definitely try to act like the veterans did when I came into the league," he said. "When I came in, Dermontti Dawson was the center in Pittsburgh. He treated me with respect. Dermontti said, 'Hey, if you need help, come to me. I'll teach you.'

                          "I try...
                          -06-13-2010, 12:47 AM
                        • MauiRam
                          Wragge Settling In at Center ..
                          by MauiRam
                          By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

                          It had been more than three years since Tony Wragge had made a start at any position on a NFL offensive line.

                          But it didn’t take long for him to feel right at home.

                          “I told a couple of guys that,” Wragge said. “It wasn’t even the first snap, it was warm-ups. I just wanted to get through warm-ups, I want to get my body going and primed and that’s really when it was. Going through those, there was a little, not so much nervousness but getting some physical hitting and getting my body moving. By the time we got to the first snap, the first series, I was just ready to go. It was a great feeling, I was in the zone and I was focused. I had fun with it.”

                          Wragge started at center for the Rams last week against the Browns, his first start since 2008 when he started at guard for San Francisco. It was his first start at center since 2006 when he got the call for the *****.

                          The start was only the third of his career in the middle but by all accounts, Wragge handled the role well in replacing Jason Brown.

                          “I thought he was solid,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “He did a good job.”

                          Considering how long it had been since Wragge made a start of any kind, it would have been perfectly understandable had he taken some time to knock the rust off.

                          Wragge said while it wasn’t his best outing, it felt good to be back on the field and contributing.

                          “It wasn’t perfect but I’m obviously a perfectionist, being a professional,” Wragge said. “But I don’t dwell on the last play. I focus and move forward. It was fun. I had a great week of preparation. I think some guys that play with me will tell you I am edgy but that’s just the way I prepare and I leave no stone unturned and that allows me to just go play ball on Sunday and I have fun. My week of preparation is supposed to be harder than the game. That’s what I did. I mentally and physically prepared and then I was just playing football.”

                          This week, Wragge is again working with the first team at center and believes that with every week he can work with quarterback Sam Bradford, running back Steven Jackson and the rest of the offensive line, the better off he’ll be.

                          “The more time I get with Sam, it just helps me prepare and get more comfortable,” Wragge said. “Plus we are at home this week so we won’t be on the road in a loud stadium. I’m going to try to be even more in the zone with my details and preparation which will just build our confidence even more. I don’t think we had any hitches the other day. We had the time together to learn all week from last week and just go play football. I have been doing that since I’ve been here but I tried to be even more detailed now and I think that has helped me turn it loose on Sunday.”

                          In adding Wragge to the line, the Rams have another guy similar to guard Harvey Dahl who plays...
                          -11-18-2011, 12:48 PM
                        • eldfan
                          Rams Report
                          by eldfan
                          USA Today

                          NOTES, QUOTES

                          —In the press release sent out by the Rams after the signing of Hank Fraley, it mentioned that offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was Fraley's position coach for two seasons with the Eagles. The chart in Shurmur's bio says he was the tight ends/offensive line coach for Philadelphia from 1999-2001, but the bio refers to him only coaching the tight ends. Juan Castillo has been the Eagles' line coach since 1998.

                          When asked in a conference call about Shurmur being his line coach, Fraley said, "He wasn't really the line coach. He was the QB coach. We had a good relationship with me being the center in Philly and always working with the quarterbacks all the time, we just had that relationship and it was really good. We were friends on and off the field. We kind of remain that it seems like.

                          "He was the QB's coach, but don't worry. You're a coach somewhere ... you can get yelled at by any of the coaches. It didn't matter what he was coaching, he could be on you."

                          So, what did Shurmur actually coach those three years with the Eagles?

                          A check with the Eagles' public relations office brought this response: "It (offensive line) was a part of his title for a short time, but he never coached the linemen. It was all Juan."

                          —The Rams started their offseason conditioning program March 15, and quarterback Marc Bulger attended. Most believe Bulger won't return this season, but the team has continually said he remains on the roster.

                          As for the attitude of the team, defensive end Chris Long said, "Every day has got to be a new day, no matter what. Coach Spags talks about erasing the past so that's what we as players kind of have to do whether it was good or bad we have to erase it and go forward. Certainly we can reflect on some of the things we learned but as far as we are concerned we are 0-0 just like every other team."

                          Said Spagnuolo, "Getting up this morning was a little bit easier. I am ready to get up every morning when the alarm goes off anyway but I had the Christmas Day feel to see all those faces again. I like it when the players are around. That's when you feel like a football team. There is no team without the players. They need their time away but it's great to have them around."

                          Said second-year linebacker James Laurinaitis, "I think you're anxious, excited to get going. It's exciting to see what these guys are going to do. I think we have a lot of good players on our team and I think that we are a young squad overall so the most important thing for us is that the young guys we have get better. That's the thing. Each individual has to make himself that much better. It's fun to be back in a team setting working with them, challenging and competing. That's what it's all about."

                          QUOTE TO NOTE: "I had this same...
                          -03-24-2010, 09:04 AM
                        • RamWraith
                          Leckey Makes Most of Opportunity
                          by RamWraith
                          Thursday, November 15, 2007
                          By Nick Wagoner
                          Senior Writer

                          There comes a point in every football player’s life where it dawns on him that the end is near. Training camp, the preseason, and the opening of the regular season have passed and he is without a job.

                          At that point, it generally begins to register that maybe it’s time to pursue another line of work. As legendary Ram, Paul (Tank) Younger, in his capacity as the training camp Turk, would say, “Son, it’s time for you to get on with your life‘s work.” For Nick Leckey, the point of no return seemed to draw near this offseason when the regular season opener came and went and he had no team to call his own.

                          “It’s a step closer but you always know in the back of your head this is not forever, tomorrow is not guaranteed,” Leckey said. “I think most players, there’s only a small percentage of players in this league who are guaranteed in their spot, but for me it’s always in the back of my mind like I am here today and tomorrow is not guaranteed.”

                          It was also no guarantee that the Rams’ offensive line would be hit with the injury plague again and again. There was no way of knowing that Orlando Pace’s shoulder would suddenly give out or Mark Setterstrom’s knee would tear at the seams.

                          But in the course of those events, injury creates opportunity. For a guy like Leckey, that’s all he needs.

                          Leckey started at right guard last week against New Orleans after filling in at the position the previous game when Richie Incognito suffered a kneecap injury.

                          It was a long, strange journey back into a starting lineup, but Leckey – who had limited guard experience – performed beyond expectations. He was a key part of an offensive line that paved the way for one of the team’s best offensive performances of the season.

                          And he performed well enough to stake a claim to a starting job on a more permanent basis. It's almost certain that Leckey will start again this week at right guard.

                          “It shows that he’s played and competed in a lot of games whether he has the right physical characteristics to play that position, he has the right mindset and competitive spirit,” coach Scott Linehan said. “He showed where we’re trying to get as far as, regardless if you are counted on to be the starter or backup or fill-in, whoever goes in has to play well enough for us to win. He came in at a tough spot against Cleveland and took a lot of accountability on his shoulders for us not doing as good as we wanted to do. He went out and played very, very well the next game. It’s a great example of what we’re trying to get done.”

                          What Leckey is trying to get done is to make the adjustment to guard after spending almost his entire career as a center. In his fourth year out of Kansas State, Leckey’s start at guard against New Orleans was the first of his career at a position other than...
                          -11-15-2007, 02:09 PM
                        • BEER
                          Great article.
                          by BEER
                          Training camp - news


                          Posted about 19 hours ago
                          22 Comments 1 Recommendation E-mail

                          With Spagnuolo at the helm, Rams embrace physical style of play

                          By Steve Wyche |
                          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, 02:25 PM