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A Pain Free Move for Payne ..

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  • A Pain Free Move for Payne ..

    Thursday, May 27, 2010
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    During his collegiate career at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, Kevin Payne did a little of everything.

    On offense, Payne played running back. On defense, he played the hard hitting safety role. He even contributed on special teams as a punter.

    The more you can do, as they say, certainly made Payne an intriguing prospect coming to the NFL but it was his fit on defense that ultimately landed him a full time gig at the games highest level.

    And its on defense where Payne feels the most at home.

    I like hitting people, Payne said. Thats what I like about safety over running back. (At) running back you got hit. I like hitting people.

    Its that mentality that the Rams are hoping to continue to develop after acquiring Payne via trade from the Bears for an undisclosed 2011 NFL Draft pick on April 28.

    Payne did his best to make his preference for delivering blows rather than receiving them abundantly clear during the past three years. After exhausting his college eligibility, Payne was a fifth-round pick of Chicago (No. 167 overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft.

    A shoulder injury limited Payne to three games in his rookie season before he was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 2, 2007.

    Over the past two seasons, though, Payne has flashed starting-caliber potential for the Bears. He wrested a starting job away from Chris Harris, a player whom he replaced in his senior season in college.

    In 2008, Payne started all 16 games, recording four interceptions and finished second on the Bears in tackles with 129. Last year, Payne played in 12 games with four starts, finishing with 59 tackles and five passes defended.

    But in the offseason, the Bears opted to bring Harris back for another chance.

    Its crazy, Payne said. You can actually write a book on it one day. Thats what happened. I was drafted and Chicago drafted Chris as well two years before me. I was drafted and they got rid of Chris; then they brought Chris back and got rid of me, so its kind of ironic.

    With safety Oshiomogho Atogwe unsigned and in search of depth for the safety positions, the Rams turned to the Bears to make a deal and bolster the secondary.

    Upon bringing Payne to St. Louis, coach Steve Spagnuolo made it clear that its not an easy defense to adjust to for a safety but hes already seen signs of progress and comprehension in Payne.

    A safety has to learn a lot, there are a lot of mental aspects to that particular position whether hes playing free or strong so that is taking a little bit but the guy has played in the league, Spagnuolo said. Im sure when we put the pads on; hell show up a little more because he knows how to do that. The game is not too fast for him.

    Indeed, Payne says the adjustment to St. Louis has been relatively smooth. Although he spent the majority of his time in Chicago playing strong safety, hes working mostly at free safety for the Rams (though many times the two are interchangeable in the Rams defense).

    And Payne doesnt mind working at either, so long as he gets to compete.

    I believe I can play both positions, Payne said. I think I have the athletic ability to. Right now I have been playing free. I am willing to do whatever the coaches want me to do to just try to help this team get better and give my all, you know.

    After spending his first two college seasons at running back and three seasons as a backup at punter, Payne quickly adapted to safety and acknowledges that hes still learning the nuances of playing on the back end.

    One area Paynes had no trouble grasping is the hitting part of the job.

    You definitely want to make them pay if they come across the middle, Payne said. If the quarterback throws it, I want to try to get an interception. If I cant, I just try to make the receiver pay with a good, hard tackle.

    As for understanding the Rams defense, Payne says a lot of the things hes asked to do are similar to what he had to do in Chicago.

    That has made the move a little easier.

    Its been good because it was pretty much the same thing in Chicago, Payne said. I am up for a challenge. I love competition. I love challenges so whatever I have got to do to try to learn everything, whatever I have got to do to make this team better, I am willing to do it.

    As for what his ultimate role in St. Louis will be, whether he eventually competes for a starting job or serves as a sort of utility player on the back end, Payne says he will be happy regardless.

    I think every day is an opportunity for me, Payne said. I am just blessed to be playing the game of football. The NFL, my dreams have some true so every day I step on the field, I am going to make the best of it.

  • #2
    Re: A Pain Free Move for Payne ..

    I kind of forgot we traded for this guy. Thanks for the article!


    • #3
      Re: A Pain Free Move for Payne ..

      well that still doesn't change the fact that OJ is better than him.. lol


      • #4
        Re: A Pain Free Move for Payne ..

        Originally posted by J Way View Post
        well that still doesn't change the fact that OJ is better than him.. lol
        only in knocking the ball out bro.


        • #5
          Re: A Pain Free Move for Payne ..

          I sure am going to miss OJ. Its pretty much done with him. Lets move on and have our current safeties put on a show.

          Craig Dahl, Kevin Payne, James Butler anyone?