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  • Thomas wants to make most of second chance

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Nov. 24 2004

    When Robert Thomas suffered an ankle injury in Game 3 against New Orleans, he
    tried to play through it for a couple of weeks.

    "I wasn't quite productive on it," Thomas said. "So I gave it a little time

    He ended up with a lot more time off than planned - about three games' worth.
    After sitting out the Tampa Bay and Miami games because of the ankle injury,
    Thomas returned from the Rams' off week rested, healthy and ready to go.

    There was just one problem: Trev Faulk had moved ahead of him on the depth
    chart at middle linebacker. Against New England (Nov. 7), Seattle (Nov. 14),
    and Buffalo last Sunday, Thomas was reduced to a backup role. Other than a few
    plays from scrimmage against the Seahawks, Thomas was limited to special teams

    "Being a competitive athlete, obviously it's tough," Thomas said. "But Trev,
    he's a great player, who plays with great enthusiasm. I was behind him, and
    helped him, and was doing what I had to do to get where I'm at now."

    Which is back in the starting lineup. Thomas, the Rams' first-round draft pick
    in 2002 out of UCLA, will start for the team at middle linebacker Monday
    against Green Bay.

    It's not that Faulk embarrassed himself as a starter. He plays with a lot of
    heart and isn't afraid of collisions. But Faulk isn't as gifted athletically as

    "It's a speed issue," Martz said. "Robert is very unique in his ability to run.
    He gives you something that most 'backers don't have."

    After a spotty rookie season, Thomas showed he belonged in the league in 2003,
    registering 102 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Even though he missed
    four games with a groin injury, Thomas had just 19 fewer tackles than Pisa
    Tinoisamoa's team high.
    This season was supposed to be the year in which Thomas asserted himself as one
    of the young leaders of the defense. The early signs were encouraging. In
    training camp, new linebackers coach Joe Vitt praised Thomas for his huddle
    presence and play-calling demeanor.

    Three weeks into the season, Thomas was again among the Rams' tackling leaders,
    with 27. Then came the ankle injury, and apparently, some frustration by the
    coaching staff about Thomas' missing time.

    Martz, for example, was asked Wednesday what he wants from Thomas now that he's
    back in the lineup.

    "I'd like to see him stay on the field," Martz said, bluntly.

    For his part, Thomas wants to make the most of what amounts to a second chance
    to prove himself.

    "I just want to be a part of it," Thomas said. "I've got another opportunity
    here, and I'm going to take full advantage of it."

    As for a season that began with such high hopes ...

    "It's not over with," he said. "We've got a lot of football to play yet. And
    we've got a lot to play for. I'm looking forward to it, and am excited about
    playing and doing anything I can to help this team win."

    In part because of injury and in part because of performance issues, the Rams
    already have started five lineup combinations at linebacker.

    And Thomas' return to middle linebacker isn't the only lineup shuffling that
    will take place in Green Bay. Martz announced Wednesday that offensive tackle
    Grant Williams will return to the starting spot at right tackle, which was
    manned in Buffalo by Blaine Saipaia. Williams has struggled of late, but also
    has been slowed by elbow and shoulder ailments.

    On the defensive line, rookies Anthony Hargrove and Brian Howard could be
    moving closer to starting assignments. Both players got plenty of practice
    repetitions with the No. 1 defense Wednesday - Hargrove at right end and Howard
    at tackle. But neither player has been told he is starting against the Packers.

    "Honestly, it'd be nice," said Howard, who had four tackles, including one for
    loss, against Buffalo. "But that's not really on my mind right now. I'm just
    trying to get ready for Green Bay."

    Until sitting out the Buffalo game with a stinger, Hargrove had been getting
    more playing time recently at the spot normally manned by Bryce Fisher.

    "I'm trying to go back out this week and get back to my mind-set of playing
    hard," Hargrove said. "If I get the starting job this week, I get it.

    "My playing time has gone up a lot ever since the Monday night game against
    Tampa. Hopefully, I can come back (against Green Bay) and have a good
    performance. The game's really starting to slow down a whole lot more. Now, I'm
    really understanding our defense."

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  • r8rh8rmike
    Thomas Finds Fit At Home
    by r8rh8rmike
    Thomas Finds Fit at Home
    Friday, July 31, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Hollis Thomas has been around the NFL long enough to know what he brings to the table.

    But as he hit free agency this offseason looking for a place to play his 14th NFL season, the decision to come to St. Louis became easy based on three simple reasons.

    “I know the system, I know Spags and it’s home,” Thomas said with a smile Thursday morning.

    With that, Thomas signed a one-year contract with the Rams late Wednesday afternoon to help literally and figuratively fill a major hole in the team’s defensive line.

    Coming back to St. Louis was the easy part of the equation for Thomas. Born and raised in town, Thomas attended the Academy of Math and Science.

    Because that school didn’t have a football team, Thomas was able to join the team at Sumner High. There, he won a pair of 4A state championships and played basketball for the academy.

    Thomas was impressive enough on the football field to earn a scholarship to Northern Illinois in DeKalb, Ill. Rarely along the way did it occur to Thomas that he could someday land in the NFL but after a successful career for the Huskies in which was a solid contributor for three seasons, that started to become more of a reality.

    “I wasn’t really thinking that far ahead,” Thomas said. “I was thinking about getting to college. When I got to college I was thinking about pro.”

    Thomas went undrafted in the 1996 NFL Draft but was given a shot to compete with the Eagles for a job in Philadelphia.

    The opportunity was all he needed. Using his undrafted status as the motivating chip on his shoulder, Thomas landed a roster spot and became an instant contributor for the Eagles.

    Thomas played in all 16 games as a rookie with five starts and earned some All Rookie honors. So began what would become an accomplished 13-year career in which Thomas became a dominating force in the middle of the Eagles defensive line.

    It was there, in the city of Brotherly Love that Thomas met Steve Spagnuolo, then the linebackers coach of the Eagles.

    Spagnuolo quickly took a liking to Thomas who had a knack for getting his teammates lined up in the right spots and taking on blockers so Spagnuolo’s linebackers can run free to the ball.

    After a three-year stop in New Orleans, Thomas found himself on the market this offseason after a triceps injury required surgery and left him unable to take a physical for the Saints.

    Thomas spent his offseason recovering from surgery and missed all opportunities to get in some work in Organized Team Activities or minicamps.

    Only recently did Thomas begin looking for his next destination. As he sorted out the options, he knew St. Louis was an option but he didn’t...
    -07-31-2009, 09:30 PM
  • HUbison
    It's no fun to run vs. Thomas
    by HUbison
    It's no fun to run vs. Thomas

    By Jim Thomas

    In the twilight of his NFL career, defensive tackle Hollis Thomas has come home to help stop the bleeding. The Rams hope the St. Louis native can be more than a 335-pound Band-Aid for a run defense that was gashed for a franchise-record 2,475 yards rushing last season.

    Thomas' eyes widened and his head snapped back as if to say "wow" when he was informed of that dubious feat.

    "That would be embarrassing to any defense, to any team as a whole," Thomas said. "I think everybody on this team has some pride. That should be our main objective — to stop the run. Because if you can't stop the run, there's no need to try to pass-rush. You have to stop the run first."

    No one at Rams Park expects Thomas to work miracles, not at age 35 and entering his 14th NFL season. But they do expect him to help restore some of the pride in the Rams' run defense.

    "He's always been a really good run defender," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "You know, I've been saying it to the team and saying it to everybody — it does start up front."

    Since he entered the league in 1996 as an undrafted rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles, stopping the run has been Thomas' forte, his meal ticket. It's dirty work, physical business, but it's what Thomas does best.

    "I like beating up on people, that's the only way I can explain it," Thomas said. "Take out the frustration. You (media) guys might write something that frustrates me, so I might take it out on the guy that's in front of me next play."

    But it will take awhile for Thomas to get into game shape.

    "He's been away from football a little bit," Spagnuolo said. "He's probably got to knock some rust off."

    Thomas, a squat 6-footer, has more than rust to knock off. Just before he signed a one-year contract with the Rams, his agent said Thomas weighed 340 pounds — or just five pounds off his listed roster weight.

    "Yeah, that's ballpark," Thomas said with a grin, evoking laughter from a group of reporters.

    It must be a big ballpark, because Thomas looked heavier than 340. He struggled at times during the humid morning practice Thursday and had to be toweled down briefly by the Rams' athletic trainers.

    Lots of veteran free agents find a way to miss as much training camp as possible, but Thomas knows he needs the work. So there he was Thursday, sweating it out among 34 Rams, a group that consisted mainly of rookies and fringe players.

    "I wanted to get here and get in as much work as I can because obviously I'm rusty," Thomas said. "I haven't been doing any football stuff for the last few months. Even the people who are...
    -07-31-2009, 07:45 AM
  • MauiRam
    Transcript of the weekly chat with Rams beat writer Jim Thomas ..
    by MauiRam
    BY JIM THOMAS | Posted: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 4:40 pm

    Ram Quixote: Gotta ask: What was the deal with the taunting penalty on Amendola? I've seen him spin the ball after catches before and nothing was called. Strange coincidence, but when he spun the ball, I was wondering what would happen if the spin went out of control and thought, "maybe he shouldn't do that or he'll cause a delay of game penalty."

    But taunting? Outrageous.

    Did you notice on his next catch he picked up the ball, ran over and handed it to the ref? I wonder if that was the ref who threw the flag?

    Jim Thomas: I guess by the letter of the law, it was taunting. But if you're going to call taunting so close, then maybe you should've flagged the defender who rode Amendola several feet out of bounds for unceccessary roughness. To me, the officiating in the NFL is an inconsistent as ever.
    Alchemistical: Jim,

    How do you see the depth chart shaking out once all the receivers (especially Laurent Robinson) are healthy again? Has Gibson done enough to unseat Robinson as the #2? I realize the guys outside of Clayton and Amendola are probably interchangeable at this point, but how close does this look?:

    1. Clayton
    2. Gibson
    3. Amendola (only "ahead" of Robinson because he's the slot receiver)
    4. Robinson
    5. Gilyard


    Jim Thomas: It's hard to disagree with your order at this point. But I don't know if there's any guarantee that Robinson will be healthy this week. Gibson has shown some quickness and separation skills. If he wants to stay in this league, however, he has to reduce the number of dropped passes.
    howboutrams1: Jim, with the last two home victories, do you get a sense that Rams fan base is once again interested in Rams football and sell-outs will not be a problem?

    Jim Thomas: Well the TV rating continue to be high, the highest levels we've seen since the start of the 2006 season. But there are still a lot of tickets left for the five remaining home games. When a team goes through a 6-44 stretch like the Rams did, I it takes more than a couple of victories to get fans back into the stands. But there's no doubt the team is progressing and much more interesting to watch. And for fans that haven't been do the dome in a while, the game-day atmosphere is much better.
    aussie_ramfan: JT, must be nice to be following a decent side again.

    will robinson come back in as the starter? Or has gibson done enough to keep the job? A split of the duty? Who at reciever would be "down" in that case?

    Also, thoughts on Thad Lewis? Does he get a spot back on the 53-man roster after Hoomanawanui gets back and D. Johnson inevitably gets cut? Or is there someone else the rams are more likely to promote?


    Jim Thomas: See earlier...
    -10-06-2010, 09:51 AM
  • RamWraith
    Jim Thomas Live
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Rams Fan: Why does Greg Olson keep throwing to Holt behind the line of scrimmage on 3rd and long when Holt is not known for his running with the ball. Why did we wait a whole year for the SAME OLD SORRY AZZ RAMS

    Jim Thomas: Despite all the great things Holt _ and Bruce _ have done as Rams receivers, they've never really excelled at the type of pass plays you're talking about it. So I don't know why the Rams kept trying them. Maybe because CBs Gamble and Lucas had relatively poor tackling seasons a year ago. But they sure tackled well on Sunday.
    bill hanrahan: Will the Rams move out of the 'edge' any time soon?

    Jim Thomas: Don't know what you mean by the "edge."
    Murat: Hello;

    I was wondering why the play calling was so conservative against the Panthers. With so many weapons at their disposal, Linehan-Olson duo should have been more aggressive. A little bit of Martz flavor was needed. What do you think?

    Jim Thomas: Agreed. It's one thing to constantly drop back seven steps and throw deep with empty backfields or four-receiver threats. But the Rams in my mind were ultra conservative Sunday, almost as if they were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. There's got to be some middle ground. You've got to take advantage of your playmakers _ Holt, Bruce, Jackson. And you've got to make a concerted effort to get them the ball. I don't think the Rams really did. Contrast that to how the Panthers went to Smith over and over and over again, until he finally produced a big play.
    Mike: Jim,
    Does Bulger have the ability to audible at the LOS when he sees a defensive set he doesn't like or does Olsen and Linehan have complete control? It seems to me that Marc would be better off, especially in the Red Zone, if he could call better plays in critical situations. Thanks for your time.

    Jim Thomas: Bulger has much more freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage than he did under Martz.
    Adam Coleman: So there goes Pace for the season along any hopes you guys had for a division title. Can't wait for my Hawks to come into the "ED" and knock Bulger silly just like they did to Garcia and Cadillac. Oh, and wasn't Jackson supposed to be everyone's MVP pick? 58 yds, 2 fumbles, 0 TD's sounds like a MVP performance to me.

    Adam in Seattle.

    Jim Thomas: Don't write the Rams off just yet. But I've said all along that if Hasselbeck and Alexander returned to form, the Seahawks would be the team to beat in the West and an NFC title contender....
    -09-11-2007, 01:24 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Jim Thomas Live Aug 25th
    by r8rh8rmike
    Jim Thomas Live

    Jim Thomas: This is from Mike Smith: Jim will start the chat soon as his post-practice interviews are finished. We apologize for the delay.


    Ram Fan: Hello Jim,
    When is A.Green's plane landing? The rushing offense was horrible.
    Jim Thomas: The rushing offense may have been terrible, but Ahman Green isn't going to happen. As someone at Rams Park told me: "That contact is sitting right next to Michael Vick's."


    CraZyRam: Hello Jim,

    Where were the RAMS we saw a week before at the Meadowlands? It is almost a complete oppisite performance. Glad it is only the preseason, but doesn't it make you concerned going in to the regular season? Whats your take on it Jim?
    Jim Thomas: It was definitely a step back, and a reality check for the team. I always say you pay attention to the score when the starters are in, and watch individuals are units when they're not. Well, it was pretty lopsided when the starters were in. If nothing else, it showed us that the rebuilding project probably isn't going to happen overnight.


    Larry: Jim,

    Jason Smith didn't look that great in the game against Atlanta. I understand he needs time but the analyst at the break challenged if Jason Smith is really going to be able to make the transition to the NFL as a good pass blocker and mentioned he may not have been the best draft pick for the Rams needs. Can you comment on this.
    Jim Thomas: I don't know what analyst you're talking about, but I don't know how you can make such blanket statements two preseason games into a career. My observation: Smith is gradually getting better. But I'm not sure if he's ready to be the starter on opening day.


    Prof: Thank you, Mr. Thomas for your time. Some comments about the dome improvements and questions where perhaps you can help.

    The concourses are dramatically improved. The new flooring and paint give them an expansive feel.

    Inside the dome is another story. The big screen that we can completely see from our seats is the wide screen on the north side. It clarity is unbelievably good, but its aspect ratio sometimes cuts off key parts of plays when shown on replay. The advertising bands around the dome are attractive but cast so much light that the entire ambient hue and light level changes in the dome when the ads change. It's like pimp my dome. Plus the only down and distance panel that we can see is all but illegible. The blue and gold paint theme is attractive but the stripes...
    -08-25-2009, 06:14 PM