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Landeta's release shakes up his teammates

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  • Landeta's release shakes up his teammates

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Nov. 27 2004

    Punter Sean Landeta wasn't the only person surprised by his release on Friday.
    The news was a jolt to many Rams, and a sobering reminder of life in the
    National Football League.

    "Wow, I couldn't believe it," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "He's been
    playing longer than I've been born. So it can happen to anybody. Nobody's job
    is secure. That's why you have to go out and play every week."

    Actually, Pickett was 3 in 1983 when Landeta started punting professionally in
    the old United States Football League.

    Wide receiver Torry Holt said that Landeta was a veteran whom players and
    coaches alike often leaned on for advice.

    "It was good for this team to have a guy that's been around this league for
    that long," Holt said. "The things that he knows, the people that he's met, the
    things that he's encountered. Everybody can go to him."

    Not anymore.

    "To see him gone like that, it's kind of disappointing," Holt said. "It's kind
    of disheartening. But it's never personal. It's business. They felt like they
    needed to make a change, and that's what they did. I'm sure Sean understands
    that, and I wish him the best."

    While the Rams were working out Kevin Stemke on Thursday, Landeta was having
    Thanksgiving dinner at the home of long snapper Chris Massey, along with
    several teammates.

    "Sean was a great help to me, and he'll always be a friend the rest of my
    life," Massey said. "It's a game that we all love to play, but then again, we
    know it's a business. We see guys coming in and out.

    "I was surprised, but it's not my call. It's the head man's, and he does what's
    best for the team. I'm sure it was a hard decision to make. Sean was liked by
    everybody around here."

    One of Landeta's closest friends on the team is place-kicker Jeff Wilkins. So
    understandably, Wilkins took the news hard.

    "It's tough," Wilkins said. "I think he's still good enough to punt. I think he
    should be punting. It's one of those situations where we all kind of take a
    little bit of blame for it, I guess, the special teams as a whole."

    When Martz criticized Landeta's work against Buffalo at a news conference
    Monday, Wilkins figured something might be up. But Wilkins was called out in a
    similar fashion by Martz two years ago and survived - and flourished.

    "I knew Sean was under a little duress or whatever," Wilkins said. "But I
    figured he'd have another week. When you punt 20-something years in the league,
    I wasn't worried about him. I figured he would be all right."

    Wilkins added that Landeta's replacement, Stemke, "is good enough to kick in
    this league."

    Holt's OK

    Despite being listed as questionable for Monday's game in Green Bay with a sore
    knee, Holt is at full speed, or close to it.

    "It was a little sore the beginning of the week," Holt said after Saturday's
    workout at Rams Park. "But Coach (Mike Martz) gave me some time off, let it
    heal up. I got some treatment. So I'm OK, I'm feeling pretty good."

    Last Sunday, Holt wasn't happy with what he thought was a cheap-shot blow to
    his knees by Buffalo cornerback Nate Clements. That's what caused the injury.
    But Holt is holding no grudges. "I've moved on from it," he said.

    Holt is expected to be matched against with Green Bay cornerback Al Harris on
    Monday, and he's is looking forward to the challenge.

    "I personally think he's the anchor back there for their secondary," Holt said.
    "I think he sets the tone for them. Very smart. Very savvy. He's competitive,
    and he has a short memory. He gets beat on some plays, but you can't tell the
    difference. It doesn't affect him. He comes right back out and continues to
    challenge you."

    Little's ready

    There have been a rash of "stingers" among Rams players lately, contact
    injuries that cause numbness or pain in the neck and shoulder area. The latest
    to suffer a stinger was defensive end Leonard Little. But he received treatment
    after Friday's practice, practiced Saturday and will play against Green Bay.