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  • Edwards will start at free safety for Rams

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Since signing free-agent safety Antuan Edwards on Nov. 11, Rams coach Mike Martz had been eager to get the six-year NFL veteran on the field. Now, the trick is keeping him there.

    Edwards made a strong showing Monday in his Rams debut, collecting eight tackles and forcing a fumble in a 45-17 loss at Green Bay.

    "He played very well ... exceptionally well for the amount of time and preparation he's had," Martz said. "He filled fast, he made some real nice open-field plays. He has terrific range. He can get to the ball."

    Said Edwards: "It felt good playing football again. For being new to the system, I thought I did pretty good."

    His stout play, combined with a lingering stinger that has affected Aeneas Williams' neck and shoulder, earned Edwards a start: He'll be in the lineup at free safety Sunday when the Rams (5-6) take on NFC West rival San Francisco (1-10) at the Edward Jones Dome.

    "I'm excited to go out there and do whatever I can to help this team win and play the best ball I can play," said Edwards, 27. "I started in Miami, started in Green Bay, so I consider myself as a starter in this league."

    The overriding challenge for Edwards has been staying healthy. A litany of injuries, ranging from torn knee ligaments in 2001 to the severe groin pull that he had when he arrived here, have conspired to keep him on the sideline for 29 games. He played in all 16 games his rookie season, after the Packers made him their first-round pick (No. 25 overall) in the 1999 draft, then was out for 27 of the next 64 games. Edwards cites "bad luck and being in the wrong place at the wrong time" as reasons for most of his nicks.

    "In this league, it's hard to prevent injuries. It's a contact sport, so you're going to have injuries every week," he said. "Unfortunately it's happened to me more than most. It's very frustrating. But I have to keep pressing on, keep showing I can play, until they kick me out."

    The Dolphins stunned Edwards by giving him the boot Nov. 10 after he'd started eight games. He was released the day after coach Dave Wannstedt resigned amid the Dolphins' 1-8 start.

    "I was really surprised. I thought they were really joking with me, to tell you the truth," Edwards recalled.

    The Rams grabbed the 6-foot-1, 210-pound native of Starkville, Miss., signing him to a deal for the rest of the season.

    "He's big and physical," Martz said. "We thought there was terrific value in him."

    He was inactive for two games with the groin injury. Now, Edwards said, he has healed and is ready to prove that he's deserving of a spot in the league.

    "Every day you have to prove yourself in this league, because there's always some young talent out there that's waiting in line," he said. "I got cut, so I've got to ... play every down like it's my last."

    Edwards spent five seasons in Green Bay, where he started 18 of the 53 games in which he played. He spent most of his time at free safety in a defensive scheme much like the one the Rams employ. He signed with the Dolphins in the offseason as a free agent and had to learn a new approach.

    "In Miami, we played with a seven-man front about 90 percent of the time," he explained. "Here, we bring a safety down in the box, so it's a lot different."

    Still, he's played all four spots in the secondary in the NFL, so he's done plenty of adapting.

    "It was the same thing in college," said Edwards, a Clemson product. "That's helped me in my knowledge of the game. And it's improving every year."

    As for a preference in positions ... well, he's not real picky.

    "I've played free safety the most. I feel really comfortable with that," he said. "But wherever I can get in and be a starter, that's what I prefer."

    The future of the 36-year-old Williams with the Rams is clouded; his contract is up after this season. So in a sense, Edwards also could be auditioning for a job in 2005 and perhaps beyond.

    "Every time I step on the field, I think it's an opportunity for the future," he said. "I'm a free agent next year; I'm playing for a contract. But San Fran's at hand right now. That's as far as it goes."

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Undrafted rookie will start on defensive line
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Nov. 28 2004

    GREEN BAY, Wis. - Brian Howard figured something was up Wednesday when he was
    told to go out with the Rams' starting defense at morning walk-through. Still,
    he was taking nothing for granted. One bad practice and he could be back with
    the second unit.

    "Yeah, it can change real quick," Howard said.

    But it didn't. Howard, an undrafted rookie defensive tackle from Idaho, will
    make his first NFL start tonight against Green Bay. Howard actually found out
    later on Wednesday that he would start.

    "A lot of things go through your head when you hear that - being a young guy,
    and undrafted," Howard said. "Obviously it's exciting.

    He called his mother and some friends with the news as soon as he could. But as
    the week progressed, he tried not to give it much thought.

    "If you think about it too much, it might kind of get to you," he said.

    Given the occasion, Howard might have to battle his nerves as much as one of
    the league's top offensive lines tonight.

    "Maybe," he said. "Just because of everything that's going on, being on 'Monday
    Night Football,' being my first start, Green Bay Packers at (Lambeau Field).
    Just the whole scenario is pretty sweet."

    Howard is undersized at 6 feet 4, 278 pounds, but he does have some quickness
    and plays with a lot of energy. Howard has played mainly on special teams and
    didn't even dress against New England on Nov. 7. But he had four stops last
    week against Buffalo, including one tackle for loss.

    He will replace Damione Lewis, who hasn't made much happen the past couple of
    games, in the starting lineup.

    Edwards is ready for his debut

    When the Rams claimed Antuan Edwards off waivers from Miami on Nov. 11, he came
    to St. Louis with a groin injury. After being inactive against Seattle and
    Buffalo, Edwards is now healthy and will make his Rams debut tonight against
    his former team, the Green Bay Packers.

    Edwards, a free safety, will play in the dime package and on special teams. He
    was a first-round draft choice by Green Bay in 1999 out of Clemson and spent
    his first five seasons with the Packers.

    "It's going to be exciting to go back and see some old friends of mine,"
    Edwards said. "Get a chance for the first time in my career to play against one
    of the greatest quarterbacks of all time."

    That would be Brett Favre. Edwards played 53 games as a Packer at cornerback
    and safety, including 18 starts. He signed with Miami as an unrestricted free
    agent last offseason and started...
    -11-29-2004, 04:14 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams Insight: Lassiter praises Tillman
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    In 2000 and 2001, Kwamie Lassiter and Pat Tillman played together with the Arizona Cardinals, Lassiter as the starting free safety, Tillman as the starting strong safety.

    In May 2002, Tillman gave up his NFL career and joined the Army Rangers.

    "That was Pat Tillman," said Lassiter, signed by the Rams last week as a free agent. "If anybody would do that, it would be him. It wasn't a surprise to me at all."

    Tillman, 27, was killed April 22 in Afghanistan.

    "That was a surprise," Lassiter said. "A guy like that, who's going to give everything for you, not only for the team, but for his country, you want to see him come back home. But Pat, if he's going to die, he's going to die hard."

    Lassiter signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie out of Kansas in 1995. Tillman arrived three years later as the team's seventh-round draft pick, No. 226 overall.

    Tillman, an All-Pacific 10 Conference linebacker at Arizona State, impressed with his hard hitting and soon was a mainstay in the lineup.

    "People would say, 'He can't do this, he can't do that,' and he proved them wrong. He overachieved," Lassiter said. "He would get the game plan, focus on it, study it, and then go out there and get the job done. He was that type of guy. The game became second nature to him."

    In 2001, the Rams tried to sign Tillman as a restricted free agent. Tillman decided to return to the Cardinals for less money. A year later, he turned down a three-year, $3.6 million offer from Arizona and enlisted.

    "A lot of guys aren't able to walk away from fame and fortune," Lassiter said, "but Pat was a different guy."

    Lassiter remained with the Cardinals through the 2002 season. Though he'd started every game for four seasons in a row, Lassiter was waived in February 2003.

    "It's a business," Lassiter said. "I found that out a long time ago, when guys like Larry Centers, Lomas Brown and Aeneas Williams left (the Cardinals). Those are guys you want to retire at your place."

    San Diego signed Lassiter, and he started the first 10 games before a torn knee ligament ended his '03 season. The injury didn't require surgery, and Lassiter was with the Chargers throughout the preseason. He was released Sept. 5, apparently because the team wanted to go with younger players.

    "I never really got an answer when I left there, so I couldn't really tell you exactly what it was about," said Lassiter, who has 25 interceptions and 572 tackles during his career.

    Sitting out the 2 1/2 weeks before the Rams called wasn't easy.

    "I wasn't panicked, but ... this is what I like to do," said Lassiter,...
    -09-26-2004, 04:47 AM
  • RamWraith
    Hawthorne finds himself leading the free-safety pack
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    It's not like Michael Hawthorne played a lot of safety last season in Green Bay.

    "It's not like it's a problem, either," Hawthorne countered.

    Apparently not. Because four weeks into his first training camp and preseason with the Rams, Hawthorne finds himself starting at free safety. But it's not as if Hawthorne has a death grip on the position.

    Coach Mike Martz made it a point Wednesday to say that third- round draft pick Oshiomogho Atogwe and converted wide receiver Mike Furrey remain very much in the mix at free safety.

    "Somebody's going to come out of that pack," Martz said. "All three of them, we're very happy with."

    But the decision to move Adam Archuleta back to strong safety after the San Diego game makes Hawthorne the next in line at free safety.

    At 6 feet 3 and an almost-lanky 204 pounds, Hawthorne certainly has the size to play safety. But he spent most of his five previous NFL seasons playing cornerback. He played a little safety last season in Green Bay, and a little earlier in his career with New Orleans.

    But since signing with the Rams as free agent on April 11, he has been a full-time safety. What have been the biggest adjustments to playing safety?

    "Nothing," Hawthorne replied.

    Piece of cake, huh?

    "Piece of pie," Hawthorne corrected.

    What kind of pie?

    "Sweet potato," Hawthorne replied.

    OK, in a few short minutes, Hawthorne established Wednesday that he could play media cat-and-mouse with the best of them. But can he play free safety?

    "He's around the ball a great deal," Martz said. "He's always around the ball. Even though he's missed some tackles, we can clean that thing up. He makes a lot of plays. He's got a good break on the ball. He's smart. He gets the calls out."

    A year ago in Green Bay, Hawthorne started the first five games at left cornerback in place of Mike McKenzie, who was holding out and subsequently was traded to New Orleans.

    Hawthorne was replaced in the starting lineup in Game 6 by rookie - and first-round draft pick - Ahmad Carroll. He spent the rest of the year backing up Darren Sharper at safety during practice, and playing in the Packers' nickel and dime packages as an extra defensive back in games.

    Some observers in Green Bay felt Hawthorne lacked the quickness to be an effective NFL corner. But with his size and athleticism, he may be a good fit at safety.

    "Some people measure me at 6-3 and change," Hawthorne said. "So I just round it up to 6-4."

    Which had to make him one of the NFL's tallest corners ... back when he played corner. But Hawthorne views...
    -08-25-2005, 04:53 AM
  • Nick
    Rams sign DB Hawthorne
    by Nick
    Hawthorne, Rams agree to terms on one-year deal
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Apr. 06 2005

    It has been several weeks in the making, but defensive back Michael Hawthorne
    is finally a Ram. Hawthorne, a free agent who has played with Green Bay the
    past two seasons, has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Rams.

    Financial terms weren't immediately available. Hawthorne's agent, Ralph
    Cindrich, said the contract should be signed in the next day or so. The Rams
    offered Hawthorne a contract nearly four weeks ago, but he tested the market
    and took his time before deciding on the Rams.

    Hawthorne may be changing teams, but he will have the same position coach he
    had with the Packers in Kurt Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer replaced Perry
    Fewell as the Rams' secondary coach earlier this offseason.

    "Schottenheimer had him in Green Bay, knew him, and liked him," Cindrich said.
    "He can play corner. He can play safety. He's big, strong and fast. He should
    be your nickel back at minimum, and he has a chance to do a lot more. So it's
    an opportunity to have a chance to play."

    Hawthorne is 6-3, 204 pounds. He was a sixth-round draft pick by New Orleans
    out of Purdue in 2000. He spent his first three seasons with the Saints,
    starting seven times at cornerback. He was released by the Saints on Sept. 9,
    2003, but was picked up by the Packers and played in 14 games with Green Bay,
    including two starts at corner that season.

    With Mike McKenzie holding out, Hawthorne started the first five games of last
    season at corner before spending the rest of the season in a reserve role. He
    finished with 36 tackles, seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

    Without a proven nickel back to cover slot receivers, the Rams are expected to
    use Hawthorne in that role. But he's big enough to play safety, which is where
    he played at the end of the '04 season for Green Bay.

    Rangy and with long arms, Hawthorne is a fairly athletic player who has the
    potential to be a decent bump-and-run defender. He's not shy about hitting
    anybody, and is good at stripping the ball. He was released by the Packers
    before a $135,000 roster bonus was due.
    -04-06-2005, 10:39 PM
  • MauiRam
    Rookie safeties see opportunity with Rams
    by MauiRam
    Tuesday, May 22, 2012

    After the disappointment, there is at least one perk that comes with a player's failure to be drafted: the possibility of hand-picking a situation that, on the surface, offers the best path onto an NFL roster.

    Matt Daniels would like to think he discovered such a path.

    Ten minutes after the final pick was announced in April's NFL draft, the safety from Duke was ready to sign as a free agent with the Rams. It was a no-brainer for the All-Atlantic Coast Conference player after his agent revealed that the Rams had only three safeties under contract.

    "That was the reason I came here," Daniels said. "It's the biggest opportunity to actually make a roster and make an impact. It wasn't about money or getting a big signing bonus or going to the team that's predicted to win the Super Bowl. The reason you come here is the opportunity to play and help a team win and go to a Super Bowl."

    Daniels hopes to take advantage of one, maybe two, roster spots, as do rookie free agents Rodney McLeod from Virginia and Quinton Pointer from UNLV. The 6-foot, 211-pounder offers the most impressive physical package and credentials after he earned second-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Foundation.

    A big hitter whose speed has come into question, Daniels hopes to join a safety unit that includes Craig Dahl, Quintin Mikell and Darian Stewart. McLeod finds himself in the same situation entering the team's second week of organized team activities.

    "I felt I'd fit in here," McLeod said. "They're going in a new direction and I realized as far as the safety situation, there weren't many. So it's a good shot for me as well as special teams."

    Daniels was projected as a late-round pick and arrives as the highest rated of the free agent safeties. But they've known about him in his hometown of Fayetteville, Ga., for quite a while.

    He started making a name for himself in youth football, and a highlight tape of his exploits comes complete with some jarring hits.

    "I have always been hard hitting," he said. "You can go on Youtube and find my little league tape. It's bad. Me being able to hit hard has just been God-given talent since I was little. There were some brutal hits on there things little 8-year-olds shouldn't be doing. People ask all the time, 'How do you hit so hard?' I just stick my face in there and it works."

    Daniels frequently is categorized as a "box" safety, but he doesn't accept that designation. As a senior, he had 126 tackles, two interceptions and 14 pass breakups.

    "The system I was put in at Duke, that's what it made me out to be," he said. "I wasn't an in-the-box safety, I just played close to the line. I was able to make an impact. You don't become...
    -05-22-2012, 09:29 AM