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  • Smoker -- not Martin -- will back up Chandler

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Dec. 10 2004

    Jeff Smoker will be the Rams’ backup quarterback Sunday at Carolina. And that’s
    no joke.

    “Usually I’m on the sideline writing on the clipboard and maybe joking around
    here and there” during games, said Smoker, a rookie from Michigan State. “But I’
    ve got to stay into the game now and be prepared to go in at any time.”

    Smoker, a sixth-round draft choice, was the No. 3 quarterback for the team’s
    first 11 games. His role in practice was as the scout-team QB.

    But now, after the shoulder bruise that will keep starter Marc Bulger out for
    at least Sunday’s game and put 39-year-old Chris Chandler in the lineup, Smoker
    is a turned ankle away from seeing his first regular-season action in the NFL.

    “It’s one step closer,” Smoker said. “But hopefully nothing happens to Chris
    and all goes well and I don’t have to get in.”

    Should he get the call, though, Smoker said he believes that he’s ready. “Yeah,
    definitely. I’ve been learning little by little every week,” he said.
    “Obviously I don’t know everything, and I don’t know as much as Marc and
    probably Chris. But I know enough to get in there, be efficient and run the
    offense.”

    Coach Mike Martz wasn’t so sure of that earlier in the week, when he indicated
    that former Ram Jamie Martin -- signed on Monday -- would fill the No. 2 role.
    But Smoker earned the spot with his play in practice.

    “I stuck him in the blitz periods and . . . I was very pleased with how well he
    responded; he did a great job,” Martz said. “He’s been through everything in
    camp and he played for us in the preseason. I think at this point, that’s the
    way we would start and give Jamie some time to get his feet on the ground.”


    Hard-headed Hargrove:


    Unlike most teams, the Panthers don’t form a wedge on kickoff returns. No one
    is happier about that than Rams rookie Anthony Hargrove.

    Hargrove, a defensive end by trade, twice has suffered concussions this year on
    opening kickoffs while trying to bust wedges by hurtling his 6-foot-3,
    269-pound body into the fray. It happened in the season opener against Arizona
    and again last Sunday vs. San Francisco.

    “They tell you, ‘The closer you get, the faster you run,’” Hargrove said. “I
    just try to hit it and take out everybody on one shot.” Taking himself out,
    though, is not part of the plan.

    “When he goes down there and hits them, he’d probably be better leading with
    something other than the top of his head,” Martz said. “He’ll figure that out
    eventually.”

    Perhaps sooner rather than later; the most recent concussion shook the
    third-round draft pick from Georgia Tech. “It was way more intense,” Hargrove
    said. “I couldn’t think or anything. That’s why I knew I had to go sit down.”

    And yet he returned to the game. “Yeah, but I don’t remember playing,” he said.
    “But I saw myself on film. I looked all right.”

    When Rams players suffer head injuries, they must pass a neurological exam
    before they’re cleared for the next game. It took two tries, but Hargrove
    passed and will suit up Sunday. He said he doesn’t plan to alter his aggressive
    approach.

    “I’m not worried at all; some of that comes with the job, really,” he said. “I’
    m just not going to let it affect the way I play. I’m not going in on Sunday
    thinking, ‘I don’t want to hit anybody because I don’t want to get another
    headache.’”


    Torry takes a spin:

    Wide receiver Torry Holt was watching on television Monday night at a Beverly
    Hills restaurant as Dallas rallied to victory in Seattle and shoved the Rams
    back into first placed in the NFC West. “I was going bananas,” Holt said. “I
    know some of the people were looking at me like, ‘What’s going on with this
    guy?’”

    Holt was on the West Coast to appear on “Wheel of Fortune” during the
    long-running TV show’s “NFL Week.” He competed in the charity event against
    Pittsburgh wideout Hines Ward and Philadelphia defensive end Jevon Kearse. “We
    had a blast,” Holt said.

    Holt refused to disclose the results. “I’ll just tell everybody to watch; Jan.
    3 is the date that the show airs,” he said. “Tune in and check it out.”

    Asked by inquiring reporters how letter-turner Vanna White, 47, was doing, Holt
    paused and then said: “Vanna’s OK. Vanna, I’m sure in her prime was very
    stunning. And she looks good now, don’t get me wrong . . . no offense, Vanna.”


    Noteworthy

    Although cornerback DeJuan Groce was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury
    report, he’ll be active Sunday. Groce missed the last two games because of a
    knee injury. . . . Defensive end Tyoka Jackson was back on the field Friday
    after sitting out Thursday’s practice with stomach flu.

  • #2
    Re: Smoker -- not Martin -- will back up Chandler

    Martz on Hargrove on special teams
    “When he goes down there and hits them, he’d probably be better leading with something other than the top of his head,” Martz said. “He’ll figure that out eventually.”
    Hargrove on concusions
    “I’m not worried at all; some of that comes with the job, really,” he said. “I’m just not going to let it affect the way I play. I’m not going in on Sunday thinking, ‘I don’t want to hit anybody because I don’t want to get another headache.’”
    :king: Hargrove is a football player and he isn't afraid of getting hurt, but it will help if he stops using his head so much.

    Ah that Torry, he can't stay away from the spotlight, can he? Try and use some good judgment Torry and keep your clothes on.
    sigpic

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    • RamWraith
      Smoker steps into familiar role as backup
      by RamWraith
      By Bill Coats
      ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
      10/20/2005


      Since he was cut by the Rams on Sept. 3, quarterback Jeff Smoker had tryouts in Indianapolis, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Miami and Buffalo. But he kept his home in St. Louis.

      "I lived here with my girlfriend. We had an apartment and we had all our stuff here," Smoker explained. "So we figured until something else was shaking, we'd just kind of hang here."

      Prudent decision, as it turned out. On Wednesday, the Rams rehired Smoker, a sixth-round draft pick last year, after starting quarterback Marc Bulger suffered a shoulder injury Monday night that will keep him out of the Rams' home game vs. New Orleans on Sunday, and probably longer.

      Jamie Martin takes over with the first team, and rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick - whose strong showing during training camp cost Smoker his job with the Rams - will be the backup. Smoker, signed to the practice squad, returns to the third-quarterback role that he filled throughout the 2004 season.

      "I just want to kind of get back in the swing of things, get back to throwing the football again, get back with the guys and ... basically, just get back into football," said Smoker, who practiced Thursday at Rams Park. "I miss the competition, I miss the guys and the camaraderie."

      Smoker knows that his time here will be based on the length of Bulger's absence. But he said he's optimistic about finding work elsewhere in 2006.

      "I've been having great workouts," he said. "A lot of the teams said they really liked me and that they really wanted me for next year, that they had their three spots filled this year."

      Smoker said it was difficult to keep his arm in shape. "I haven't had much of a chance to throw," he said. "I don't have anybody to throw to, really."

      Not even his girlfriend?

      "Oh, I'd break her nose," he said, laughing.

      Holt nurses bruise

      Wide receiver Torry Holt said his bruised right knee slowed him in the latter stages of the Rams' 45-28 loss Monday at Indianapolis. Holt was the Rams' leading receiver, with six receptions for 70 yards, but he didn't have a catch in the second half.

      "When I first started out, it felt good," he said. "Then as the game went on ... the soreness started to kick in. But I was able to fight through it. I didn't have a whole lot to give late in the fourth quarter."

      Hurt Oct. 9 vs. Seattle, Holt said he expected that continued treatment would get him close to full speed. "Hopefully this week, with more rehab and more work on it, I'll be able to sustain four quarters," he said.

      The Rams' other first-team wideout, Isaac Bruce, "gets better every day," interim head coach Joe Vitt said....
      -10-21-2005, 05:09 AM
    • RamWraith
      Rookies feel challenged, blessed by life in the NFL
      by RamWraith
      By Bill Coats
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      Saturday, Nov. 13 2004

      Rookie linebacker Brandon Chillar sometimes can't help himself. He looks around
      the Rams' locker room at stalls labeled "Faulk," "Bruce," "Holt," "Little" and
      "Pace," and just shakes his head.

      "This is what I've been praying for, this is what I've been working for, this
      is what I've wanted to do for so long," said Chillar, a fourth-round draft
      choice from UCLA. "It's what I asked for, and it's what I got. So, I'm blessed.
      I must be living right or something."

      Chillar is one of 12 first-year players who rise every day and report to Rams
      Park in Earth City. A year ago, they woke up on college campuses and headed for
      class.

      "This is a job; it's not just football," said cornerback Dwight Anderson, an
      undrafted rookie from the University of South Dakota. "You come in here at 6
      o'clock in the morning, and you come to work. It's just like your mom goes to
      work at 7 and comes home at 5. This is our job. ... But it's a fun job."

      Chillar said the commercial aspect of pro football came as a bit of jolt. "You
      start to learn how much of a business the NFL is," he said. "That's one thing
      that I didn't expect so much. Maybe that's just being a dumb rookie."

      But safety Jason Shivers said the NFL experience "is pretty much what I thought
      it would be. You have to get used to the stringent routine, because it's day in
      and day out. You have to really be focused 100 percent of the day. I think
      that's the biggest change" from college football.

      Shivers, a fifth-round pick from Arizona State, has yet to see game action,
      spending most of the season on the practice squad. "It's disappointing because
      I know that I'm better than that," he said. "But all I can do is just keep
      working and hopefully I'll get on the active (roster) and then I can get out
      there and do my thing."

      Others have been asked to contribute right away, despite their first-year
      status. Chillar has started four games; running back Steven Jackson, the team's
      first-round selection (No. 24 overall), is getting steady work spelling
      Marshall Faulk; and third-round pick Anthony Hargrove, an end from Georgia
      Tech, has been filling an increasing role on the defensive line rotation.

      "Things right now are going exceptionally for me, being able to compete on this
      level," said Jackson, an Oregon State product. "All the things I was going to
      deal with, Coach (Mike) Martz and his staff did a great job of exposing me to
      that early on. They kind of let...
      -11-13-2004, 07:03 PM
    • RamWraith
      Smoker wants to compete for the No. 2 QB job
      by RamWraith
      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      01/19/2005

      After a season spent watching and learning, Jeff Smoker wants to compete for the Rams' No. 2 quarterback job in 2005.

      "I'm going to give it a shot," Smoker said. "I feel like I learned a lot this year. I'm going to keep trying to improve my skills in the offseason. I'm going to work hard at it, because I don't really like to sit on the bench. This is the first time I had to do it, and I don't really enjoy it. So I'm going to work hard at getting that No. 2 spot if I can."

      Of course, being the top backup guarantees nothing in terms of playing time. Then again, the Rams had to do without starter Marc Bulger for 2 3/4 games in December after he suffered a bruised throwing shoulder.

      Smoker threw 42 passes in preseason play, or six more than Bulger. But once the regular season started, Smoker was relegated to No. 3 status and never appeared in a game.

      Now that his rookie season's over, Smoker plans to take a couple of weeks off, and then return to St. Louis to work out, study the playbook and begin preparing for next season.

      At the moment, the No. 2 job appears up for grabs. Chris Chandler isn't expected back, and Jamie Martin's contract is up.


      Torry's take


      Wide receiver Torry Holt believes most of the pieces are in place for the Rams' offense to regain its place among the league's elite in 2005.

      "If we continue to patch up our O-line - getting guys healthy is the main thing up front," Holt said. "With the receivers we've got coming back and with Steven (Jackson). ... I think we have an offense that can put up some good numbers, can be effective, and can help this ballclub win games."

      As for any concerns about defense and special teams, Holt said, "I'm going to let the people upstairs handle that. I'm going to let the coaches handle that. It's obvious that we have to improve in those areas."


      Anderson's year


      Dwight Anderson displayed speed, athletic ability and enthusiasm, but he also made a lot of mistakes in his rookie season. Which explains why he was a pregame inactive for four of the Rams' final seven regular-season games, as well as both postseason contests.

      "It was disappointing, but it's a learning curve, too," Anderson said. "I got a chance to really be out there and really see it. Now I kind of understand what (the NFL) is like."

      Anderson, a native of Jamaica, made the Rams roster as an undrafted cornerback from South Dakota. Even with that missed time in the regular season, Anderson finished tied for fifth in special teams tackles with 10.

      He saw spot duty on defense in a few early-season games, and returned kickoffs against Miami on Oct. 24. Rams coaches see promise in Anderson,...
      -01-19-2005, 05:13 AM
    • Guest's Avatar
      Smoker signs
      by Guest
      FYI, i just read in the post dispatch that smoker has signed a three year contract. terms not disclosed. One of the more tech savy guys can post the article. still no news on hargrove.

      ramming speed to all

      general counsel
      -07-27-2004, 04:47 AM
    • RamWraith
      Third Quarterback Competition Heats Up
      by RamWraith
      Thursday, August 18, 2005

      By Nick Wagoner
      Senior Writer

      When Jeff Smoker arrived at the Four Points Sheraton for training camp, he did so knowing that there was going to be plenty of competition at the quarterback position.

      Obviously, the starting job belonged to Marc Bulger, but the idea of competing with Jamie Martin for the second-string job was at the forefront of the second-year signal-callers mind.

      “I didn’t come in here to sit on the bench and I want to get a chance to play so I’m going to shoot for that backup spot,” Smoker said at the time. “Hopefully nothing happens to Marc, but if something does I can get in there and do the job.”

      Well, Smoker was right, there is plenty of competition at quarterback this year, but it isn’t the kind that he expected. With Bulger entrenched as the starter and Martin playing well as the backup, Smoker has finds himself engaged in a dogfight for the third and probably final quarterback spot on the roster.

      In fact, Smoker might have fallen behind in his competition with Harvard rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick, at least if the first preseason game was any indication. In Friday’s game against the Bears, Fitzpatrick was the third quarterback to play, participating in about twice as many plays as Smoker.

      Even in practice, Smoker has just started getting repetitions again in a backup role.

      “It feels good to get in there and get some reps and make a couple mistakes here and there and be able to learn from them,” Smoker said. “One day you can do good and the next day you can do bad again. I’m just trying to steadily improve.”

      With four quarterbacks and probably only three spots to go around, Smoker and Fitzpatrick appear poised to duel it out for the final spot. Fitzpatrick has nudged ahead of Smoker through his ability to retain information and willingness to take a hit in the pocket. While Smoker is probably more physically gifted, he needs to keep up in the classroom.

      Those struggles have limited Smoker’s reps and increased Fitzpatrick’s.

      “I wouldn’t say (I’m) worried,” Smoker said. “It’s just a little bit frustrating sometimes. Having to stand and watch is not something I’m used to. I did it last year and now this year again. It’s harder to learn when you’re watching and not getting the reps. Being the third quarterback during the season that’s what you have to do so I have to learn how to learn that way.”

      Smoker has started to get opportunities in practice again and coach Mike Martz praised him for his practice earlier this week, but he still needs to prove himself. Smoker isn’t sure how much he will play Sunday at San Diego, but with it looking like Bulger could play the whole first half, chances for quarterbacks down on the depth chart might not be too plentiful.

      Regardless, Smoker knows he needs to take advantage of...
      -08-19-2005, 05:35 AM
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