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  • McCollum enjoys demands Rams place on the center

    McCollum enjoys demands Rams place on the center
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    The sight last summer at Lake of the Ozarks had to have been bizarre: There was 6-foot-2, 310-pound Rams guard Adam Timmerman piloting a jet ski and towing 6-4, 300-pound teammate Andy McCollum around on a big rubber tube.

    "I had him airborne a few times, which is a pretty amazing feat in and of itself," Timmerman said. "He kept saying, 'Faster, faster.' I was just doing what I was told."

    Not so, McCollum countered. "He was trying really hard to hurt me," said McCollum, who lines up at center alongside Timmerman. "He was whipping me around there pretty fast."

    Asked if the spectacle drew a few stares, Timmerman laughed and said, "I don't know ... but it should have."

    According to coach Mike Martz, McCollum should be attracting attention around the NFL, too. "I keep saying this - and I've said it since the beginning of the year: He really is having a Pro Bowl year," Martz said. "He's playing out there on another level."

    McCollum, 34, never has earned an all-star berth in 10 NFL seasons. "I don't have the big name out there that a lot of players do," he said. "I never made a big splash in the newspapers with a big signing or something. So, I never thought it was even something that might happen."

    And if it should ...

    "I don't know; I've never really thought about it," McCollum said. "During the season, we're just concentrating on how to get this team to win (every week). But who knows? If it happens, come ask me then."

    Evaluating offensive linemen - particularly the interior positions - is difficult for all but the most skilled observers. The Rams ask more of their center than most teams, and McCollum handles the varied responsibilities with few glitches, said his position coach, John Matsko.

    Beyond snapping the ball and blocking 300-pound-plus defenders, the Rams rely on McCollum to make adjustment calls at the line of scrimmage, a task that most NFL teams turn over to the quarterback. "He doesn't get stumped very often out there," Timmerman said.

    "He's a student of the game," said Matsko, who has coached McCollum for nine years, six in St. Louis and three in New Orleans. "He understands our concepts, he understands what the matchups are, and he gets our people on the right people. It takes a lot of work to do that, and he's willing to pay the price during the week, invest the time, so that we're at our best on Sunday.

    "Andy's been very dependable, extremely reliable ... you trust him."

    Said veteran guard Chris Dishman: "It's a lot more mental than people think, and that's the biggest difference between a center and a guard or a tackle. They really have to know their game, and they basically tell us which way to go. They set the defenses up. ... He's easy to work with, and he communicates really well on the field."

    McCollum holds a sports administration degree from the University of Toledo and was an academic All-Mid-American Conference first-teamer. He said the cerebral demands of the position appeal to him.

    "You look at film all week long and you see what they do and what they've done," he said. "A lot of times they'll come up with new stuff against us, because we do so many different things (on offense). You've got to come up with a way to block it when you're out there on the field, and you've only got a few seconds to do so.

    "I enjoy that kind of thing. ... Well, I enjoy it when we get it done right."

    Rookie Larry Turner, who backs up McCollum, said there's more to the package than just a sharp mind. "At center, you've got a great big guy sitting right there in your face," Turner noted. "You can't go up and just bull a guy, because he'll swing you this way or rip you that way. You've got to have good feet and good hands, and you've got to be able to stay in a perfect football position.

    "You've got to have good technique, and Andy's a perfect technician."

    Hardly perfect, McCollum insisted. "Every week there's something out there that I screw up, something that I could fix, something that I could do better," he said. "I try to go into the next week of practice with a goal to correct those things."

    After the Rams signed free-agent center Dave Wohlabaugh, McCollum started all 16 games last year at left guard. When Wohlabaugh was ruled out for the 2004 season because of a hip ailment, McCollum moved back to center - to his relief.

    "I enjoy it more at center," he said. "With the guys that we have, we get along great. They know what I'm talking about, even if do it real late or if I spit out some call that isn't perfect. It works out great."

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  • RamWraith
    McCollum adjusts to life without 'Doughnut Brother'
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats

    From the very genesis of their tenure with the Rams, Andy McCollum and Adam Timmerman were overshadowed.
    On Feb. 15, 1999, a day after Timmerman was signed as a free agent, the Rams picked up St. Louisan Trent Green and pronounced him their starting quarterback. Exactly two months later -- and just 48 hours after McCollum agreed to a free-agent deal -- the Rams made another splash by trading for Colts running back Marshall Faulk.

    "Offensive linemen," McCollum said with a smile. "None of us are the stars of the team."

    Maybe not, but McCollum and Timmerman still played key roles in the sudden offensive surge that helped the Rams earn two Super Bowl berths and one championship.

    For seven seasons, they lined up together, Timmerman at right guard and McCollum at either left guard or center. Off the field, the fun-loving "Doughnut Brothers" enjoyed a tight bond: It was rare to see one without the other at Rams Park; they were roommates on the road, and their families often vacationed together.

    They even mirrored each other in size, both listed at 6 feet 4 and 300 pounds.

    They came in together, and they wanted to go out together. "That would be the ideal thing, to spend the last season playing side by side," Timmerman said.

    That ambition began to unravel in the second quarter of opener last year vs. Denver, when McCollum, who hadn’t missed a game with the Rams, suffered a season-ending knee injury.

    In Week 10, Timmerman broke three ribs at Carolina. He took one snap off to catch his breath, then re-entered the game. He mustered through the next three weeks, but his consecutive-games streak of 184 came to an end when coach Scott Linehan inactivated him Dec. 17 at Oakland.

    Timmerman, 35, was released in February. He hasn’t caught on with another team yet.

    Meanwhile, McCollum, 36, not only is attempting to come back from a major injury and for the first time in several years is facing a serious challenge to his job, he’s also having to adjust to NFL life without Timmerman at his side.

    "Going out on the field without Adam is strange," McCollum said. "We’ve been playing together for a long time."

    Even stranger, he said, is not having Timmerman keeping the atmosphere loose in meetings and attacking the chow line with him.

    "We don’t have his bad jokes going in the meetings all the time now. I definitely miss that," McCollum said. "And his eating ability . . . no one really can eat food like Adam could. He’s hard to replace as an eating partner; no one wants to eat with the old man."

    But the oddest experience was seeing rookie center Dustin Fry wearing a jersey with 62 -– Timmerman’s old number...
    -05-23-2007, 05:15 AM
  • HUbison
    Belly up! McCollum is proud of his
    by HUbison
    Belly up! McCollum is proud of his

    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Andy McCollum insists he's not the only Ram with a big belly: "These guys are just afraid to show theirs."

    Players come and go. Coaches, too. Storylines change, as do the team’s fortunes. But for seven summers now, there has been one constant to Rams training camp:

    When the temperature goes up, so does the front of Andy McCollum’s jersey, exposing a large . . . pale . . . belly.

    “When the flap’s up, it’s definitely for temperature relief,” offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. “When it reaches a certain temperature, it comes up.”

    Amazingly, once the flap is up, the jersey almost never falls down. Not in one-on-one pass-blocking drills. Not in 11-on-11 “team” periods. Not in technique drills. The jersey stays up and the belly stays out, massaged by the summer breeze.

    “It actually works, and he obviously has no inhibition to show it,” offensive guard Tom Nutten said. “I think it has some kind of a gravitational pull, because everything does go towards him. That’s why he is the center, and he is in the middle.”

    The sight was unnerving to teammates, coaches, and onlookers alike when McCollum, a center from Akron, Ohio, joined the Rams in 1999.

    “The first time I saw it, it was like a car wreck,” Timmerman said. “I just couldn’t take my eyes off of it.”

    “It’s a spectacle,” coach Mike Martz concedes.

    As Nutten puts it: “It’s big, and it’s white, and it’s just right there.”

    It’s big, all right. Which raises the question, if some people have six-pack abs, how would one categorize McCollum’s stomach?

    “A keg,” Timmerman said. “Or Coors Light used to have the Party Ball. Something like that. It’s really quite round when you look at it.”

    Over the years, teammates have teased him about it. Coaches have chastised him over it.

    “I told him today, ‘Cover that belly up,’ ” offensive line coach John Matsko said recently. “ ‘Please. All the fans are here, watching that big belly you got.’ ”

    McCollum remains unfazed and set in his ways.

    “Don’t let anybody fool you,” he said. “I’m not the only guy here with a big belly. These guys are just afraid to show theirs. I’m kind of proud of mine. I worked hard on it.”

    Grudgingly, some teammates and coaches have come to appreciate it.

    “I think it’s a trophy,” Martz said. “It’s taken him many years to get to that point and develop it. That’s a lot of hard work there.”

    Lately, McCollum has spawned imitators. Second-year center Larry Turner, for example, has been noticed lifting his jersey during practice to expose his stomach this training camp.

    “He’s a wannabe,” McCollum sniffs. “He was trying to tell me how...
    -08-19-2005, 09:22 AM
  • RamWraith
    McCollum Out to Prove Himself Again
    by RamWraith
    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    As Andy McCollum limped off the field early in the season opener against Denver last year, the thought crossed his mind that it might be his last time on an NFL playing field.

    “I thought of that a little bit when I was walking off the field there, but I was ticked off at the time because they wouldn’t let me go back out there,” McCollum said. “But I figured I had to come back, I’m not going to let it finish on this crappy note.”

    That crappy note was a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee suffered in the season’s opening moments. At 36, an injury like that usually spells the end of a career.

    But McCollum couldn’t really fathom the thought of having to make his NFL exit after 13 seasons without going on his own terms.

    Fast forward to the opening of the team’s full squad minicamp opening Tuesday afternoon and there was McCollum lining up in his usual center spot with the first-team offense. Of course, McCollum wasn’t the only center taking repetitions with the first team offense.

    Brett Romberg, who filled in at the end of the season and did an admirable job in McCollum’s place, is splitting the time with the “ones,” at least for now and probably through training camp.

    “They finished well (with Romberg), certainly the group that finished the season played very well,” coach Scott Linehan said. “But Andy is back and when we put the pads on and start training camp there will be center competition there.”

    The fact that McCollum is back and ready to compete is a testament to the toughness of one of the true warriors on the Rams’ roster. Considering the amount of change since McCollum last lined up on the field, it would have been easy for McCollum to simply walk away after suffering such a devastating injury.

    McCollum did his best to stay involved with the team while he was hurt. He helped instruct his original replacement, Richie Incognito, and later Romberg on some of the finer points of playing center in the league.

    And it was obviously hard for McCollum to handle not being on the field every day and being forced to watch his teammates go to work without him. Of course, he had close friend and teammate Adam Timmerman to lean on when things got tough.

    Still, other than the initial reaction to the injury, McCollum never considered walking away.

    “For me, it wasn’t really that bad,” McCollum said. “It was just tedious to rehab every day and try to be able to get on the field and when you are separated from the team that kind of thing.”

    It didn’t hurt that McCollum took a different approach to surgery than many of the players that have suffered the same injuries. Instead of immediately having surgery on the knee, he waited about six weeks. ...
    -06-12-2007, 05:47 PM
  • RamWraith
    McCollum is planning to fight for center job
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Wednesday, Jun. 13 2007

    At age 37 and coming off major knee surgery, it looked very much as if Andy
    McCollum was nearing the end of the line in professional football. If he were a
    dinosaur, the next stop would be the tar pits.

    But McCollum, a brontosaurus-size center, seems intent on avoiding professional
    extinction. As the Rams' offense broke the huddle Tuesday — the first day of
    the team's full-squad minicamp — McCollum was snapping the ball to quarterback
    Marc Bulger with the first offensive unit.

    It was widely assumed that Brett Romberg, who started the last three games of
    the 2006 season at center, would begin '07 as the starter. Romberg rotated in
    with the first unit Tuesday. But with McCollum's left knee healthy, it looks as
    if center will be one of the team's most hotly contested positions when
    training camp opens in late July.

    "Certainly the group that we finished the season with played very well," Rams
    coach Scott Linehan said. "But Andy's back. When we put the pads on and we
    start training camp, we'll resume the center competition there."

    McCollum has been cleared to practice since mid-May.

    "I'm doing all the reps. All the workouts, and the drills. Everything,"
    McCollum said. "It feels like it's 100 percent."

    McCollum had been a fixture on the Rams' offensive line before he suffered the
    injury in the '06 opener, against Denver. He had started every regular season
    and postseason game for the Rams this decade — 104 contests in all — until the
    injury. With the exception of the 2003 season, when he played left guard, and
    one game at right guard in 2000, all of those starts have been at center.

    But the injury put McCollum's career in doubt. For a few moments right after
    the injury, he considered retiring. Then he quickly came to the conclusion
    that he didn't want to end his career on such a downer — sitting out his final
    season with an injury. So here he is, one of only six players remaining from
    the Rams' 1999 Super Bowl championship season, back for his 14th NFL campaign.

    Against the Broncos, McCollum tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral
    ligaments in his left knee. He waited more than a month before undergoing

    "I'm real glad I didn't do this just a few years ago, because they used to
    slice them open down the side," McCollum said. "There was a lot more rehab, and
    they'd (operate) right away. But now they wait like six weeks. You wait so that
    the MCL can heal up a little bit, so the swelling goes down and you've got
    (range of) motion. It worked good for me."

    -06-13-2007, 05:47 AM
  • RamWraith
    Two 'peas in a pod' are mainstays
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas

    Since the start of the 1999 season and the amazing run to the Super Bowl XXXIV title, the Rams haven't played a single game without the Donut Bros. - Adam Timmerman and Andy McCollum.

    In fact, right guard Timmerman has started all but one game - regular season and postseason - over that span. Over the same period, McCollum has started 98 of 112 regular-season games and nine of 10 playoff contests - mostly at center.

    But both players were banged up last season. Both players are in their mid-30s. And in case you haven't noticed, there's a new coaching staff in town, with its own ideas about personnel.

    So while it's difficult to imagine a St. Louis Rams offensive line without McCollum and Timmerman, coach Scott Linehan broached that very subject at the start of training camp last week.

    "We've got some guys who are towards the end of their career, with Andy and Adam," Linehan said. "We're certainly glad to still have them, but we also know that there are some young guys that have been brought here for a reason, and they're going to be pushing for starting roles. So everybody knows they've got to play at a high level to keep that spot."

    All of which sounds very much like a challenge.

    "(Linehan) hasn't been around us, and doesn't know what we're all about," said Timmerman, who turns 35 next month. "So I think there is kind of a proving period. We have to come out and re-prove ourselves so he knows what you're all about; so he knows that you're tough and you can do the assignments, and do them better than anyone behind you."

    McCollum, who turned 36 last month, says he always comes to training camp with that mindset.

    "You've got to prove yourself every year," said McCollum, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Cleveland in 1994. "You've got to make sure that you show everyone that you're the man, the best man for the job."

    In the opening days of camp, McCollum has been backed up by Larry Turner at center. Behind Timmerman at right guard is Claude Terrell, who started 10 games at left guard a year ago.

    "The interior of our offensive line will be a very highly contested battle to see who we end up with on the 10th," Linehan said, in reference to the Sept. 10 season opener against Denver. "I don't foresee anything unusual happening, but if somebody steps up and plays good, you reward people with performance by moving them up the depth chart."

    At face value, it may be a jolt when the head coach pronounces you near the end of the line, but Timmerman shrugged off the notion.

    "Well, I probably could have told him that I'm closer to the end than to the beginning,...
    -08-01-2006, 05:58 AM