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  • Harris steps up and delivers

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Dec. 12 2004

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Marshall Faulk was dressed but reserved for emergency duty.
    Steven Jackson was in sweats, not even on the 45-man active roster.

    With the Rams' top two backs nursing bruised knees, the running game rested
    solely in the hands of Arlen Harris, a second-year pro who had just one carry
    this year - a 2-yarder last week against San Francisco - before Sunday's game
    at Carolina.

    The offense had all sorts of problems in a 20-7 loss to the Panthers, most
    notably the six interceptions thrown by quarterback Chris Chandler. But don't
    count Harris among the culprits on a day when the Rams were held under 10
    points for the first time in more than two years.

    "He played his heart out," coach Mike Martz said. "I thought he did a terrific
    job running the ball."

    Harris, 5 feet 10 and 212 pounds, turned in a workmanlike performance, rushing
    19 times for 62 yards and catching four passes for 41 yards. His production
    represented 102 of the Rams' 289 total yards.

    "It felt good to get back in the swing of things," Harris said. "In the second
    half, we ran the ball a lot better. But playing from behind, it's a lot

    Harris started twice last season because of injuries to other backs,
    contributing 85 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay, then adding 81 yards
    and three TDs vs. Pittsburgh. The Rams won both those games.

    "He's going to give his maximum effort, and he did that again," said tackle
    Orlando Pace. "It makes us want to do our job that much more." Added guard Adam
    Timmerman: "He ran hard. Offensive line-wise, I wish we could've got more for
    him and got the run game going earlier."

    The Panthers (6-7) bolted to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and were up 20-7
    at the half. At that point, Harris had run for only 18 yards. "They have two
    big guys in the middle (tackles Brentson Buckner and Kindal Moorehead) that
    clog the holes up pretty well," he said, "and with (defensive ends Julius)
    Peppers and (Mike) Rucker on the outside, they were getting upfield pretty

    Harris piled up 43 yards in the second half, 40 on one possession in which he
    carried nine times in a row. But that drive ended when the Rams (6-7) failed to
    convert on fourth and 2 at the Carolina 28-yard line. "I think we were wearing
    them down," Harris said. "We just couldn't get the ball in the end zone."

    That was largely because the interceptions - three in each half - continually
    scuttled their advances. The Rams totaled only 19 fewer yards than Carolina.
    "You can't win when you have that many turnovers," fullback Joey Goodspeed
    said. "That really costs you."

    "This is a tough loss," Pace said. "The defense played well, but offensively,
    we just have to cut out those mistakes and get some points on the board."

    Faulk, who has missed two games, probably will be ready to go on Sunday at
    Arizona. Jackson's status is more uncertain; fluid was drained from his knee
    Sunday for the second time since he was injured last week vs. the *****. "He's
    probably still questionable for next week," Martz said.

    For his part, Harris said he'd be content to return to his reserve role. Or, if
    needed, to carry the full load again.

    "Whenever a situation opens up, I've got to be ready; that's the way it is," he

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Rams will start Harris at running back
    by RamWraith
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Dec. 10 2004

    Arlen Harris is rested, ready and rarin' to go. "They call me 'fresh legs,'"
    Harris said, laughing. "I'll be able to go out there and take some punishment."

    Rookie Steven Jackson and veteran Marshall Faulk are nursing bruised knees and
    will be unable to carry a full load Sunday. So coach Mike Martz said Friday
    that Harris will be in the lineup at running back when the Rams (6-6) meet the
    Carolina Panthers (5-7) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte in a contest
    with heavy playoff implications in the NFC.

    "Arlen will start, and Marshall's ready to go, I think," Martz said. "And
    we'll just see where Steven is on Sunday."

    Jackson, the team's first-round draft pick, started for a gimpy Faulk last
    Sunday and ran for 119 yards on 26 carries in a 16-6 victory over San
    Francisco. Jackson was hurt on his last series, and the knee swelled
    considerably and needed to be drained. Jackson didn't practice all week.

    "We're going to get him back in short order," Martz assured. "If he misses
    this one, I'm sure he'll be back the following week. But I don't know that he
    misses this one. We just have been very, very cautious with him."

    Harris, a second-year pro, has just one carry this year -- a 2-yard jaunt
    against the *****. Still, that brief appearance was helpful, he said. "Just
    being able to touch the ball last week gave me confidence," Harris said. "This
    week, I'll be more comfortable."

    The 5-10, 212-pound Harris made the team last year as an undrafted rookie who
    hadn't played as a college senior because of an eligibility glitch. He was
    productive in two starts, rushing for 85 yards against Green Bay and 81 against
    Pittsburgh in relief of the injured Faulk and Lamar Gordon, who earlier this
    season was traded to Miami.

    "They told me to go about this week like I'm starting, and now that I know I'm
    definitely starting, it's not a problem," said Harris, 24. "I'm definitely
    excited to get an opportunity to run the ball. Being a rookie last year, I was
    a little bit nervous. But now I have a year under my belt, and I feel
    comfortable with the offense. . . .

    "It's a great opportunity. I'll just go out there and do my best, and
    hopefully we don't skip a beat."

    Martz expects that to be the case. "I'm not worried about Arlen at all," he
    said. "He's a terrific runner. He's hard to knock off his feet. He's real
    patient. His run reads are really outstanding. He's a much better player than
    he was a year ago, and he played well...
    -12-11-2004, 07:10 AM
  • RamWraith
    Harris leads Cason in fight for third spot
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Aug. 28 2005

    Will it be Arlen Harris and Aveion Cason when the Rams trim their
    roster to the final 53?

    Or is it an either-or proposition for the two running backs behind Steven
    Jackson and Marshall Faulk on the Rams' depth chart?

    Early in training camp, coach Mike Martz set out the parameters for Harris and

    "One's not going to eliminate the other if they're both playing good," Martz
    said at the time. "Now, if one's playing really good and the other one's not,
    yeah, you eliminate the other guy. But if they're (both) playing good, we're
    going to keep them somehow, some way."

    A decision may not be rendered until the final roster cuts on Sept. 4. But at
    the moment, Harris is the clear-cut leader for the No. 3 running back spot
    ahead of Cason.

    "It's time for Aveion to relax and be himself," running backs coach Wilbert
    Montgomery said. "Every day that goes by and every practice that goes by, the
    window keeps shrinking. You're in a competitive situation. You're trying to
    fight for a spot on the team. At some point, the light's got to go on in the
    room so you can see everything, and you've got to come out of the dark."

    Cason realizes he has to make something happen in the Rams' final two
    exhibition games, beginning tonight in Detroit.

    "I feel like I do," he said. "I feel like I have to go out and make some plays,
    either if it's on special teams or on offense."

    Cason, 26, carried six times for only 7 yards in the exhibition opener against
    Chicago. He did not carry from scrimmage last week in San Diego.

    In two exhibition games, Harris, 25, has gained 67 yards on 19 carries,
    including a 10-for-40 effort against the Chargers that included an impressive
    33-yard run.

    Cason also has been outperformed on kickoff returns so far. He has a 19.3-yard
    average on four returns, while cornerback Terry Fair has averaged 22.8 yards on
    six returns.

    Harris, who was the Rams' primary kickoff return man until giving way to Cason
    late last season, hasn't returned a kickoff this preseason. But that could
    change tonight in Detroit, and Harris is eager for any return duty.

    "That's something that I like to do," Harris said. "I feel I'm at a great
    playing weight for it."

    Harris bulked up to nearly 230 pounds last year because the Rams planned to try
    him at fullback. "It was just too much weight," Harris said. "I had a lot of
    different injuries and pulls."

    Those fullback plans never really materialized,...
    -08-29-2005, 04:50 AM
  • RamWraith
    The Rams' Harris enjoyed his time in the spotlight
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Nov. 28 2004

    The capricious nature of life in the NFL is hitting home for the Rams' Arlen
    Harris. A year ago as a rookie, he was a key contributor in a 34-24 victory
    over the Packers, rushing for 85 yards and his first pro touchdown.

    But unless catastrophe suddenly strikes the backfield, Harris' only chance to
    touch the ball Monday night in Green Bay will be lugging back kickoffs. That's
    his primary duty - he's averaged 20.6 yards on 33 returns - now that he's the
    Rams' third-team running back.

    "That's the way the NFL is," said Harris, 5 feet 10 and 212 pounds. "But at the
    same time, you've still got to be prepared. Like last year, I wouldn't have
    thought I'd have that much playing time, with Marshall Faulk and Lamar
    (Gordon). But things happened."

    When the Packers arrived at the Edward Jones Dome on Oct. 19, 2003, Faulk was
    out with hand and knee injuries. Gordon went down early in the first quarter
    with a sprained ankle, and Harris was the next option.

    He started the following two games before Faulk returned.

    For an undrafted rookie who sat out his senior season at Hofstra and came to
    camp as a long shot to make the roster, Harris had came a long way in a short

    He called the Green Bay game "the start of it all. It gave me a lot of
    confidence. I got a chance to run the ball a whole lot, with Marshall and Lamar
    down. I'll always remember that game."

    Harris got only two carries over the last half of the schedule. And when the
    Rams took Oregon State running back Steven Jackson in the first-round (No. 24
    overall) of the draft last April, Harris knew that he was headed back for the
    bottom of the depth chart. He's yet to line up in the backfield this year.

    "It's just common sense," he said. "(Jackson) was the first back taken, and
    that's just the way the chips fell. You want more of it, but it's not hard to
    accept at all. ... So I just have to be ready and do my best on special teams."

    All the while biding his time until his next chance comes.

    "Everybody has to have that mentality; no one's excluded from getting their
    spot taken or getting hurt," he said. "A lot of people have to wait five, six
    years for their opportunity. I just have to make sure I'm ready."
    -11-28-2004, 04:41 AM
  • RamWraith
    Bulkier Harris hopes to climb charts
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    MACOMB, Ill. - Rams running back Arlen Harris knows that barring catastrophe, he'll be on the 53-man roster when the season opens Sept. 12. But that doesn't mean he's on cruise control at training camp.

    "You're trying to climb up the charts," he said. "You definitely can't relax."

    A year ago, Harris came to Western Illinois University as an undrafted rookie, signed as a free agent after an impressive showing at the Paradise Bowl in Las Vegas, an "all-star" game in which NFL scouts evaluate college seniors. A consensus All-American as a high school senior in Garfield Heights, Ohio, Harris endured three injury-plagued three seasons at Virginia, then transferred to Hofstra for his senior year.

    An eligibility issue kept him off the field that year, and he fell off the NFL radar. But when given a chance by the Rams, he responded: Other than starting linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, no rookie had a greater impact on the team last season than Harris. He played in all 16 games, with two starts, rushing for 255 yards and four touchdowns, catching 15 passes for 102 yards, and averaging 23 yards on 51 kickoff returns.

    "I knew my abilities," Harris said. "It was just a matter of going out there and making some plays. This year, I'm just going to try to build on it."

    He started by building his body. Harris, who played at about 212 pounds last season, has bulked up to about 225. Coach Mike Martz ordered the extra weight so that Harris, No. 3 on the depth chart at tailback, can fill in at fullback and pair up with Marshall Faulk in the backfield in certain situations. "They're trying to use me in a lot of different ways in the offense," Harris said.

    Martz said, "He went to work in the offseason, and with that added girth and weight, he also increased his speed. When that happened, he really got our attention, because he's got some real live ability in terms of reading and cutting and breaking tackles and all those things. He's way ahead of where he was a year ago physically, and I think that's terrific."

    Harris' solid rookie season not only solidified his spot on team, it gave his psyche a lift, too.

    "I just feel so much more confident and have such a better understanding of the offense," he said. "I feel like I can be more effective."

    Rams take
    slow approach

    The Rams were scheduled to work out in full pads Sunday morning, but because the injury list continues to mount, Martz decided to keep them in shells for both practices.

    "We did a study on this, and usually in Day 5, 6 and 7, that's when you really sustain a lot of your injuries in camp," he explained. "That is the red-hot time. You just kind of...
    -08-02-2004, 07:12 AM
  • Nick
    Rams-Panthers: 5 Things To Watch
    by Nick
    Rams-Panthers: 5 Things To Watch
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Comings and Goings

    Since the Rams' move to St. Louis in 1995, only 11 teams have rushed for 200 or more yards against them. Carolina became one of those teams last Jan. 10, in its double-overtime playoff victory over the Rams. The Rams were outgained on the ground 216 yards to 64 on the ground. The Rams must balance out those rushing totals Sunday, or it's going to be a long day. At least Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster won't be able to kick the run defense around. They're both on injured reserve. But the Panthers always seem to find a way to run the football, even if it's Nick Goings doing the running.

    Goings began the season as the Panthers' No. 2 fullback. But he has topped 100 yards rushing three weeks in a row, including a team-high 122 yards last week in New Orleans.

    "He's a north-south runner," Rams DT Ryan Pickett said. "He just gets the ball and runs right down hill. And the holes usually open for him."

    Goings isn't very fast. He has decent size (6-0, 225). He's a blue-collar player who's making the most of his opportunity.

    The Rams are hoping for a similar approach and similar results Sunday from Arlen Harris, who's making his first start of the season in place of the injured Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson, who both have bruised knees. It wouldn't be surprising to see Faulk get some spot duty - maybe more if Harris struggles. But Jackson appears to be in no position to play, walking stiff-legged and not practicing all week.

    Everything's Jake

    Last season's Cajun sensation, Panthers QB Jake Delhomme has been counted on to carry more of the load on offense because of the injuries at running back. Delhomme's completion percentage was down, and his interception total up, early in the season. But like the Carolina team as a whole, Delhomme has been doing a lot of things right lately.

    Over the past six games, he has a 100.2 passer rating, with 13 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. And he's been able to get the ball down field. Over the past five games, the Panthers have 23 pass plays of 20 yards or more. That's a league high over that stretch - one more than the Rams.

    "He's got the big arm," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "He has that Brett Favre type of arm. He can zing it down the field, and has terrific accuracy."

    The Moose is loose

    Last year at this time, the talk in Carolina was about dumping WR Muhsin Muhammad. His production was down. He was dropping passes. And Steve Smith had developed into Delhomme's favorite target. But Carolina kept Muhammad around, and it's a good thing. Smith suffered a season-ending broken leg in the 2004 opener.

    Muhammad has responded by playing...
    -12-12-2004, 12:56 AM