Sunday, June 24, 2007

Team Releases Three to Trim Roster to 86

By Bill Coats

The Rams pared their roster to 86 players Friday when they released undrafted rookies Stanley Daniels, a guard from Washington; Terrance Reaves, a cornerback from Villanova; and David Thompson, a guard from Massachusetts.

The team also no longer is listing running back Marshall Faulk on its roster, although his retirement still isn't official, according to Jay Zygmunt, the team's president of football operations.

Faulk announced his intention to retire three months ago at the NFL owners' meeting in Phoenix, but the paperwork with the league hasn't been filed. Zygmunt said he expected it to be completed next month.

NFL teams must be down to 75 players by Aug. 28 and 53 by Sept. 1.

Parquet picked

The Rams' Jeremy Parquet has been selected to the All-NFL Europe team. Parquet, 6 feet 6 and 321 pounds, started all 10 games at right tackle for the Hamburg Sea Devils. Hamburg meets the Frankfurt Galaxy today in the World Bowl, the championship game of the six-team developmental league.

Parquet, 25, is a third-year pro from Southern Mississippi. Kansas City drafted him in the seventh round in 2005; he suited up for two games that season but didn't play. KC released him at the end of training camp last year, and the Rams signed him in November. He was inactive for the season's last five games.

Others named to the All-NFL Europe squad include linebacker Matt Sinclair (St. Louis University High, Illinois) and cornerback Shirdonya Mitchell (Missouri). Sinclair is a free agent; Mitchell is with the Miami Dolphins.

Hill improves

Cornerback Tye Hill reports that the staph infection on his leg that kept him out of minicamp earlier this month is improving and that he'll be ready to go when training camp opens. "I feel pretty good," Hill said Friday. "It's clearing up; it's almost gone."

Camp schedule

The Rams will hold training camp at Rams Park for the third year in a row, and Scott Linehan is planning to use the same schedule as last summer when he was a rookie head coach.

The players report July 26 and will practice for the first time the next day. Linehan again will alternate two-practice days (morning and evening) with one-practice days (afternoon).

"It's really conducive to veteran players being able to recover and not miss any time; they're able to take in all the snaps," he said. "Plus, you're able to get some heat relief by having that night practice on the two-a-day, but get the heat work on the one-a-day by working in the heat of the day."

The team plans to open the morning and afternoon practices to the public. Night practices will be closed.

A quick study

Rookie defensive tackle Clifton Ryan, a fifth-round pick from Michigan State, said he's intent on learning as much as he can as quickly as he can from defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, line coach Brian Baker and 12-year veteran La'Roi Glover. "I'm just a white sheet of paper," Ryan quipped, "and I'm taking notes."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lack of Experience on Defensive Line May Be a Gamble


Only five of 13 defensive linemen on the Rams' current roster boast more than one year of NFL experience. The eight others include five rookies — draft picks Adam Carriker, Clifton Ryan and Keith Jackson, plus free agents Alton Pettway and Ryan Willis.

Second-year coach Scott Linehan might not seem like a gambler, but he's ready to roll the dice in this vital area. "We've kind of taken a leap of faith with some of these younger players," he acknowledged.

The No. 1 challenge for the Rams defensively is improving against the run. They were 31st in the 32-team league in that category last year and ranked no higher than 15th in any of the past five seasons. During that span, their overall record was 42-41.

In contrast, the Rams were the best in the league vs. the run in 1999, when they won the Super Bowl. They were No. 3 two years later, when they lost in the title game. Their combined record those two seasons was 32-6.

The team's commitment to new faces on the defensive line was underscored Friday when Jimmy Kennedy was traded to the Denver Broncos. Kennedy was the Rams' first-round draft choice (No. 12 overall) in 2003; he brought only a sixth-round pick in '08.

Kennedy never fulfilled the promise of a first-rounder. But he did start all 16 games last season at nose tackle, a position that Linehan said only a few weeks ago he expected Kennedy to fill again in 2007.

Yet once the coaches got an extended look at the newcomers, they decided that Kennedy was expendable.

Carriker's rapid development was key in prompting that conclusion. The 6-foot-6, 296-pounder played defensive end at Nebraska, but the Rams pegged him as a tackle from the beginning.

"He's really got a natural feel for playing inside," Linehan said. "Sometimes we'll have him at the three (-technique), sometimes at the nose, or we could go right and left if we think it'll utilize his skills more. But right now, he's handling both tackle positions with relative ease."

As the Rams head into their full-squad minicamp this week, Carriker is the first-team nose tackle. Ryan and Jackson back him up, and Tim Sandidge, who is playing in NFL Europe, also could figure in.

La'Roi Glover and Claude Wroten are expected to share the duties at the other tackle spot. The Rams want to limit Glover's reps in his 12th NFL season, and Wroten's progress after a spotty rookie year apparently will make that possible.

"He had an excellent offseason, as far as his training and preparation," Linehan said. "He understands a lot more what we're trying to get done."

Leonard Little returns at left end after piling up 13 sacks last year — the second-highest total in his nine seasons. James Hall, acquired from Detroit for a fifth-round draft pick, is the projected starter on the right side, although his work has been limited as he recovers from shoulder surgery.

Linehan had been seeking a strong pass rusher to complement Little, and he believes that he has his man. Hall recorded five sacks last year in only seven games before he was injured, boosting his seven-year total to 33. He collected a personal-best 11½ in 2004.

"Leonard had a very impressive year, considering he was getting double- and triple-teamed most of the time," Linehan said. "To be able to put somebody on the other side that has the capability to give you similar things as Leonard does takes a lot of pressure off of him."

Victor Adeyanju, who was putting together a strong rookie season before breaking an arm, and Eric Moore provide depth. Trevor Johnson and undrafted rookies Alton Pettway and Ryan Willis also will be vying for roster spots.

Linehan would like to find another veteran end. And, in the wake of the Kennedy trade, the Rams are expected to seek a tackle, via free agency or trade.

"I would say that that door is wide open; if there's somebody we'd be interested in, we'd do it," Linehan said. "One thing I've learned is that the roster gets put together over the entire year. You have free agency, the draft ... a lot of things happen."