Rams tackle DT woes with seasoned vets

Posted July 09, 2010 @ 2:50 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

After supposedly very seriously considering the selection of either Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft before opting for Sam Bradford, more than a few eyebrows were raised at Rams Park when the team failed to use any of its 11 picks on a defensive tackle.

How could that happen, many close to the team wondered, with the team entering the offseason having really only one player who could be considered a legitimate starting tackle in fourth-year pro Clifton Ryan — not counting former first-rounder Adam Carriker, whose injury issues turned him into a virtual nonfactor?

"I still say it really was a deep draft at defensive tackle," Rams GM Billy Devaney told the local media shortly after the draft. "It just seemed that when our time came up, there really weren't any defensive tackles. It wasn't like we ignored that position … we just had other guys graded higher."

Which led to an altogether different DT mindset — acquiring experienced quantity at the position, as opposed to highly regarded but totally unproven quality.

The alternatives head coach Steve Spagnuolo will be counting on to fortify the Rams' defensive interior are a pair of newly acquired veterans originally drafted by the Vikings — 33-year-old Fred Robbins and 32-year-old Chris Hovan.

While both players' best years are clearly behind them, we're told the Rams' braintrust genuinely believes they each still have a lot to offer to a DT rotation that is also expected to include the hardworking Ryan and two other players who have displayed flashes of potential, Darell Scott and Gary Gibson.

At the very least, Robbins and Hovan would appear to offer quality veteran leadership, particularly Robbins, who was at his best playing under Spagnuolo in a two-year span with the Giants in which he registered 78 tackles and 11 sacks.

Team sources tell us Robbins, who was signed to a three-year deal worth up to roughly $12 million, has wasted little time making a strong impression on the Rams' impressionable young defensive linemen.

"That's what he (Spagnuolo) expects from me," Robbins said in a late-May minicamp. "Being someone who's been successful with the system, I feel like I can bring a lot to the table in letting guys know how the coaches want things done up front."


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