As the Rams get ready to face a highly competitive tandem of receivers in Joe Horn and Donte’ Stallworth, they made a key move in the secondary by adding 10-year veteran Kwamie Lassiter and moving Aeneas Williams back to corner. The shifting of Williams to his original position results in the starting of Rams seventh-year man Rich Coady on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Although the absence of All-Pro running back Deuce McAllister will not outlaw the Saints running game, expect Aaron Brooks and the Saints to test the Rams secondary throughout the game.
Lassiter spent the majority of his career with the Arizona Cardinals, teaming up with current defensive coordinator Larry Marmie and Williams. He had two standout years in his days spent with the Cardinals coming up with eight interceptions in ’98 and nine interceptions in ’01. Having a veteran who knows where to be in Marmie’s defensive system complementing the pass rush should solve the Rams’ two-week takeaway drought.
"(Lassiter) understands the system. He played in it a number of years and is familiar with Larry (Marmie) and the system. He should be able to come in immediately and play in some packages. He should fit in easily, I think, in what we're trying to do," said head coach Mike Martz.
The first question to arise concerns his age; Lassiter will turn 35 at the end of December. However, defensive backs have put a stamp on the NFL for having long careers. Just ask Rod Woodson, Darrell Green and of course Deion Sanders how they felt, or feel at 37. Lassiter says, “I’m good. I’m ready to play. I want to get out there and learn this defense so I can play fast and help them wherever they need help.”
After seeing him in practice Martz said “He’s in good shape, he’s not gassed or anything,” and that, “you don’t worry about him back there making errors.”
Lassiter will get a lot of playing time in nickel and dime packages and will help on special teams. Coady is excited to get the start saying, “Anytime you get a chance to go out there and start, and play the full game, it’s always better when you’re on the field rather than on the sideline.”
Coady has done just about everything for the Rams defense; free safety, strong safety, and special teams. He has never really been a standout player, but for the most part, he seems to get his job done.
Losing Travis Fisher is an obvious loss in the secondary for the Rams. According to Martz, he and DeJuan Groce are expected to come back within the next few weeks. With the addition of Lassiter, the Rams secondary could very well make a turnaround in the second half of the season.
It has been mentioned that having Williams on the sideline is great for the Rams’ young secondary. Adding another seasoned veteran to the roster should just provide more help in the development of the defensive backs. They are both hard-core competitors and expect more than 100 percent out of themselves. Although the combined age of Williams and Lassiter is 70, neither of the two should be overlooked. So don’t chalk this weekend up as a loss. After all, the Vegas line has stayed on 7 points all week.