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Weekly Opponent News & Notes: St. Louis Rams
The Rams will reportedly send a sixth-round pick in 2011 to the Ravens and receive a seventh-rounder from Baltimore.
Clayton became expendable when the Ravens reached an agreement with WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Clayton will be playing under terms of the restricted free-agent tender of $2.277 million that he signed with the Ravens.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said of Clayton, "You never reach a point when it's easy to release or trade a player you respect. Everyone here has the highest regard for Mark. He'll help the Rams, and it's good for him that they reached out to get him.
"Mark is a good person who did everything he could to help the Ravens on and off the field. In the end, we have to do what we think is best for the team, but letting Mark go hurts. He was first class all the way, even when we met with him about the trade. This is a tough part of the business."
Said Clayton, "It's a business. You always know that going into anything. I'm excited. It's a great opportunity. I want to take advantage of it and contribute right away."
On leaving Baltimore, he said, "I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the organization. I had so many great relationships. I did a lot of growing up and maturing here. Now, it's time for me to move on. I'm going to miss everybody."
Clayton suffered a concussion in the Ravens' Aug. 28 game against the Giants, and hasn't practiced or played since then. However, Baltimore had just two practices and a walk-through before their final preseason game against the Rams last Thursday.
--In addition to nine of their 11 draft picks that made the roster as the first practice of the week was held Monday, the Rams also had five rookie undrafted free agent on the team. That gave them 14 rookies among the 53 players.
The undrafted free agents were QB Thaddeus Lewis, RB Keith Toston, WR Dominique Curry, S Darian Stewart and DT Jermelle Cudjo.
On Saturday, the Rams had a short practice, and some players were being tapped on the shoulder to be given the bad news.
Said Toston, "My head was on a swivel. I kept hoping no one walked up to me."
Saying how he believed he continued improving throughout the preseason, Toston said, "Coach (Sylvester) Croom helped me out a whole lot. I feel I got better every game."
In the preseason finale against Baltimore, Toston had 47 yards on 10 carries.
Lewis said he knew he had made the team when coach Steve Spagnuolo entered the quarterbacks meeting room before practice, mostly to inform them that Sam Bradford would be the starter. Spagnuolo told the trio, that also included A.J. Feeley, they would be the three quarterbacks on the roster.
Keith Null was not in the room, but Lewis didn't take anything for granted until he was told, knowing he could have been ticketed for the practice squad if the team decided to have just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.
"You never know," Lewis said.
Said Spagnuolo, "Those guys (undrafted free agents) earned it. We kept what we felt were our best football players."
--At one point in the preseason, it appeared as if WR Brandon Gibson might have an uphill battle making the roster. A hamstring injury limited him during OTAs, and also cost him several practices in training camp and the first two games of the preseason.
But Gibson got healthy, played well in the final two games, and then more opportunity developed when Donnie Avery tore the ACL in his knee in the third preseason game against New England.
Gibson had four receptions for 40 yards, including a leaping touchdown catch in the end zone.
Asked about Gibson and WR Keenan Burton, Spagnuolo said, "Keenan is a pro. He is what you want all your guys to be like on and off the field and in the meeting rooms and with the other players. Now, he's had to battle some injuries, but he's done it. That tells you a lot about the character of that guy. He made a nice catch (against Baltimore) and certainly going back to last week, I still go back to that third-down play where he willed himself to get the first down, and that says a lot about him. Brandon stepped up. "He's a competitor, so both of those guys have done a nice job."
--The Rams will be patient with WR Danario Alexander, who was waived in the cut to 53 players and added to the practice squad. Alexander has had four surgeries on his left knee, including one after the Senior Bowl, and wasn't cleared to practice until early July. He practices with a brace on his leg.
Said Spagnuolo, "The knee where he had the surgery, the thigh and everything there is still atrophied. It's not the muscle mass around (and) it is not ready and if you put somebody out there that is in that situation, you run the risk of another type of injury: a groin, a hamstring. I like the way he handles himself and the way he works. He's got a lot of good things about him, but just health-wise right now, he's got a long way to go."
--Does QB Sam Bradford have a strong arm? Just ask WR Danny Amendola. After the game against New England, Amendola had to have six stitches to repair a gash between his fingers that was the result of a Bradford pass. And Amendola was wearing gloves.
"(He) can wing it," Amendola said of Bradford. "I think it was the first (pass). I just looked down and my glove was all bloody. At the time I didn't feel it. At halftime I took my glove off and it was sliced pretty good, so I got some stitches."
Amendola showed the cut to Bradford after the game. Said Bradford, "It did look pretty nasty."
Said coach Steve Spagnuolo of Amendola, "You've got to kind of keep him from hurting himself. He just wants to go, go, go, which is a good problem to have. I love the way he plays and competes. ... I think it's great for our team, and the other guys see it, too. And I think they feed off of it."
--The thumb injury suffered by QB A.J. Feeley in the second preseason game not only made Sam Bradford the starter for the final two preseason games, but it also enabled Bradford to get all the reps with the first-team offense. Prior to that, he and Feeley had been splitting those snaps.
Said Bradford, "It's definitely helped being in there with those guys. Just being in the huddle with them more, being on the field, getting reps with the same guys at receiver, it just helps. I'm really kind of starting to jell with those guys out there a little bit. Any time I can get more reps, it just makes me feel more comfortable with those guys."
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