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News » St. Louis Rams Inside Slant 2009-05-15

St. Louis Rams Inside Slant 2009-05-15

St. Louis Rams Inside Slant 2009-05-15
The handwriting was on the wall for linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa after the Rams selected James Laurinaitis in the second round of last month's draft.

Earlier in the offseason, new coach Steve Spagnuolo and defensive coordinator Ken Flajole made the decision to move middle linebacker Will Witherspoon to the weak side. That had been Tinoisamoa's position.

Chris Draft was placed in the middle, but there was no real strong-side linebacker. When Spagnuolo was asked in March whether it was possible for Witherspoon to be on one side and Tinoisamoa on the other, he responded, "You probably could. You could go left and right. In some of the things we're doing as we install it, we're going right and left, just so they learn both. But that's just a teaching tool."

So it was. Even though Laurinaitis lined up with the third string in the team's minicamp one week after the draft, it was evident he is expected to start. That plan made it possible to shift Draft to the strong side, and made Tinoisamoa expendable.

He was simply too expensive ($3.25 million salary and $4.25 million cap charge) to keep around as a backup. His departure saves the Rams $2.25 million against the cap.

"They thought I was too good to be a backup," Tinoisamoa said after being released May 8. "I'm getting paid too much to be a backup. They had brought that up earlier in the week, so (this) wasn't a total surprise."

Still, the undersized Tinoisamoa believed he was making the transition to the strong side.

"I thought I did decent," he said. "It was a new position, but I didn't think it was anything that was going to be unrealistic or unattainable. But when you see a rotation, you know there was something that just wasn't solidified yet, and that made me uneasy. I thought that I had a good chance of making this team, so the timing kind of hit me out of the blue."

Draft could compete with Quinton Culberson, who opened the 2008 season as the strong-side starter, only to be replaced by Draft in Week 4. Draft started five games there, but suffered a foot injury against Arizona Nov. 2. Culberson started for the rest of the season, except for one game. When Draft got healthy, he started in the middle with Witherspoon being a part-time player because of a shoulder injury.

The only other depth at linebacker is second-year players Chris Chamberlain, David Vobora and Larry Grant. Chamberlain and Vobora were seventh-round picks by the Rams last year, while Grant was a San Francisco seventh-round pick, and was signed by the Rams off the 49ers' practice squad on Nov. 26.

Tinoisamoa was hoping to be part of the new regime, but it wasn't to be.

"I really like the direction they're going," he said. "Because the team wasn't winning, you knew this year was going to be different, and a lot of faces would be different. I didn't really honestly think it would involve me. But the change is here, it's come, and I think it's a good change. If something isn't working, you've got to figure things out."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 15, 2009

Justin Medlock Name: Justin Medlock
Position: PK
Age: 24
Experience: 1 years
College: UCLA
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