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News » St. Louis Rams Inside Slant 2008-09-12

St. Louis Rams Inside Slant 2008-09-12

St. Louis Rams Inside Slant 2008-09-12
Eddie Kennison didn't know what to think when the phone rang Monday afternoon and the area code on his caller ID was 314.

"I was in Kansas City doing some stuff for my businesses when the call came at about 3:30," Kennison said.

The caller was Rams executive vice president
Kennison worked out for the team Tuesday and it didn't take long to agree on a basic, one-year contract. He signed for the veteran's minimum of $830,000, prorated over the final 16 weeks of the season. If he is on the roster the entire season, he will be paid just over $781,000. Now, he has the arduous task of getting into football shape as quickly as he can after not doing anything football related in nine months. He had come to the realization that this day might not come again.

He said, "I always felt there would be an opportunity created and that something would happen. But I also realized it might not. I was fine either way. I had accepted that it might not happen. But I also believed that every morning when I worked out at 9 a.m. that I expected the phone to ring that day at any time.

"Now, I have the opportunity to go and play football at a high level again. I'm more mentally prepared than anything. The mind stays strong. But I know it's going to be tough to get in real shape. I'm in workout shape, but game shape is a whole different thing."

Kennison is now a mature 35-year-old man with several businesses in the Kansas City area and a family that includes wife Shimika and sons Karrington (9) and Jisiah (6). It's been a long road since his roller-coaster days as a younger player that led to rocky times in St. Louis, New Orleans, Chicago and Denver before settling down under the guidance of Dick Vermeil and Al Saunders in Kansas City. In the four-year stretch from 1998-2001, he played with a different team each season and was with the Broncos and Chiefs in 2001.

He came to the Rams as a first-round pick in 1996 when the team wasn't very good. Running back Lawrence Phillips also was selected in the first round that year, with quarterback Tony Banks chosen in the second round.

By the time the 1999 season rolled around, all were gone. Phillips was released in 1997, while Kennison and Banks were traded in the '99 offseason. Now, Kennison is back where he started.

With wide receiver Drew Bennett out for at least six weeks because of a broken bone in his foot, the Rams wanted a veteran's presence on the roster. How much Kennison can contribute quickly will be the question after an injury-filled season with the Chiefs in 2007.

He suffered a hamstring injury on the first play of the season against Houston. He was inactive for three games, played one where he could do little, and was inactive for another three. Kennison then played six games while still struggling with the injury before injuring his shoulder on Dec. 16 against Tennessee and missed the final two games of the season. He was then released by Kansas City on Feb. 27.

"It's come full circle," he said. "I'm pretty excited." He said he would let coaches know by Friday whether he was capable of playing 20-25 plays.

He also chuckled when the irony was mentioned of how he left St. Louis as a 26-year-old trying to find his way and now returns nine years later with the hope that he can possibly help in a leadership capacity.

Said Kennison, "That's just God's plan. This happening confirms to me his presence and how good he is. I hope I can help spark a flame in a team that didn't do very well Sunday and help get it going in the right direction. It doesn't feel awkward. I feel I will fit right into the locker room, get to know guys and do good things in the locker room thanks to my experience and knowledge of the game. God has truly blessed me with this opportunity."

When Kennison answered the phone Tuesday night, he sounded tired. Asked if he was busy studying, Kennison answered, "Heck, I probably know this offense better than anyone."

In his eight games last year, Kennison was a shell of himself, catching just 13 passes for 101 yards. The Rams hope he will be somewhere near the form he displayed while playing for Saunders in Kansas City from 2001-2005. In 67 games playing in Saunders' offense, Kennison caught 255 passes for 4,269 yards (16.7-yard average) and 25 touchdowns. Even in 2006, after Saunders left for the Redskins, Kennison had 53 receptions for 860 yards (16.2-yard average) and five touchdowns.

While Kennison becomes accustomed to his new teammates, it is expected that rookie Keenan Burton will start in Bennett's spot Sunday against the Giants. Dane Looker could also see time at "Z" receiver opposite Torry Holt.

Kennison's arrival highlights one irony. Isaac Bruce was a third-year player when Kennison was drafted. Bruce was released by the Rams in February one day after Kennison was cut by Kansas City because the Rams wanted to get younger. Bruce will be 36 in November. Kennison turned 35 in January.

SERIES HISTORY: 38th regular-season meeting. Rams lead, 25-12 and the teams have split two playoff games. The Giants have won the last three with the most recent in 2005 in New York. In St. Louis, the Rams have won three of the four games played.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 12, 2008

Eric Moore Name: Eric Moore
Position: DE
Age: 27
Experience: 4 years
College: Florida State
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