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TE Randy McMichael hits the ground running

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TE Randy McMichael hits the ground running

Postby SCS » Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:18 pm

Written by:
Bill Coats
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The degree to which Randy McMichael's life was about to change was illustrated in early March, when he flew from Miami to St. Louis to join his new team.

"It was 87 when we left, and I get here and it's snowing," McMichael said. "It's an adjustment, but it's not a big deal."

No, the big deal was when the Dolphins released the 6-foot-3, 255-pound McMichael, the most productive tight end in franchise history. Instead of paying him a $3 million roster bonus, Miami let him walk.

"It was a real shock to me and my family," said McMichael, 27. "But it's the NFL; you've just got to always prepare yourself for it. I'm not upset about it."

The Rams spent two of their first five draft picks in 2006 on tight ends: second-rounder Joe Klopfenstein and third-rounder Dominique Byrd. The next day, they traded three-year starter Brandon Manumaleuna to San Diego.

Klopfenstein won the starting job and wound up with 20 receptions for 226 yards. Byrd played in just five games, catching two passes for 39 yards. Veteran Aaron Walker was used mostly as a blocker but contributed five catches for 68 yards.

Adding McMichael means that one of those three probably won't make the team. Klopfenstein appears to be secure, so Byrd and Walker figure to go head-to-head for the final spot.

Given the uncertainly at the position, Rams coach Scott Linehan was quick to pounce when McMichael became available. Three days after his release, McMichael agreed to terms on a three-year deal that will pay him close to $4 million annually.

Polished blocker

McMichael's per-season average in five years with the Dolphins was 56 catches. His production surged over the past three seasons, when he averaged 65 receptions, 671 yards and four touchdowns.

"The thing he really doesn't get credit for is, he's a very, very good blocker in the run game and in the pass game," said Linehan, who was Miami's offensive coordinator in 2005.

With a laugh, McMichael said, "Being a tight end, you don't want to be known as a great pass-blocker. ... You want get out and run routes."

Still, he said had labored to polish his blocking skills. "Especially that year Scott was there, I really concentrated more on the blocking aspect of my game," McMichael said. "I think one thing that I can bring to the table is that I can pass-block one-on-one with defensive ends and I can run-block one-on-one with defensive ends. So the offensive linemen can stay inside and worry about the inside guys."

Because of his season under Linehan, McMichael was familiar with the offensive system here and adapted quickly during organized team activities at Rams Park.

"Randy kind of came in and hit the ground running," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "He's been real good out there."

The Rams' corps of receivers remains anchored by veterans Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. But the addition of McMichael, plus wideout pickups Drew Bennett and Dante Hall, gives quarterback Marc Bulger several targets from which to choose.

"I'd rather have that problem than trying to find one guy; I'll make them happy," Bulger assured. "We'll definitely have the most talent on our side of the ball since I've been starting."

A fresh start

McMichael confronted several hurdles along the route to St. Louis. His mother, just 17 when he was born, gave up a college basketball scholarship to raise him. Randy has had only occasional contact with his father.

Angel McMichael joined the Army, took her young son to Germany with her for three years during her deployment, and made sure he had his priorities in order. "When I'd get in trouble, she'd put that military discipline on me," he told the Miami Herald.

Angel and Randy ultimately settled in Fort Valley, Ga., a town of 8,300 about 90 miles south of Atlanta. Randy, a three-sport star at Peach County High, went on to the University of Georgia, where he caught 90 passes for 1,113 yards and earned All-Southeastern Conference honors his final year.

McMichael left after his junior season and expected to be a first-day draft pick in 2002. But he had to wait until the fourth round, when the Dolphins took him with the 114th overall selection.

He surprised by earning a first-team job at his first training camp and wound up starting 80 games in Miami. His best season was in 2004, when he piled up 73 catches and 791 yards.

There were problems off the field, though. McMichael was arrested twice for domestic incidents. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass stemming from an argument with his wife at a restaurant parking lot.

McMichael said he realized some stigma remains as a result of missteps.

"People are going to have their preconceived notions about you, and you can't really do anything about that," he said. "You just have to move on and show the people around you what you're really all about."

In that vein, McMichael said he welcomes a fresh start in a new place.

"When I had an opportunity to come here, I jumped on it. I think it's a great system with a lot of playmakers that's going to elevate my game to another level," he said. "I'm excited to be a St. Louis Ram, and I'm just trying to start off on the right foot, get to know the guys and just find out where I fit in."


McMichael will be THE top target between the 20 and the end zone for the Rams. Look for McMichael to get at least 8 TDs in 2007...he brings a dimention to the Rams they have NEVER had...even with Warner and the gang there!
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Re: TE Randy McMichael hits the ground running

Postby STLCards16 » Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:24 am

I really like the addition of McMichael to the Rams. Along with Drew Bennett and Steven Jackson, the Rams red-zone offense should do great. Bulger will have 2 big targets to throw to, along with Holt and Bruce, and a great RB to hand off to B-)
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Re: TE Randy McMichael hits the ground running

Postby SCS » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:50 am

STLCards16 wrote:I really like the addition of McMichael to the Rams. Along with Drew Bennett and Steven Jackson, the Rams red-zone offense should do great. Bulger will have 2 big targets to throw to, along with Holt and Bruce, and a great RB to hand off to B-)


I agree. McMichael is going to be a great addition for STL, but as far as fantasy goes, he may get lost in the shuffle with Bennett, Jackson, Bruce, Holt and others...heck, even Brian Leonard will get his touchdowns, too!

Still, a great addition for any Rams fan... ;)
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Re: TE Randy McMichael hits the ground running

Postby sportsaddict » Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:24 pm

Nice TE, lets just hope he stays away from his wife :-°
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