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Thursday, April 29, 2010
Payne eager to contribute with Rams

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Newly acquired Rams safety Kevin Payne has been in the NFL only since 2007. He's already received quite the professional education.

Payne

Payne

The Bears drafted him in 2007, then traded his former college teammate and fellow safety, Chris Harris, to the Panthers. The Bears drafted another safety, Major Wright, and re-acquired Harris within the last week, precipitating Payne's departure to the Rams via trade.

"It's crazy," Payne said during a conference call Thursday. "You could write a book on it."

The book on Payne is that he was more comfortable at strong safety than free safety because hitting, not coverage, is his strength. Payne said he does love to hit -- it's one of the reasons he prefers safety to running back, the position he played early in college -- but he also stood up for his coverage skills.

"I am a very physical safety," Payne said. "I feel I can play any position, strong or free. I have the speed to play free and can (hit)."

The Rams need safety depth anyway and especially with starter Oshiomogho Atogwe unsigned. The team must upgrade its offer to Atogwe from $1.226 million to nearly $7 million by June to keep his rights. Atogwe plays free safety and has been a ball hawk in past seasons, although not so much in 2009.

The Rams' moves to draft cornerback Jerome Murphy in the third round and add Payne via trade suggest the team would like to get more physical in the secondary.