Thoughts on the Rams' new tight end

February, 18, 2010
2/18/10
11:30
AM ET
The Cardinals' signing of veteran center Melvin Fowler last offseason seemed to upgrade their depth on the line.

Fowler didn't last. The Cardinals cut him. Detroit signed him. Fowler still hasn't played in an NFL game since 2008.

Fine
The lesson: There's usually a reason teams release players.

That context should help Rams fans from getting too excited about the team's addition of former Bills tight end Derek Fine, recently claimed off waivers. Fine's addition is still a move worth monitoring, based on the potential he has shown when healthy. Unlike Fowler, an older player with 60 regular-season starts, Fine has played in only 18 games over two NFL seasons.

Before a knee injury ended Fine's 2009 season, Allen Wilson of the Buffalo News had this to say about him:
"Fine gives the Bills a bigger and more physical body at tight end than (Derek) Schouman or (Shawn) Nelson offers. A 6-foot-3, 250-pounder, Fine should be an asset in the running game because he is a tenacious run blocker who plays with good strength, leverage and technique at the point of attack. He's also an underrated receiver. He doesn't have the same burst to separate from defenders like Schouman or the speed and raw athleticism that Nelson possesses. But Fine has very reliable hands, runs good routes and has shown the ability to make himself an available target by finding soft spots in coverage."

The Rams were happy with backup tight end Billy Bajema, late of the 49ers, last season. They probably need to replace Randy McMichael, who is scheduled to become a free agent. Fine, a fourth-round pick in 2008, helps their numbers at the position while giving them another prospect to develop.

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