NFL Nation: Mike Hoomanwanui

St. Louis Rams cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
Surprise move: The situation at wide receiver carried the most intrigue through training camp and the exhibition season. Mardy Gilyard, Donnie Avery and Danario Alexander seemed to have the most to gain, with Mark Clayton's recent signing adding another dynamic. Alexander made it. So did Dominique Curry, a dominant special-teams player last summer until he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Gilyard and Avery missed the cut. That surprised me a great deal given Alexander's injury history, Avery's recent surge and Gilyard's value on special teams. Clayton went onto the reserve/physically unable to perform list, meaning he'll miss the first six games.

Curry is a special-teams player and a receiver in name only. He made the team despite a broken hand. That's a victory for special-teams coach Tom McMahon.

Veteran defensive lineman Dan Muir, signed in free agency, was also among the cuts. Gilyard, a fourth-round pick in 2010, missed the cut. The team has drafted 16 players in the first four rounds since Steve Spagnuolo became head coach. Gilyard is the only one no longer with the team. He has no eligibility for the practice squad after appearing on the game-day roster more than eight times last season (11).

Unknown rookie Ben Guidugli was one of four tight ends to stick on the initial 53-man roster, beating out Fendi Onobun. Guidugli could be providing depth while the team waits to see whether Michael Hoomanawanui is available for Week 1.

No-brainers: The Rams weren't going to cut rookie receivers Greg Salas or Austin Pettis even though neither rookie lit up the preseason. They took precedence over Gilyard, who was selected when the Rams had a different offensive coordinator. Free-agent linebacker Zac Diles became expendable once the Rams added other veterans at the position.

What's next: Depth at cornerback was and is a potential concern. The Rams kept only eight offensive linemen, including veteran backup Adam Goldberg. They could be in the market for an interior offensive lineman with good size and strength. With seven wide receivers on the roster for now, the team has only four running backs. This is the initial 53-man roster, not the final one, however. There will be changes before Week 1, most likely.

Karney active for first time since Week 11

December, 26, 2010
ST. LOUIS -- Veteran fullback Mike Karney should be fresh for the St. Louis Rams against the San Francisco 49ers.

Karney, the starter at his position coming into the season, has not played since Week 11. The Rams had phased him out of the offense in part because Karney did not factor on special teams and it was tough to justify setting aside one of 45 game-day roster spots for a part-time blocker.

Karney is active again for two reasons:
  • Karney's replacement, Brit Miller, landed on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury against Kansas City in Week 15.
  • Rookie tight end Mike Hoomanawanui is unavailable while recovering from an ankle injury. Hoomanawanui had been lining up at fullback in addition to tight end, providing a measure of flexibility that Karney could not offer.

Rams running back Steven Jackson has expressed support for Karney over the years. He likes running behind Karney in the team's base personnel package featuring two backs and one tight end.

Wow factor: Bradford's three TDs to TEs

November, 28, 2010

The St. Louis Rams have maintained for some time that Billy Bajema can be more than simply a blocking tight end.

Bajema has occasionally proved it, but he's never enjoyed the sort of game he's putting together in Denver. Bajema has caught his second touchdown pass of the game -- and the second of his career -- to give the Rams a 20-13 lead. Fellow tight end Mike Hoomanwanui also has a scoring grab, his second in as many weeks.

The Rams have made too much progress this season to go winless on the road, in my view. But they still have to prove they can close out an opponent away from the Edward Jones Dome. They've been close before -- at Oakland (16-14), at Tampa Bay (18-7), at San Francisco (23-20 in overtime). Is this the week?

Who needs wide receivers? Not the Rams

November, 28, 2010
Mike Hoomanawanui and now Billy Bajema have caught touchdown passes from Sam Bradford, giving the St. Louis Rams a 14-13 lead at Denver in Week 12.

Injuries at wide receiver have left Bradford with fewer attractive options in the passing game. Tight ends are emerging as a result.

Hoomanwanui, a rookie, has touchdown grabs in consecutive games. Bajema caught his first career scoring pass Sunday.

Good quarterbacks make the most of what they have. Bradford appears to be doing a good job along those lines.