Rams rookie safety enjoys learning at professional level

Thursday, August 11, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- After being named the starter at strong safety by coach Mike Martz before training camp began, St. Louis Rams rookie Jerome Carter chose to work like he needed to earn a roster spot.

"I came into this situation with my eyes open and ears open," Carter said. "I didn't know what to expect, just that I expected to work hard.

"It was a good feeling being named the starter but make no mistake, I've got to continue to work hard and get better. I'm the kind of person who demands a lot out of myself."

Anxious to begin, Carter became the first rookie to sign his contract shortly after the draft on April 28.

"I was elated to be playing in the NFL," Carter said.

For Martz, the rookie got off to a good start in camp, but has leveled out.

"When things start going real fast now, he's made some mistakes in coverage," Martz said. "He needs to get that cleaned up."

Carter earned a reputation as a hard hitter at Florida State, a strong defender of the run who needs work in pass coverage.

"I know I've got a few things to clean up," Carter said. "I know I've got a long ways to go and a lot to learn."

Martz is confident Carter can work out his problems and contribute. His training will continue when the Rams open preseason play Friday night at home against the Chicago Bears.

"He's got four games in the preseason to get it right," Martz said. "We need to hang in there with him because he's a real fine player."

Carter has caught the eye of veteran wide receiver Isaac Bruce.

"I don't really like mentioning rookies, but No. 42, I think he's a really good player," Bruce said. "He's coming up. He's fitting up with guys. He knows his assignment, which is strange for a rookie this early in camp."

Among those pushing Carter for the starting job are six-year veteran Michael Hawthorne, five-year veteran Michael Stone, former receiver turned safety Mike Furrey and rookie Oshiomogho Atogwe.

Carter knows it's his position to lose.

"I never take anything for granted," Carter said, "not since I was in middle school. I've been through a lot of stuff in my life that taught me to never take anything for granted."

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