St. Louis signs running back Williams

Thursday, August 3, 2006

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams signed Moe Williams to a one-year contract on Wednesday, addressing the need for a backup running back.

With Marshall Faulk out for the season because of a knee injury, the Rams have third-year back Steven Jackson in the starting role. Behind him is Tony Fisher, a fifth-year running back from Notre Dame who signed as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason from Green Bay.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Williams, 32, is in his 11th NFL season after spending the past nine years with the Minnesota Vikings. The Kentucky product has started 12 of 132 career games, rushing 435 times for 1,826 yards with 21 touchdowns.

Williams also has made 154 receptions for 1,511 yards with four touchdowns, adding 63 kickoff returns for a 22-yard average with one touchdown.

"He was one of my favorite players when I was in Minnesota," said Linehan, who was an offensive coordinator for the Vikings from 2002 to 2004. "He was the type of guy that could fit a lot of roles and help us out in our depth."

Now, Williams is added to the mix at running back.

Williams played in just six games last season. He underwent micro-fracture surgery on his right knee in November.

"He's been cleared," Linehan said. "We brought him in twice. The first physical was incomplete so we brought him in again. He cleared that physical. He feels good. He looks good. I think it'll be a great addition to our team."

The Rams were interested in trading for New Orleans' Michael Bennett. However, the Saints dealt Bennett to the Chiefs late Tuesday for an undisclosed draft choice. The Rams offered a fourth-round pick for the 27-year-old Bennett but it wasn't enough.

"We were certainly in the mix there," Linehan said about Bennett. "Things happen. Two parties have to agree to get it done. We certainly were a willing party but the other side wasn't."

Williams was originally a third-round draft choice (75th overall) by the Vikings in the 1996 NFL Draft. He has played nine of his 10 years with Minnesota, also playing for the Baltimore Ravens in 2001.

Willams and Fisher will compete for the No. 2 slot behind Jackson.

"Fisher has been doing a great job there," Linehan said. "What this will do is take a little pressure off Fisher. They're both real solid and you can win with them any day of the week.

"We're just strengthening our team. Moe is familiar with our system. He is a veteran who has played in a role as a backup and Moe was a real strong special teams player as well.

"Moe brings toughness. There's nothing flashy about him. He's a get it done type of guy. He's an old-school guy you like to have on your team."

Williams was part of the Minnesota Vikings' boat party scandal last year on Lake Minnetonka. About 30 members of the team were identified as being among 90 people on two boats that cruised the lake west of Minneapolis during the Vikings' bye week.

In Williams' trial, the prosecution described the Oct. 6, 2005 cruise as a raunchy party in which women on the boat changed into thong underwear and bras, gave players lap dances and, in some cases, stripped naked.

For his role in the incident, Williams was convicted of disorderly conduct. He was fined $300 and ordered to complete 30 hours of community service.


* Linehan said running back Marshall Faulk, who was placed on the reserve/physically unable to play list Monday, needs reconstructive surgery on his right knee if he hopes to ever play again.

* Defensive end Leonard Little missed practice for the second day. He has a stomach virus, Linehan said. Little took in three IVs Tuesday night.

* Tony Softli, with the Carolina Panthers since 1995, joined the Rams on Monday as vice president of player personnel.

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