Battered Rams enroll McCleon for safety duty

Friday, November 30, 2001

ST. LOUIS -- It's 911 time in the St. Louis Rams' secondary.

Both safeties could be out for Sunday's game at Atlanta, making necessary an emergency position switch for cornerback Dexter McCleon. He's the free safety in practice this week while Kim Herring recuperates from a hip pointer, and he seems to enjoy the variety.

"I love it," McCleon said. "Anything to help the team, I'm willing to do. I'm anxious to get out there and see what I can add to the club."

McCleon, tied for the team lead with three interceptions, isn't being caught totally off-guard. He was designated the emergency safety in training camp, and McCleon spent time at the position when Herring was out with a hamstring injury.

McCleon, a former second-round draft pick in 1997, also played a bit of safety last season due to injuries and has some college experience at the position.

"He's been working with this all year," defensive backs coach Ron Meeks said. "You can only have so many guys up for the game, and one of those corners has to be the emergency safety."

If McCleon has to move, nickel back Dre' Bly would move to one of the corners opposite Aeneas Williams. Rich Coady, who started at strong safety last week with Adam Archuleta sidelined with a severely sprained right ankle, will start again this week.

Coach Mike Martz has his fingers crossed that nobody else goes down.

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