Greco Happy to Help

Posted Sep 29, 2010

As the Rams offensive line repeatedly imposed its will on the Redskins in last week’s 30-16 victory, one player jumped out if for no other reason than the fact that to that point in the season, he hadn’t been out there.

With injuries already attacking the Rams early in the season, coach Steve Spagnuolo wanted to make it a point to get his depth guys opportunities to contribute and get repetitions.

Enter John Greco at right guard in a timeshare with starter Adam Goldberg.

“We know going forward here in this league you’re going to get hurt at certain positions, so I just think it’s always better to have guys ready to go,” Spagnuolo said.  “Adam can flip anywhere, tackle, guard, so he does that all the time.  It was good to get John in there.  He didn’t get a lot of work in training camp.”

Entering his third season in the NFL, Greco was well aware of the opportunity to make his presence felt on the Rams offensive line.

As training camp opened, Greco felt as good as ever about how he fit in with the line and his knowledge of the system.

“You get more and more comfortable with the system and everything,” Greco said. “Being in year 3, you are used to things. Nothing is really jumping out at you anymore and that’s what everyone else expects of a player. So I just have to remember that and keep rolling.”

That plan was derailed early in training camp when Greco suffered a pectoral injury that put him on the sidelines for almost all of the exhibition season.

What once appeared to be a chance to win a starting position was left aside by the need for Greco to re-prove himself to sew up a roster spot in the closing days of the preseason.

In the final exhibition game against Baltimore, Greco played and was a force for the Rams, particularly in the running game. He sewed up a spot and says he never thought about anything but simply doing his job.

“I wasn’t worried about that at all,” Greco said. “That’s not something you can worry about because it’s just going to bring you down a little bit. So you just have got to be focused and no matter how or when you play, you try to help the team any way you can.”

In some ways, Greco has followed a similar path to that of veteran leader Goldberg. Goldberg has been an extremely valuable player for the Rams for his versatility and durability, one trait in which Greco has been able to replicate.
Greco started his career at tackle but has shuttled back and forth between the outside and interior at guard. He even spent part of the spring and early parts of training camp working at center.

“I have been working hard trying to learn all the positions, even in the offseason trying to learn center as well because you never know,” Greco said. “Injuries happen, guys get banged up and you have just got to be ready for anything.”

As the Rams began preparation for Seattle this week, Spagnuolo has indicated that Greco will again factor into the rotation for the Rams along the offensive line, again at right guard.

Greco’s run blocking skills have been clearly evident but he’s still looking for polish in pass protection. As for finding the durability to complement the versatility, Greco says he tries not to think about the injuries that have put him on the sideline in recent seasons.

Greco had been limited to 20 games, in part because of injuries, in his first two seasons.

“It’s a little frustrating at first but they take good care of us,” Greco said. “We have to have our head in tunnel vision really and just try to help our team any way I can.”

JACKSON, ATOGWE SIT: As expected, the Rams’ two captains – running back Steven Jackson and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe – sat out Wednesday’s practice with a groin and thigh injury, respectively.

Spagnuolo said Monday that he didn’t want to rush either player back with the intent to try to get both of them to the game on Sunday, regardless of work they may or may not have been able to get done in practice this week.

Indications were that Jackson’s groin has been improving in the past couple of days but Spagnuolo says Jackson’s status will be related to how he feels.

“I trust Steven,” Spagnuolo said. “I have all along. It’s a lower extremity injury for a running back. We are not going to push it.”

The situation with Atogwe is similar.

“OJ, we just wanted him to stay off that thigh,” Spagnuolo said.

WASHINGTON STEPS IN: The Rams officially added running back Chauncey Washington on Tuesday afternoon and Washington was on the practice field Wednesday in his No. 33 jersey.

Washington came to the Rams from the Jets’ practice squad after becoming a bit of a television star for his turn on “Hard Knocks” as one of New York coach Rex Ryan’s favorite, hard nosed players.
“He’s a big back,” Spagnuolo said. When you watch tape of him, he’s kind of a power runner. He has some good qualities on special teams. We hope to get both of those (things) out of him.”

Washington will be asked to contribute on special teams right away against Seattle’s top-ranked return units. As for helping out offensively, it will depend on Jackson’s status and how quick he can get up to speed on the offense.

INJURY REPORT: Aside from Jackson and Atogwe, receiver Laurent Robinson (foot), safety Darian Stewart (hamstring) and defensive tackle Clifton Ryan (migraines) did not participate, either.

Ryan is still trying to find the origin of his condition and has not yet been cleared to return.

“When you are dealing with it…you never know when it’s going to pop up,” Spagnuolo said. “I think it’s sometimes hard to find the reasons but that’s what we are trying to do. You don’t want to make it any worse by practicing.”

TE Michael Hoomanawanui (ankle), TE Billy Bajema (knee), LB Chris Chamberlain (knee) and DT Darell Scott (ankle) are status quo and did not practice.

On the bright side, safety Craig Dahl met with an independent doctor and was cleared to return to practice with the condition that he couldn’t take part in contact drills. He is wearing a visor to help protect him from the brightness of the sun, something that can be bothersome to those recovering from concussions.

Running back Keith Toston (shoulder) also made it through practice OK.