In the months leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft, the Rams, armed with the No. 2 pick, began narrowing down the potential selections.
When it came down to it, end
It’s a time that Gholston recalls fondly.
“It’s still one of the best moments of my life, getting drafted,” Gholston said. “It’s funny when you come back and see all those things (from before) but for me it was just fun times, going through it with my family, my mom being there. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Fast forward to Thursday and Gholston returned to the ContinuityX Training Center, a place that has undergone two name changes since he last visited and became teammates with Long for the first time.
The Rams signed Gholston to a one-year contract on Wednesday evening, a far cry from the high that came with being drafted sixth overall by the New York Jets in that very same draft.
It’s been a long road for Gholston since that day. He played three seasons in New York but never successfully transitioned to the Jets’ 3-4 defensive scheme as an outside linebacker.
In those three years, Gholston started just five games with 42 tackles and no sacks. The Jets released him on March 2 of last year. The Bears signed Gholston, hoping that moving him to his more natural end spot in a 4-3 defense would help him reach his vast potential.
That move didn’t work, either, as Gholston spent a month of the preseason with the Bears before being released.
“I knew I wanted to still play football, that wasn’t a question,” Gholston said. “For me, it was about getting in shape and I felt like when I went to Chicago, I wasn’t in the shape I needed to be with the whole lockout thing and that was on me. For now, it was about getting back in the shape I wanted to be in and getting a chance to join a team again.”
Still, Gholston’s phone didn’t exactly ring off the hook since the Bears let him go in August of last year. Instead, Gholston split his time between New Jersey and his hometown of Detroit, working out and doing whatever possible to stay in shape.
Gholston wondered if the phone would ring but never let the silence get to him.
“It puts you in a humbling place,” Gholston said. “In anything that you step away from and look at it, it lets you know where you really want to be. Playing football is what I have been doing since I was a kid and it’s what I like to do and what I continue to do.”
With that in mind, Gholston continued to work, biding his time and hoping for an invite. The spring went by without an opportunity and when camps opened in July, he still waited for a chance.
Finally, with injuries starting to hit teams, Gholston began to draw some interest.
“You never know with teams,” Gholston said. “They have their game plan, their thoughts. For me, it’s about being in good shape. I know if I’m in good shape, ready to play, you know, the opportunity will be there.”
The opportunity finally came Wednesday when the Rams brought Gholston to St. Louis for a workout and opted to sign him before the day was out. With ends
Whether or not Gholston eventually makes the roster will depend on how fast Sims gets healthy and how fast Gholston can acclimate to his new surroundings.
“We need the legs because we’re light,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “So we did our research and found out that he was in shape and obviously was a high pick so it’s an opportunity to take a look at him. So we’ll just see how he does.”
Fisher isn’t heaping the expectations on Gholston that he undoubtedly faced in New York. He made it clear that Gholston’s main skill is pass rushing and the Rams will afford him the opportunity to do that in the final two preseason contests.
In his first practice as a Ram on Thursday, Gholston said it was a bit of a rude awakening because being in shape and being in football shape are two different things.
“After a year of being out of the game, I don’t care what you really do you can’t be in football shape unless you are out there running around with the team and that’s what today was about,” Gholston said.
As for his chances to make the roster, Gholston isn’t viewing himself as just another camp body brought in to fill in for Sims. Whether or not that turns out to be the case remains to be seen but if nothing else, Gholston at least has the chance to change some minds.
“I don’t think they would have brought me in if that was the case, especially this late,” Gholston said. “Either way. For me, it’s about being here. I’m with the Rams, I’m happy to be here and I want to be here but if not there are 31 other teams looking at me.
“I never get into anybody else’s expectations. Mine are always high. I still have them high. The thing is getting a good opportunity and capitalizing on that.”
SORTING THROUGH RECEIVERS: The Rams continue to mix and match wideouts in search of the best combination for the starting unit.
Of that group, only Amendola and Smith have consistently gotten work with quarterback
As the preseason wears on, Fisher has said he’d like to continue working youngsters Quick and Givens in with the first group and that could start this weekend against Dallas.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said now is still the time for evaluation and nothing will be set in stone until later.
“Well I think there’s still some tough calls,” Schottenheimer said. “I think we know we got a good core group of guys. Again, we’re still waiting for some guys to separate themselves. Again, then you start playing the numbers game. But we’re very pleased with what those guys have done. In these next couple of games we expect to have a couple guys step up.”
Amendola’s spot would seem to be the only one that’s locked up right now but the questions still remains who will flank him on the outside.
THE RIGHT TRACK: Although all signs point to veteran
Richardson has been taking pretty much all of the reps with the first team offense the past two weeks and seems poised to take hold of the job once and for all.
But, like the receiver situation, Schottenheimer would like to continue to take a wait-and-see approach.
“It’s back and forth,” Schottenheimer said. “It’s a competition. It’s been a fun competition to watch. Barry’s running with the ones right now. Jason had most of the reps all spring with the 1s. It’s one of those competitions that will be fun to watch coming down to the wire.”
YOUTH MOVEMENT: As currently constructed, the Rams have the youngest team in the NFL. And, barring some sort of last minute roster shakeup, they will go into the season with the youngest 53-man roster in the NFL.
Despite his team’s youth, Fisher isn’t remotely fazed by the prospect of putting so many inexperienced players on the field for long stretches.
“Somebody told me that it might be the youngest in the history of the NFL,” Fisher said. “Then, that would mean it would be my youngest too. But that’s OK. These guys like to play and they played hard and I’m not really concerned about our age. We’ve got some speed and we’ve got some talented athletes. The other side of that is, if it is young then it’s only going to get better. And that’s the approach we’re taking.”