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Rams Sign Miller, Jackson

Posted Oct 10, 2011

Back when Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney were in Norman, Oklahoma to scout quarterback Sam Bradford, they sat down for lunch and were greeted by one of Bradford’s Sooners teammates, cornerback Brian Jackson.

It was a short hello that on Monday turned into something more substantial as the Rams signed Jackson to the active roster.

“I remember him vividly at the Oklahoma workout in Sam’s year,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s funny how this thing goes round and round.”

Jackson comes to the Rams from New York after he was most recently with the Giants. He replaces fellow corner Bradley Fletcher, who was placed on injured reserve to open space for Jackson.

The Rams also added receiver/returner Nick Miller to the active roster only about a week after he was released by Oakland. He replaces Danny Amendola, who was sent to injured reserve with a triceps injury.

In Jackson, Spagnuolo believes the Rams have added a player who fits the bill of what they look for in cornerbacks and a versatile player who can help in a few areas.

“He’s a big guy, long armed defensive back,” Spagnuolo said. “He was a play maker in college. I know he’s been a safety, corner, kind of like what Ron Bartell did early in his career. Kind of out of that mold. He’s got a long way to go certainly he’s got to learn our scheme and our system but we like some things he does.”

In Miller, the Rams are mainly looking for immediate help in the return game. Miller has been the Raiders’ primary punt returner in 2010 and has some experience handling kickoff returns as well.

“He’s been a productive returner and he ran around here pretty good today,” Spagnuolo said.

The Rams will work to get both up to speed quickly as help is needed in the return game and in the secondary on defense.

While he’s played some safety, Jackson is a better fit at corner and he’ll be asked to help out there right away.

With the injuries piling up at the position, the sooner the Rams can get Jackson on the field, the better.

“I have been pushing meetings,” Jackson said. “I got here yesterday morning and I went right to the meeting room with Coach (Clayton) Lopez so I guess they are trying to get me our there fast.”

An undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma, Jackson spent the 2010 preseason with the Jets before landing on the Giants active roster. He played 12 games for the Giants in 2010, posting nine tackles.

In St. Louis, he’ll be asked to play in a scheme similar to what he knows. The Rams would like him to use his 6 foot, 187 pound frame to play their usual press coverage as a cornerback.  

“I am a corner, naturally a corner but it’s a blessing to be able to play both,” Jackson said. “I played a preseason game with the Giants at safety and it wasn’t that bad so it comes down to what you are capable of doing and I just happen to be capable of doing both.”

For Rams fans, Miller will look awfully familiar. At 5’9, 180 pounds, he bears a striking resemblance in terms of size to Amendola and he played a similar role for Oakland on special teams.

Now, he’ll be asked to fill in for Amendola, at least in the interim.

“I have watched a little bit of film on him,” Miller said. “He’s a great player. I don’t think I’m here to replace him. He’s a great player and he has his spot. I am going to take over for the time being until he gets healthy and hopefully I can put a mark on this team.”

For the Raiders, Miller returned 37 punts for 276 yards in two seasons, an average of 7.5 yards per attempt. He also has returned six kicks for 98 yards and caught three passes for 40 yards.

For the Rams, he’ll be expected to chip in on the return game right away. Miller says his specialty, like most Raiders, is his speed.

“I was out in Oakland, everybody knows Oakland for speed,” Miller said. “So I am all about the speed. I feel like my return game is my strong point. I am excited to be here and excited to show what I’ve got.”

FLETCHER HEADED FOR SURGERY: Fletcher is scheduled to have surgery soon for the torn ACL he suffered in practice last week.

The Rams were not taken aback by the results of the MRI that landed him on injured reserve and if there’s a positive it’s that Fletcher’s injury isn’t as serious as the one he suffered two years ago.

“The good thing about Bradley’s injury, the silver lining is it’s only the ACL,” Spagnuolo said. “If you remember two years ago when he went through it, I believe he had two surgeries. Hopefully the rehab and him knowing how to go through it, hopefully he’ll get back.”

BEING BETTER: Spagnuolo acknowledged that he watched some football over the bye week but didn’t pay too much attention to what was going on elsewhere.

When asked Monday about NFC West competitors San Francisco and Seattle winning over the weekend, Spagnuolo said his focus and the team’s can’t be on anything but what’s going on here right now. 

“I’m not going there right now with the focus,” Spagnuolo said. “I think right now it’s about the Rams and us getting better. Simply put. I said that to the guys this morning; let’s just focus on ‘be better,’ each individual, coaches, players. Just be better. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

INJURY REPORT:  The Rams had three players who did not participate in Monday’s practice.

Guard Jacob Bell (hamstring), defensive tackle Darell Scott (wrist/hand) and tight end Mike Hoomanawanui did not participate.

Spagnuolo was unsure of Scott’s status for this week and said they’d have to see how it plays out the rest of the week in practice. He was more hopeful on Hoomanawanui and Bell.

Now more than a week removed from his concussion, Hoomanawanui is progressing well.

“Mike ran today and was fine,” Spagnuolo said. “I am hopeful we’ll get him back on Wednesday but I don’t know that.”

Bell is probably following a similar trajectory. 

“It’s a hamstring,” Spagnuolo said. “He felt pretty good. He stayed here for the rehab during the week. He just did rehab today. He didn’t do anything football wise. So he’s got to go through another day tomorrow and see where we are on Wednesday.”

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