Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bears' Salaam Admits a Rookie Mistake: Last Year's Holdout Hurt

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bears' Salaam Admits a Rookie Mistake: Last Year's Holdout Hurt

Article excerpt

Rashaan Salaam can relate to Lawrence Phillips' holdout because he's been there. Last year, Salaam was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears after winning the Heisman Trophy at the University of Colorado.

He missed more than two weeks of training camp while hashing out a contract and paid a price.

"It did set me back," Salaam said. "Even though I ran for a thousand (yards), I would have had a stronger season if I came back into camp a little bit earlier.

"I know it's a business and (Phillips) has to do what he has to do. But missing camp is really going to set him back, because he's missing out on the extra contact. He's missing out on the extra coaching and it's going to really hurt him."

As of Sunday, it will be exactly two weeks missed - and 21 practice sessions - by Phillips, the Rams' first-round choice from the University of Nebraska. When Phillips does show up, it is hoped he'll have a better first day of camp than his fellow running back.

"My first day of camp I cramped up," Salaam said. "I had to go to the hospital. So missing camp ain't too cool. Even though I worked out every day, you don't get in that football shape."

Salaam finished with 1,074 yards rushing. But he didn't break into the starting lineup until Game 4 against the Rams. And he fumbled nine times. Among NFL running backs, only Arizona's Garrison Hearst (12) fumbled more often last season.

Salaam said his late start contributed to his fumble-itis.

"My body really wasn't adjusted to the team speed, and the tackling of the pros by missing those two weeks," he said.

So if he could do it over, would he hold out?

"That's a hard question, because I'm not really a money guy," Salaam said. "But it's a business. What's fair is fair. We've got to get our mone y first before we do anything."

What About Rypien? Agent Ken Staninger got a late-night phone call last week from one of his clients, quarterback Mark Rypien. Rypien was excited. Had he changed his mind and decided to accept the Rams' latest contract offer?

Not quite. Rypien shot a hole in one - the first of his life - playing in a tournament in Spokane, Wash. He used a 6-iron, from 176 yards. As for his future in the National Football League. . . .

"I don't think he's ruled out playing," Brooks said. "But at this point, I don't think anything's going to happen in the real near future."

At the moment, the Rams seem happy to go with just three quarterbacks in training camp.

"You could always use an arm out there to do some things," Brooks said. "We had Cree Morris in camp a year ago - all he did was hand off and take the pressure off the other quarterbacks in throwing drills. I think he got in one snap in a preseason game."

A fourth quarterback would help some, Brooks said, "but it also would hinder by taking snaps away from Tony Banks or Jamie Martin - and Steve Walsh, who is new to our system. …

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