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Rams notes: Hooey put time on practice squad to good use/PD

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    Rams notes: Hooey put time on practice squad to good use
    • By Joe Lyons

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/foot...cle_a39ecce3-b65e-5099-80c2-d37d96727318.html

    Sean Hooey’s first season in professional football was over almost as soon as it started.

    An undrafted rookie free agent tackle from the University of Cincinnati, Hooey competed in just 27 plays of the Rams’ 27-19 preseason loss to the Browns in Cleveland last year before being injured.

    The foot injury forced Hooey to sit out the rest of training camp and the final three preseason contests.

    He was waived when the team cut its roster to 53.

    “I got some good feedback from the coaches and my agent was told that they liked me and wanted to bring me back for the practice squad,’’ the 24-year-old said following practice at Rams Park early this week. “But I was pretty nervous, not knowing what was going to happen. This is a business and I was cut and put on waivers, just like everybody else.

    “Having my agent say they would call me back and actually getting the call were two extremely different things.’’

    But Hooey got the call and ended up spending the 2013 campaign on the practice squad. Since then, he has been making steady progress.

    “My ascent as a football player, it began last fall on the practice squad and working in the weight room with Rock,’’ Hooey said, referring to Rams strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson. “I came in here at 305 pounds and now I’m at 318. I’m stronger and in better shape, and my technique has improved. I’m playing the best football I’ve played in my life.

    “Getting a chance on the practice squad was a motivator for me, an opportunity to work my way up. If anything, when I came back, I was determined to work even harder. I just followed coach Rock’s plan. I changed my diet and just put everything I had into it. This is my job, my livelihood.’’

    Early on, Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau saw potential in Hooey. He also saw something that cannot be taught: Hooey stands 6 feet, 9 inches tall.

    In a little over a year, Hooey has transformed his body in the weight room and sharpened his technique on the practice field.

    “Going up against Chris Long and Rob Quinn every day does nothing but make you better,’’ he said.

    Hooey was among the busiest players in last weekend’s 26-24 loss to the visiting New Orleans Saints to open the preseason, taking part in 56 offensive snaps and two more on special teams.

    “For my first full game in a while, I felt I played pretty well,’’ he said. “I’m pretty hard on myself, never wanting to be completely satisfied because there’s always something you can improve on. There are definitely one or two plays in my mind that stick out, so I’m going into this week trying to improve on those areas.’’

    Hooey, who said he’s comfortable at either tackle spot, was among a handful of players invited to join the rookies a few days before the start of training camp. During those workouts, Boudreau used Hooey to demonstrate during drills.

    “At first, I was a little disappointed to have my vacation cut short,’’ he said. “But later I realized how awesome it was because it gave me three more days, so when the vets showed up, I was already a little ahead of the game.’’

    When healthy, the Rams’ offensive line is talented and deep. Competition for roster spots is fierce.

    “Honestly, I can’t think about it because at the end of the day, it’s not my decision,’’ Hooey said. “I’m just trying to make sure I’m working hard every day and playing the most consistent football possible.’’

    Through much of his first season with the Rams, Hooey sported long hair. But all that changed just before Christmas.

    “It was just something I did along with a couple of buddies back in Cincinnati,’’ he said. “I didn’t want to grow it out for nothing, so I went and donated it to Locks of Love.’’

    That’s a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged youngsters in the United States and Canada suffering form long-term medical hair loss.

    ANOTHER GOOD CAUSE

    Shortly after Wednesday’s special-teams practice, Rams coach Jeff Fisher dumped an ice cooler on himself as part of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

    The Challenge is sweeping the NFL to help raise awareness and funds to fight ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

    On Tuesday, after getting dumped on by quarterback Russell Wilson and tight end Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll challenged Fisher as well as Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers and Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals.

    Fisher challenged Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and the country band Rascal Flatts. If the task isn’t completed in 24 hours, those challenged are asked to donate to ALS research.

    RAM-BLINGS

    • The Rams focused on special teams Wednesday, working in pads for the first half of the workout.

    On the side, defensive tackle Michael Brockers (ankle) did some running and appeared to be moving pretty well.

    • The Rams, who will host the Green Bay Packers at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome, will practice today from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Rams Park. The workout is free and open to the public.

    • Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams spoke to the Rams before Wednesday’s workout.

    • Former University of Illinois tight end Evan Wilson has signed with the Miami Dolphins. An undrafted free agent, he was signed and waived earlier in training camp by the Dallas Cowboys.

    Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
     
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