The St. Louis Rams released one offensive lineman and acquired another on Sunday.
"We brought in MILFORD BROWN, who was a free agent," Rams coach SCOTT LINEHAN announced following Sunday morning's session. "He's a right guard who's got five years in the NFL and (last) played at Arizona -- actually played against us last year.
"He'll be in competition there for one of the guard spots on our team. We released (rookie tackle) CHRIS MESSNER to open up a spot." Messner was a free agent acquisition earlier this year out of Oklahoma.
Linehan noted the Rams had evaluated Brown and had given him a good grade. "And you know he's played in the league and played as recently as last year against you, so you have an evaluation as to how he's doing against players that you're pretty familiar with.
"We thought he played pretty well. He's very physical. Kinda got a little mean streak in him, too, and with that size (6 feet 5, 330 pounds) that's a good combination. His offensive line coach last year (Steve Loney, now interim head coach at Drake University) is a good friend of mine. He and I visited for quite a while, and he was really high on him."
Brown, who was released by the Cardinals in June after refusing to take a pay cut, said he was working out in Arizona yesterday when he got the call from St. Louis.
"I didn't know what I was going to do at first," said Brown, who's 26 and started 12 games for Arizona last fall. "I just had to pray about it, man. I figured it would be a good situation for me."
And better than anything he had heard until then.
"A couple teams called, just saying they were interested, but nobody was like, 'OK, we want you right now,'" Brown said. "So I'm very happy about St. Louis calling me. I hope I can get in, get a chance to play a little bit, and help everybody out. I'm just trying to fit in.
"When I got the phone call, I looked at the whole roster; I thought about how we played 'em last year and everything. Basically, I just want to win. So looking at what they did this past offseason, they've really tried to win in a hurry. And that's what I want to do."
Any specific memories of playing against the Rams last year?
"We had some good battles," Brown said with a chuckle. "(Defensive tackle CLAUDE) WROTEN was talking to me today as soon as I walked in. He started talking trash to me like, 'I owe you; I'm gonna get you for one play in particular. We started laughing about it.
"I think he was already falling down and I kind of jumped on his back or something."
JAMES HALL IMPRESSES: Eighth-year defensive end JAMES HALL, brought here in a trade with Detroit to make an impact on the defensive line's performance, has not disappointed Linehan so far.
The coach said his early impression of Hall is "That he's a legit guy on the other side of our other legit guy (defensive end LEONARD LITTLE). I don't know what else to say right now; it's early in camp, and I'm excited as anybody to have James Hall on our football team."
BENNETT, TOO: Linehan says seventh-year, 6-5 wide receiver DREW BENNETT, signed as an unrestricted free agent (last with Tennessee), "adds that much because he's that good a player, but he adds a little different dimension that we didn't have.
"That's not taking anything away from the players we have or had, at all. It's just that Drew's got great size. You want to bring something special to the table with your game, and he brings that, plus he's a very unselfish individual.
"He understands his role and he wants to do his role well so his role will increase -- but he wants to win above everything else."
IINTERESTING ASSIGNMENT: How has it been for third-round draft pick DARIUS WADE, a cornerback, trying to cover the likes of star receivers TORRY HOLT and ISAAC BRUCE as a rookie?
"Very entertaining," said Wade. "They mess with me a lot, but I know it's all right 'cause they want me to get better so I can help this team out. Just little rookie stuff all the time. They keep me on my toes a lot; just stuff to keep me going."
DRAFT BACK: Veteran linebacker CHRIS DRAFT, hospitalized the last two nights for throat swelling apparently related to his chronic asthma condition, returned to camp on Sunday to attend meetings. Linehan said Draft was "day-to-day" regarding when he might return to practice sessions.
END QUOTE: Linehan, about the solid early camp performance of first-round draft pick ADAM CARRIKER, a defensive lineman: "I knew he wasn't going to disappoint. He looked that way on film when he played in college."
Hal Pilger can be reached at 788-1548 or email@example.com.