Quinn Eager to Get Going

Posted Jul 31, 2011

As memorable days in life go, the one Robert Quinn had Saturday might be difficult to beat.

Although he missed his first NFL practice, Quinn had a really good reason for not arriving in St. Louis in time for the start of camp.

Quinn stayed back in North Carolina for the birth of his first son, Robert Quinn Jr. Soon after his 8-pound, 21-inch child entered the world, Quinn hopped on a plane and signed a four-year contract with the Rams which made him an instant millionaire.

To say it was a good day would qualify as an understatement and an affront to all that Ice Cube stands for.

“I don’t think too many people get to do that so it’s kind of a funny feeling,” Quinn said. “But it’s one blessed day, you could say.”

Quinn joined the Rams on the practice field for Sunday’s walk through as well as the afternoon practice but did not participate in either workout because of lingering issues from an offseason right knee sprain.

The injury is mostly healed according to Quinn but because he hasn’t played football in more than a year after being suspended for his final college season, the Rams want to take proper precaution so that he doesn’t make things worse by hurrying back.

So Quinn spent most of his time on the side with head athletic trainer Reggie Scott and the Rams have placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform- Non-Football Injury list for the time being. 

Quinn is eligible to come off that list whenever the Rams clear him, something that coach Steve Spagnuolo said he is looking forward to.

“Yeah, that’s probably an understatement, (I’m) real eager,” Spagnuolo said. “And he’s eager too. It’s been a long time since he’s played football.”

Indeed, Quinn’s road to St. Louis has not been an easy one. After he was suspended for his junior year at North Carolina because of improper contact with an agent, Quinn missed the entire season.

In the time leading up to the draft, Quinn faced questions about that as well as a benign brain tumor that was discovered years ago.

Still, the Rams jumped on the dynamic pass rusher with the 14th pick and believe he will one day form a dominant duo with Chris Long getting after the quarterback.
Before anyone gets ahead of themselves, though, the focus will be on getting Quinn re-acclimated to football and learning a new defensive system.

Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole believes it will work to Quinn’s advantage to have talented veterans Long and James Hall in front of him on the depth chart.

“He’ll have a role, there’s no doubt,” Flajole said. “Now he hasn’t played football in a year and he’s going to come in and be in the mix with some other really talented defensive ends on our team that had really good years for us in James Hall, Chris Long, C.J. Ah You and all those older guys really did a nice job for us. So we are happy to have Robert. He’s going to have to get acclimated to being in pads again and things like that but with his athleticism, he’ll find a place to immediately help us.”

In other words, because of the talent the Rams already have at the position, including promising youngster Eugene Sims and George Selvie in addition to the aforementioned trio, Quinn will be able to focus on a couple of things he might do best while learning the nuances of the game.

Because of the condensed time in training camp and the missed offseason training activities, Quinn is going to take some time to get up to speed.

“He’s not going to learn it all in two weeks,” Flajole said. “It’s too much volume and the time is too short. If he can master something, maybe he goes in and maybe the first thing that he does is he can contribute on third down as he is learning how to play run defense on first and second downs. Those are the things that he’ll give us some help there. Rushing the passer, things he would naturally…I think as he learns to play the position as a true defensive end, where you can play the runs as well as be able to rush the passer. Those are all the things he’s going to have to do. But his athleticism will help give him a chance to play right away, you know, contribute in some form or fashion. We just have to find out what it is. I know he’s an athletic kid, and I know he can bend, and dip and he is really a natural pass rusher. The other things we’ll discover out on the practice field.”

Quinn is taking the missed time in stride and trying to focus in on what he needs to do to help the Rams in his rookie season. He says he understands the situation but he knows he needs to prepare himself as though he’s going to be a starter right away.

That won’t keep Quinn from doing all he can to soak up information from guys like Hall and Long but it also means he intends to push them when he gets his chance on the field.

“It makes a lot of things easier when you have a big time vet in front of you but also at the same time you want to have that mindset of you never know,” Quinn said. “Something may happen to them so you have to be able to step up. You want to have both of those mindsets of learning from the vets but also having the mentality to go out there and perform when it’s your time.”

Quinn’s hope is that his time will come sooner than later. He readily acknowledges that he’s likely to have some rust on him considering his time away from the game.

On the flip side, he also believes his fresh legs and energy will be a positive for him as the dog days of training camp approach.

Maybe Quinn won’t soon have another day as joyous as Saturday but when the day comes he gets to step back on the field, rest assured it won’t trail too far behind in the standings.

“I am very excited,” Quinn said. “Learning from some of the vets and learning this playbook, I am very excited to get on the field.”