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Can You Feel the Draft? The Rams Didn't

Ron Clements@Ron_ClementsCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 14:  Chris Draft #52 of the St. Louis Rams runs from the field against the New York Jets during their preseason game at Giants Stadium on August 14, 2009  in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Just days before the St. Louis Rams open their 2009 regular season schedule in Seattle, the team made a surprising move Thursday morning that could send shock waves through the locker room.

Veteran linebacker Chris Draft, one of most active Rams in charitable events around St. Louis, was released by the club after refusing to take a pay cut.

"They said because of their current salary cap situation, that down the line with the incentives they needed to pay to other players they'd end up being over the cap," Draft told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It seems like there's other people that that could have been directed to, that (a pay cut) wouldn't have impacted that much. It's a business decision; they feel like they have to do it."

Draft did say that the club told him they'd re-sign him Monday if another team had not picked him up. That move would save the Rams nearly $400,000 against the salary cap.

The Rams asked Draft to take a $300,000 pay cut earlier in the week. He was due to receive just over $1.2 million, but was asked to play for the veteran's minimum of $845,000. If re-signed by the club, Draft would get the minimum, minus a game check.

To replace Draft on the roster, the Rams re-signed linebacker Quinton Culberson. The third-year player from Mississippi State spent all of camp with the Rams before being cut last Saturday to get down to the 53-man roster limit. Culberson will see plenty of playing time Sunday as the Rams enter the game thin at linebacker, especially with Larry Grant nursing an injury.

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The lack of depth makes Draft's release even more of a head-scratcher, because Draft can play every position behind the line.

Thursday's move overshadows what had been an optimistic camp, complete with enthusiasm and energy. According to the Post-Dispatch, quarterbacks Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller, and running back Steven Jackson are adapting well to Pat Shurmur's new offense.

"It's a fun offense, and it's a proven winner," Jackson said. "As we see time and time again, teams that run this kind of offense are among the tops in the NFL when it comes to offensive statistics."

The offense has yet to be sharp in the preseason, but it will need to be against the Seahawks because it's unknown how the defense will react without one of its most respected leaders.

This article can also be found at the Midwest Sports Fans website.