ST. LOUIS — Bobby Carpenter is looking forward to a fresh start.
Both Carpenter and Barron are former first-round draft picks who have not lived up to expectations with their now-former teams. Barron was the 19th overall selection in the 2005 NFL draft and started 74 of 76 career games with the Rams. Frustrating false start and holding penalties, along with inconsistent play, prompted the Rams to move a player many believe has Pro Bowl talent.
"As we continue to shape our roster and address the needs of our club, we believe this trade helps improve our team," Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo said in a statement. "We wish Alex the best and appreciate his efforts as a member of the St. Louis Rams."
Carpenter, who the Cowboys made the No. 18 pick in the 2006 draft, has made just two starts in four seasons. Both of those came last season when he made 48 tackles with two sacks. He has totaled 66 tackles with 3.5 sacks in his four-year career, primarily as a backup in the Cowboys’ 3-4 defensive scheme.
The 6'2", 249-pound Carpenter said he’s excited to jump into the Rams’ 4-3 defense under Spagnuolo and defensive coordinator Ken Flajole.
"It’s going to be a great opportunity to come here," Carpenter said in a teleconference with the media on Monday. "They’ve got some great defensive minds and really a young team, so I think it’s going to be really enthusiastic, a lot of energy, and I think we’re looking to hopefully accomplish some big things this year."
An Ohio State product, Carpenter finished his college career 10th on the school’s all-time sacks list with 14.5 along with 191 career tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions. He’ll be joining a linebacking corps that already has former Buckeyes Na’il Diggs, Larry Grant and James Laurinaitis.
"That’s definitely an anomaly in the NFL to have four guys in a position group all from the same school," Carpenter said. "It’ll be great to come in and to play with those guys."
The 6'7", 315-pound Barron had been a restricted free agent before agreeing to a one-year tender. He led the NFL with five holding calls and 14 penalties last season. Still, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement that Barron was "just entering his prime years in the NFL."
"That experience is invaluable for a young offensive lineman," Jones said. "It also speaks to his durability and versatility having started at both tackle positions."
Barron’s departure could mean that this year’s second-round draft choice, Indiana’s Rodger Saffold, could start opposite Jason Smith, last year’s No. 2 overall pick who missed eight games last year after suffering a concussion.
The Rams went 1-15 last season, and have won just six games in three years. Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney have overhauled the roster the last two seasons, so Carpenter isn’t worried about coming into a losing culture.
"I would have been concerned had I not seen the last couple of games last season, and seeing how hard that the defense played when they were 1-13 and they’d been on the field a lot. Those guys were still out there battling, playing hard with a great amount of effort," said Carpenter, who played in four career playoff games with the Cowboys. "Then coming in here, and seeing how energetic everybody is, it’s refreshing."
Carpenter was in St. Louis over the weekend, taking a physical and said he "briefly sat down" with the coaches, going over schematics. He said his role has not been discussed, but added that his "fast and rangy" style of play fits in well with the Rams’ aggressive defensive schemes.
"That’s something Coach Spags loves," Carpenter said. "I think I kind of fit that role."
Carpenter will probably be slotted as an outside backer, and played a "tremendous amount on third down in pass coverage and blitzing" with the Cowboys. He said having to cover Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten in Dallas will not only bolster a Rams defense that allowed seven touchdowns to tight ends last season, but can also teach a few things to the Rams young group of tight ends.
"Being able to work with Jason Witten every day the last four years has really helped my coverage skills grow," Carpenter said. "Witten is a tremendous pro. If there’s anything I can help (the Rams tight ends) with, anything that can help the team, that’s what I’m here for."
This article can also be found at The Alton Telegraph .