By Cedric Williams
In a move that coms as somewhat of a surprise, the Rams released veteran linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar on Tuesday.
The team’s second-leading tackler a year ago, Dunbar was suspended for the first four games of the season this year after violating the NFL’s policy on use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The 28-year-old Dunbar signed a two-year deal with St. Louis before the start of last season, and performed admirably, with 157 total tackles, 4 1/2 sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
But head coach Jeff Fisher admitted he was “very disappointed” in Dunbar’s decision-making, and said that getting suspended for violating league rules was “selfish.”
Dunbar was scheduled to earn $1.3 million in base salary this season, and then would become an unrestricted free agent when the season concluded. Now he’s a free agent that can sign with anyone, although he would still have to sit out those four games once he signed with a new club.
Rams sign eight to practice squad
After making their final cuts of the preseason on Saturday, the St. Louis Rams named the eight players signed to its practice squad to complete the club’s final roster moves before the season opener Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome against the Arizona Cardinals.
All eight “taxi squad” players (which means they can practice with the team and participate in all team activities, but aren’t eligible to dress out or play on game day) were with the team during training camp before getting cut when league rules mandated the Rams trim their roster from 90 to 75 and finally to 53 for the start of the season.
The members of the Rams practice squad are wide receiver Emory Blake, defensive end Mason Brodine, linebacker/defensive end Sammy Brown, safety Cody Davis, tackle Sean Hooey, fullback Eric Stevens, wide receiver/kick returner Justin Veltung, and cornerback Darren Woodard.
After enjoying much of the weekend, Labor Day, and the standard NFL Tuesday day off, all 53 members of the regular roster and the eight practice squad players will be back at the Rams Park Training Facility in Earth City for practice on Wednesday.
DE Eugene Sims Signs 3-Year Deal With Rams
One of the unsung heroes of last season’s much-improved Rams defense, defensive end Eugene Sims, a true NFL success story out of tiny West Texas A&M, agreed to terms on a new three-year contract with the club on Tuesday.
Sims was already under contract through this season, but his new deal added two more years to his contract, meaning he will be a Ram through 2015.
A sixth-round draft pick by St. Louis in 2010, Sims has become a valuable role player in the defensive line rotation, who enjoyed his best season last year, when he totaled a career-high 36 tackles, record the first three sacks of his pro career, and even made an interception.
Sims is a versatile player who can play inside tackle or outside end for a unit that tied for the league lead in sacks last season, while also showing himself to be a terrific special teams player as well.
The Rams currently have nine defensive lineman on the 53-man roster and all are under contract through at least 2014.
Practice this Week
The Rams will practice from 11:50 a.m.-2 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday at Rams Park, then host an 11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m. practice on Friday, before moving to the Dome for a closed, walk-through practice on Saturday.
The Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday practices are not open to the public, but are open to the media. Saturday’s practice is only open to team personnel.
For more news and updates, visit St. Louis Rams Central.
Cedric Williams is a freelance writer covering all things St. Louis. His work can be found on Examiner.com.