St. Louis Rams CB Justin King might just be the man of the hour tonight. With corners above and below him on the depth chart hurting, King will start tonight's game and likely see even more playing time after the bulk of the starters leave the field. Could this be King's time to shine?
A fourth-round pick in 2008, this should technically be his fourth season in the league. It's really his third, after a preseason toe injury exiled him to IR as a rookie. Many thought the Rams got a steal on King in the draft, a player with raw skills, who probably needed another year of growth in college. He graduated in three years. With the Rams, King has had his moments, and has shown a steady amount of growth since Spagnuolo took over. Obviously, the meteoric rise of Bradley Fletcher is more the exception than than rule; other corners, like King, take some time to get things figured out before reaching their full potential.
According to Spagnuolo, King is having a great training camp so far. As relayed via Jim Trotter:
Coach Spagnuolo recently told King that he believed the former Penn State product might be having the best camp of any player. That's huge because cornerback play is an area that needs to improve for the Rams to make a serious run at the playoffs.
St. Louis thought it got a steal when it drafted King in the fourth round in 2008, but injuries have prevented him from having a shot at realizing his potential.
"I do like the way he plays," says Spagnuolo. "He's a feisty guy. He's bounced back nicely and needs to continue to build on that."
A powerful endorsement from a man who knows a thing or two about defensive backs.
You may have a sense of deja vu with King in the preseason. Last year, with Ron Bartell dealing with minor injuries, King earned extra playing time. To start the season, however, he was replaced mostly by Kevin Dockery at nickel, before they finally ended the Dockery experiment.
Cornerback depth was a problem for the Rams last year. Bartell dealt with nagging injuries, and the Rams got burned on more than one occasion because of it. Adding another veteran corner, as is being talked about, might be a smart move.
And here we are again with King, replacing a starter, ready to earn some more playing time and cement his place as a viable top three cornerback. Keep an eye on King tonight.