Rams, Polley share winning personality

St. Louis takes him 42nd

Terps' Jenkins, Jordan picked shortly thereafter

Nfl Draft

April 22, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

With the 42nd pick of the NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams gave Tommy Polley a chance to maintain the lifestyle to which he's become accustomed -- the winning lifestyle.

The 2000 Super Bowl champions were the first of three teams to select area players in the first round yesterday. Two picks later, Carolina took Maryland defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, and then fellow Terrapin LaMont Jordan went to the New York Jets with the 49th pick.

Polley won state championships as a member of Dunbar High's football and basketball teams. At Florida State, he won one national championship and came within a game of another.

The chance to play for a team one year removed from a world championship held a certain appeal for the Florida State standout, who, at 6 feet 3, 234 pounds, is expected to play weakside linebacker.

"It's a team that has a chance to win," said Polley, who watched the draft with family in East Baltimore and first learned he was chosen when he saw his name roll by on the bottom of his television screen, then when Rams' representatives called.

Polley must report to St. Louis minicamp in the next two weeks, where he hopes to help improve a defense that was often criticized as the team had a disappointing followup to its Super Bowl victory.

"I knew the Rams were going for defense," Polley said. "I'm happy to have a chance to win another championship."

Jordan -- a tailback who is Maryland's all-time leader in rushing yardage -- was hopeful about being a first-round selection when Jets coaches called him early in the draft.

However, the Jets already have All-Pro tailback Curtis Martin, so the Suitland native was realistic about his chances. "It didn't make sense for them to take me with their first pick," said Jordan, who also acknowledged that concern about his work ethic might have lessened demand for him.

Four running backs were picked earlier -- LaDainian Tomlinson, Deuce McAllister, Michael Bennett and Anthony Thomas. That didn't escape Jordan, who said he would prefer to concentrate on learning from Martin. Jordan also said he was prepared to reacquaint himself with special teams, which likely will be a part of his new role.

"It's been a while since I've had to do special teams," said Jordan, who must report to minicamp Thursday. "Whatever they'll ask, that's what I'll have to do."

Jenkins' selection concluded what he said was a tense process. It started in his senior season, when he recorded eight sacks and 17 tackles for losses to earn second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors. It continued through yesterday, when Panthers coaches kept him on hold for three minutes before the head coach, George Seifert, finally came on to ask, "How would you like to be a Carolina Panther?"

"It just relaxed me afterwards to hear where I was going," said Jenkins (6-5, 318 pounds), who had no idea that the Panthers were interested. "That's the hardest part about your senior year. ... You don't know where you're going."

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