CAROLINA CRISIS: THIS IS BIGGER THAN YOU By Michael...
Bartell looks to rebound in 2010
“I’m one of those guyswho always wants to prove his worth. I never want to be looked at as a guy who got paid and just decided to coast. So that did play a factor in the back of my mind.” Instead of taking a couple of weeks off and allowing the muscle to heal, Bartell soldiered on. That only worsened the injury — and his performance, he conceded. “I think any player would tell you when you’re dinged up and you’re not a hundred percent, it works on you a little bit,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “I wish I would’ve handled it differently,” Bartell said. “I’d never really been injured before in the NFL … where I needed to sit and shut it down. Looking back on it, I probably should’ve done that.
… Sometimes you’ve got toput your ego to the side and do what’s best for the team.” The Rams’ bye week came at the midpoint of the schedule, and the thigh finally began to heal. “After the bye week, I started getting a little bit healthy, and toward the end of the season, I felt like my old self,” Bartell said. “But it was that one stretch of four or five weeks where I could barely run. It was tough.” It made him long for 2010 and a shot at redemption. “I thought people kind of overlooked me coming into last season. I had a lot of expectations, especially with the season I had before,” Bartell said. “Now I’m kind of back to being overlooked again.” Bartell has high hopes for the secondary. “Just another year in the system for the guys that already had been here is going to be huge, especially for me personally.
I can see a big difference, just from a couple of OTAs, from thisyear to last year.” One difference that Bartell assures will occur in 2010 has to do with interceptions. Or, the lack thereof. The Rams picked off eight passes last year — but none by a cornerback, a staggering statistic in today’s pass-happy NFL. “You had to remind me,” Bartell said, chuckling. “We had opportunities. I go back and watch last year’s film all the time. But … it’s over with. That season’s so far behind us. We’re just looking forward to this year.” After a pause, he added, “And I promise you that won’t happen again.”