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 ST. LOUIS (AP) -Quinton Culberson was holed up in a hotel room this time last year, wondering if he would make the St. Louis roster.
Now, he finds himself on the verge of possibly being the Rams' opening day starter at strongside linebacker.
Although coach Scott Linehan hasn't declared Culberson the starter over veteran Chris Draft, he does admit it's going to be hard to keep Culberson out of that top defensive unit.
``I think he's put himself in a pretty good position for that,'' Linehan said. ``We're not naming a starter at this point, but I think 'Q' is making a pretty good statement at this point for playing time at that position.''
The fact that Culberson is even on the roster is a surprise considering where he came from.
After an undistinguished career at Mississippi State in which he played cornerback and all three linebacker spots, Culberson went undrafted in 2007. He signed with the Rams as a long shot before injuries created some opportunities. The more opportunities Culberson got, the more he excelled.
When cutdown day arrived last year, Culberson sat in his room at a local hotel and prayed his phone wouldn't ring.
``I saw a couple of guys packing up bags and I thought, 'Yes, I didn't get that phone call at the Holiday Inn,''' Culberson said. ``It's a big difference (this year).''
Culberson worked mainly on special teams as a rookie but recorded 14 tackles and forced a fumble in his only start at linebacker, the season finale against Arizona.
In the offseason, the Rams decided to let incumbent strongside linebacker Brandon Chillar leave for Green Bay as a free agent, comfortable in knowing the experience of Draft and potential of Culberson were in place.
``I was coming in this year focused on special teams, but when they let Chillar go I figured I might have a good chance of playing a lot if they didn't bring anyone in to play the position,'' Culberson said. ``They didn't and now I am getting my chance.''
Culberson has made the most of that chance while Draft missed most of the preseason with a back injury. In three preseason contests, Culberson has 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Linehan said Draft is more suited as a backup because he can play all three positions, seemingly clearing the path for Culberson to take over full time.
``The great thing about Chris is he's ready to play whatever role that we would ask him to play and he's good at all three positions,'' Linehan said. ``'Q' has really played very well for us here in preseason. He still has a couple of mistakes here and there, but he's always around the ball.''
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