By Bill Coats
09/10/2007 7:47 pm


Rams Park was filled with long faces Monday, a day after the deflating opening-day loss to Carolina. Other than a solid special-teams effort, there was little to celebrate in the two-touchdown spanking. Offense . . . defense . . . coaching . . . all culpable.

Toss in the distress over losing decorated left tackle Orlando Pace to a season-ending right shoulder injury (torn labrum and rotator cuff), and the gloomy atmosphere was understandable.

Still, coach Scott Linehan vowed that adversity wouldn’t overtake his troops.

“It’s a mind-set, a mental toughness thing,” he said. “You have to be mentally tough as a coach to not let it affect you and as players and the leaders of the team. You can’t ride that wave of being extremely high when things are going well and then if you have some things go wrong, you can’t get down in the dumps. I think the biggest thing is trying to maintain a consistent level of intensity, and it has to be high. . . .

“Each group has to pick each group up, and that’s what we have to preach and that’s what we are preaching. We’ll get better. We’re going to be a football team that sticks together and does not get divided because of a tough opening loss. . . .

“The focus is now that we have another home game (against the *****) and we have an opportunity to go 1-0 in our division – we did not start out 1-0 last year in our division. That’s where our mind has to be. You can’t get into a funk.”

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The Rams went 5-3 last year after Pace’s season ended with a torn triceps in his left arm. But that was with veteran Todd Steussie stepping in at left tackle. Steussie is out for at least half the season with a broken bone in his foot.

So, what to do?

One option is moving Alex Barron from right tackle to left; he played mostly on the left side at Florida State. But that would force a change at two spots instead of one. Another possibility is keeping Adam Goldberg, who filled in effectively vs. Carolina, at left tackle. But Goldberg had problems there last season.

The Rams are bringing in at least a couple of street free agents for look-sees Tuesday, but it’s unreasonable to believe a newcomer could be ready to play vs. Frisco on Sunday.

“Whatever we decide, we’ll want to stay that way,” Linehan said. “I think moving guys already is a hard strain on that line, trying to get it together for working as a group. It’s what we have to deal with, but I think keeping them at the spot that we decide to keep them at is the best.”

All for now . . .