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Barron is injured while filling in for Pace
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Rams rookie Alex Barron, who has a hand injury and is doubtful for this weekend, found himself at the most vital position on the offensive line for most of Sunday's game at Houston.
Perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace exited with hip and hamstring injuries with about 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter. "I could barely move out there," Pace said.
So Barron switched to the left side, and veteran Rex Tucker took Barron's place at right tackle. Barron, the team's first-round draft choice, "did really well," interim coach Joe Vitt said. "He's a better run blocker than I ever gave him credit for, looking at some college film last year. He's nasty. He's got athleticism. He's got length. He wants to play. He takes practice very seriously. He's got a chance to be very special."
But Barron is facing his own injury problems. He played most of the second half against the Texans with a hand injury and is scheduled for surgery this morning. A team source said Barron's status is "very doubtful" for Sunday's game with Washington.
Coach Mike Martz designated Barron, a 6-foot-7, 320-pound Florida State product, as the starting right tackle just days after the draft in April. But Barron fell out of favor when he missed the first 19 days of training camp because of a contract dispute.
Not long after Barron finally signed a five-year, $9.2 million contract, Martz said the rookie was so far behind that he probably wouldn't see the field at all this season. That changed in the third game, when Barron was sent in against Tennessee to replace a struggling Blaine Saipaia at right tackle. Barron, 23, has started every game since.
Pace's availability for Sunday's home game against Washington is uncertain, although he is expected to try and play.
Tinoisamoa gets his due
All the late heroics Sunday might never have occurred if not for an acrobatic interception by linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa early in the fourth quarter that kick-started the Rams' comeback.
The Texans, already up 24-10, were marching toward the end zone when Tinoisamoa tipped David Carr's pass, then turned and made a diving grab at the Rams' 15-yard line. The Rams scored on their next four possessions, including overtime.
"Pisa's played at a high level all year long," Vitt said. "I think he's clearly one of the top 15 to 20 linebackers in the National Football League. He's one of those guys that combine it all. He's a three-down player that can cover" receivers.
Tinoisamoa, a three-year veteran from the University of Hawaii, leads the Rams in tackles, with 98. Tackle Ryan Pickett is next, with 82.
Rookie wideout Dominique Thompson was re-signed to the practice squad Monday. Thompson, a free agent from William & Mary, had been released Friday to make room on the active roster for tackle Matt Morgan, who was promoted from the practice squad to provide depth on the injury-depleted offensive
Re: Barron is injured while filling in for Pace
If Pace can't go and Alex is out, the kid will be running for his life on Sunday. I can't recall a year that we have had some many guys out.