Bruce, Holt show improvement in practice
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
It was a familiar sight, yet one that hadn't been witnessed at Rams Park for a month and a half: Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt lining up together with the first unit in team drills.
Although both veteran wideouts remain on the team's injury list - Bruce is questionable and Holt probable - they practiced Wednesday as if they fully intend to be in the lineup Sunday when the Rams (4-4) take on the NFC West-leading Seahawks (6-2) in Seattle.
"I thought that Torry ran better than he did on Monday, and ... Isaac, that's the first I've really seen him come out and run like he did today," interim head coach Joe Vitt said.
Before the bye week, Holt missed two games with a strained knee ligament. Bruce suffered a turf toe injury near the end of the first half vs. Tennessee on Sept. 25 and has been sidelined for five games. Vitt said Bruce wanted to play against the rival Seahawks "in the worst way."
Bruce and Holt have been one of the NFL's most productive receiving tandems since 1999, when Holt joined the Rams as their first-round draft pick. Together, the two have combined for 1,347 receptions and 20,683 yards.
Rams sign returner
David Allen lost a chance at the Canadian Football League championship, but he regained a spot in the NFL when he signed with the Rams. "I'm glad to be back in the States," Allen said Wednesday.
Still, he conceded that leaving his Calgary Stampeders teammates just days before their West Division semifinal match Sunday against Edmonton was a bit thorny. "It was a little difficult right in the midst of the playoffs and them having a chance to win the Grey Cup," Allen said. "But I felt that ... wanting to get back down here and play in the NFL was the choice I needed to make."
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Allen, 27, spent the 2003 and '04 seasons in Jacksonville, where he averaged 11.1 yards on 42 punt returns and 20.0 yards on 52 kickoff returns. The Kansas State product was released Sept. 3 and joined the Stampeders in early October.
Special-teams coach Bob Ligashesky, who worked with Allen last year in Jacksonville, said he planned to keep him busy as a return man. "One of his attractive qualities was that he can do both punt returns and kickoff returns," Ligashesky said. "It's obvious that we need to improve in those phases. It's an opportunity for us to upgrade."
The Rams are last in the 32-team league in punt returns; Shaun McDonald and Terry Fair have combined for a meager 3.6-yard average. The Rams stand 16th in kickoff returns, with a 22.4-yard norm. Chris Johnson has been the primary returner, averaging 23.1 yards on 31 tries.
Johnson, who raced 99 yards for a touchdown Oct. 9 vs. Seattle, said he planned to fight for his job. "I've been out there; I've proven myself," he said. "My goal is to go out to practice and see what happens. Then it's up to (the coaches) to make the decision."
Tight end Jeff Robinson has left the team and is expected to file retirement papers with the league. Robinson, 35, appeared in five games this season. ... Fellow tight end Cam Cleeland took Robinson's No. 87. That's the number that Cleeland wore in his previous two years with the Rams. ... Rookie right tackle Alex Barron practiced with the first unit Wednesday despite missing virtually all of Monday's practice because of flight problems. Vitt declined to say whether a fine had been levied but did confirm that the two had discussed Barron's tardiness.
Re: Bruce, Holt show improvement in practice
this is good news, we need those two on the field if we plan on beating the seahawks