Injuries force Fisher and Pace to sideline
Fitzpatrick glad he's earned roster spot

BY STEVE KORTE
News-Democrat

ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Rams tried to protect most of their key players, but they still had Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace and cornerback Travis Fisher exit their preseason game with the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night due to injuries.
"I don't think either one is anything to be concerned about," Rams coach Mike Martz said of the injuries to the two starters.
Pace suffered a sprained left ankle. He limped off the field after an incomplete pass with 7:15 left in the second quarter.
Matt Willig took over for Pace at left tackle for the rest of the first half, while rookie Alex Barron played left tackle in the second half.
Pace had his ankle taped and appeared like he was ready to go back in the game, but then headed to the locker room for precautionary X-rays, which were negative.
"I probably could have gone back into the game, but being this is preseason, they thought it was best that I sit out," Pace said. "It's no big injury. Nothing to be concerned about. I'll be ready next week against the (San Francisco) *****."
Fisher suffered a sprained knee in the first quarter. He was on the sideline giving advice to the Rams' young defensive backs throughout the second half.
The Rams are already without starting cornerback Jerametrius Butler, who was lost for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
Fisher broke his arm in the preseason last year, but returned to start 10 games and register 42 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and six passes defensed.
Safe and sound
Rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick entered the game against the Chiefs secure in the knowledge that he's already earned a spot on the team's 53-man roster.
Martz announced earlier this week that Fitzpatrick was safe with final roster cuts looming Sunday afternoon.
"It's a nice thing to hear, but obviously I still have to perform well," Fitzpatrick said. "I have to go out and prove myself every day, especially this week. It's just a great opportunity for me to get out there and get some snaps against another team and show what I have."
Fitzpatrick said he learned of Martz's comments about his job security from the mother of his finance.
"My girlfriend's mom called her last night, and she said, 'I just ready an article,"' Fitzpatrick said. "That's how I found out the news."
Fitzpatrick probably cemented a spot on the roster with his 78-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kevin Curtis in the fourth quarter of the Rams' 36-21 preseason loss to the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 21.
It was Fitzpatrick's lone pass attempt of the game.
Fitzpatrick tried to slip Curtis a $50 bill -- his meal money for the game -- as he was boarding the airplane to return from San Diego.
"I was just messing around," Fitzpatrick said. "We were on the plane and loading up and he was putting his bag up and I reached into my pocket and slipped him a $50.
"I slipped it to him in front of all the other receivers so they would see it. He gave it back to me without anybody seeing it."
Curtis said he thought about keeping the money, but then opted to give it back to Fitzpatrick, a seventh-round pick out of Harvard in the 2005 NFL draft.
"His conscious caught up to him a little bit and he realized who was giving him the money," Fitzpatrick said.
Quick hits
Among the players that didn't dress for the Rams on Friday were cornerback Terry Fair, who suffered a bruised spinal cord in the team's game against the Detroit Lions on Monday, and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, who missed all four of the team's preseason games with stiffness in his back.
Offensive guard Claude Terrell (flu) and linebacker Trev Faulk (back) also weren't in uniform against the Chiefs.
Tight end Roland Williams was in uniform, but Brandon Manumaleuna started in his place. Williams has been bothered by a knee injury suffered against the Chargers.
Quarterback Jeff Smoker didn't play against the Chiefs, a sign that the second-year signal caller will be among the 12 players that will be released this weekend by the Rams.
There was a moment of silence for the victims of Hurricane Katrina before the singing of the National Anthem.
The Chiefs terminated the contract of wide receiver Freddie Mitchell on Friday. Mitchell was signed in June after being released by the Philadelphia Eagles.[IMG]outbind://17-00000000CDEFE65C7EE55540B6C8B9BFADA19F5A84FE2F00/MailScannerWebBug[/IMG] [IMG]outbind://17-00000000CDEFE65C7EE55540B6C8B9BFADA19F5A84FE2F00/MailScannerWebBug[/IMG]