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Thread: Inside Slant
Left tackle Orlando Pace continues to work toward another comeback after missing virtually all of the 2007 season because of a torn labrum.
Pace played in just 10 games in 2006 after suffering a torn triceps, and worked hard to be back on the field for the '07 season. However, in the first half of the season opener against Carolina, he went to the sideline again. It took a while to get over the reality that another season had been lost.
"The triceps was tough, but when I did the shoulder, it was one of the toughest things I've had to handle, not only in my professional career but in my life," he said. "I was so excited about coming back and playing last year ... and I couldn't even make it through one game. It was so disappointing. It took me awhile to get over it mentally."
The Rams hold their mandatory minicamp this weekend (May 9-11), and Pace is expected to do little. However, all signs point to him being ready to go all out when training camp begins at the end of July.
"It feels pretty good," Pace said recently. "When it first started, it was a slow process. But now it's a matter of lifting weights and getting it strong again, getting it back up to where I was.
"Once I get the strength back up, the contact ... is easy to come back."
Pace knows the importance of him being back, as well as being able to have continuity on the line. He, left guard Mark Setterstrom and right guard Richie Incognito missed a total of 40 games last season.
"I'd never seen anything like that," he said. "Every week it seemed like somebody was going down and we were on the waiver wire, getting guys to come in, guys off the street. That made it tough for us.
"As a group, you have to have guys that have played together ... at least know the first and last name of the guy that's playing next to you."
After missing 21 games the last two seasons, the 32-year-old Pace is eager to be on the field again.
"I just want to play," Pace said. "Sometimes late in their career, guys get to the point where you kind of take this game for granted a little bit. (However, the injuries have) reignited a new type of hunger and motivation for me. I just want to go out, play and be a part of the team again."
—Coach Scott Linehan likes what the Rams have done in the offseason, quickly replacing the retired Jeff Wilkins with kicker Josh Brown and signing Jacob Bell to play left guard.
But Linehan also loved the opportunity to bring in quarterback Trent Green as the backup to Marc Bulger.
Said Linehan, "What Trent brings to the team is credibility and leadership, I know he's going to help Marc a ton. And he's giving you a backup that you know you can win with."
Recently, Linehan related what Green did when the team's offseason program began in March and his flight to St. Louis was canceled.
Said Linehan, "He got three connections, and got to St. Louis at 4 in the morning — or something crazy like that — and was at the facility at 6 a.m. He wanted to be the first guy there. That's kind of old school. That's awesome."
—WR Derek Stanley was back in school this offseason at Wisconsin-Whitewater working toward his degree. Coach Scott Linehan knew that. What Linehan didn't know was that Stanley competed with the school's track team.
"I'll sit down and visit with him," Linehan said when told of what Stanley had done. "He and I never discussed (that); this is the first I've heard of it. That's something that probably won't be happening many times again."
Said Stanley, "I just figured a good way to get back in shape and get my speed back would be to run track. Doing track workouts and sprint workouts are essentially the same things I'd be doing back in St. Louis."
Stanley finished sixth in the long jump at the Division III championship in March, and his school was seventh.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I like that; it creates competition. It's a natural motivator. I think it's going to be a real healthy thing." — Coach Scott Linehan on the addition of two rookie wide receivers in the second and fourth rounds.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
—C/G Andy McCollum started at left guard and center during the '07 season, but hasn't made a decision whether he wants to play another season.
—S Hanik Milligan played mostly on special teams when he was on the field.
—LB Raonall Smith is a solid special teams player and backup linebacker, but ended the '07 season on injured reserve with a knee injury.
—T/G Todd Steussie wants to return for another season, but it's unknown where he fits on the line. Suffered a broken foot at the end of the preseason and came back for the final six games of the season.
—TE Aaron Walker is a decent blocker who saw his season end because of a shoulder injury. Likely not back after addition of Anthony Becht.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
—RB Rich Alexis (not tendered as ERFA) was signed late in the season after being cut in training camp.
—DE Trevor Johnson (not tendered as RFA) was a situational player that is expendable.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
—G Jacob Bell: UFA Titans; $36M/6 yrs, $7M SB/$6M base salaries guaranteed 08-09; 2008 cap: $3.167M.
—TE Anthony Becht: UFA Buccaneers; $2M/2 yrs, $270,000 SB; 2008 cap: $865,000.
—K Josh Brown: UFA Seahawks; $14.2M/5 yrs, $4M SB; 2008 cap: $1.8M.
—WR Reche Caldwell: UFA Redskins; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
—QB Trent Green: FA Dolphins; $8.9M/3 yrs, $2.1 SB/$900,000 reporting bonus; 2008 cap: $2.6M.
—CB David Macklin: UFA Redskins; $770,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
—S Jerome Carter: Not tendered as RFA; $520,000/1 yr, no SB; 2008 cap: $445,000.
—T/G Adam Goldberg: UFA; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
—OT Brandon Gorin: UFA; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
—DE James Hall: FA; had been released by Rams; 2 yrs, $3M/2 yrs, $700,000 SB.
—RB Travis Minor: Potential UFA; $755,000/1 yr, $20,000 SB.
—S Oshiomogho Atogwe: RFA; $2.017M/1 yr.
—C Brett Romberg: UFA; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
—G Milford Brown: UFA Panthers; $5.5M/2 yrs, $1M SB.
—WR Isaac Bruce (released).
—TE Dominique Byrd (released).
—LB Brandon Chillar: UFA Packers; $5.4M/2 yrs, $550,000 SB/$1M RB.
—QB Gus Frerotte (released).
—PK Jeff Wilkins (retired).
Re: Inside Slant
Common Pace, keep working.
Pace and Bell on that left side could allow Jackson to have a huge year.
Re: Inside Slant
Pace sounds like a man who realizes what a great gift has almost been snatched from him as a result of the injuries these last two years. He sounds like a rookie who wants to prove something. That's is a good sign FOR RAM FOOTBALL!!!!
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