By Jeff Gordon
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
12/19/2006


Rams coach Scott Linehan didn’t relish sitting down guard Adam Timmerman Sunday, thus ending his ironman streak.

“I think he was very disappointed,” Linehan said. “I 100 percent understand that, the competitor that he is and the teammate that he is to the other guys. It wasn’t easy. He handled it with class. As a competitor, he wasn’t necessarily happy about it. He is one of those guys who may not agree, but he is not going to be a guy causing any problems. If it is best for the team, he’ll go along with it.”

But Timmerman had been unable to practice all week because of his cracked ribs. Once Linehan elected not to start him in Oakland, he decided not to dress him because:

1) A week away from contact may help his ribs heal, getting him closer to 100 percent for the final two games. “Logic, to me, said if Adam wasn’t going to start or play, the whole idea was to get him through the game so he would be more healthy to finish out hopefully the last two,” Linehan said. “If you weren’t going to start, why play him at all.”


2) With Brett Romberg starting at center and former center Richie Incognito playing in Timmerman’s right guard slot, Linehan wanted center Larry Turner on the active roster in case something happened to Romberg.

“It’s easier to put a guy in for a couple of snaps and leave the other guy at his spot than to switch two guys,” Linehan said.

3) Turner also filled a role on the kick return team -- which, as it turned out, played just once. “Larry had actually done the wedge,” Linehan said.

4) Incognito moved back to his natural position, guard, and Romberg, played his regular position, center.

Those two, plus rookie left guard Mark Setterstrom, second-yard right tackle Alex Barron and rookie tight end Joe Klopfenstein could become the nucleus of future Ram offensive lines.

Together with veteran left tackle Todd Steussie, they had a strong game against an imposing Raiders defensive front.

“I thought they played very well as a group,” Linehan said. “They had their moments where we looked a little young in there, but the one thing I was most pleased with is we played very physical against a very physical defense. There were some tough match-ups at times in there. We won some and lost some, but we kept coming at them and we played on their half of their line of scrimmage for the most part. A lot of it was we were able to stay with the run pretty good.”

If Linehan had to set his starting lineup for the Washington game, he would go with the same offensive line unit. But he wants to see how Timmerman progresses.

“I would really hope he would be ready for Sunday’s contest,” Linehan said. “We would like him to be 100 percent healthy. It is all based on how he feels. If he can practice, that would enhance our ability to have him back in there.”

Elsewhere on the injury front, defensive end Victor Adeyanju (broken arm) has a chance to returning to his right defensive end post. “We’re very hopeful he will be ready to go,” Linehan said.

Safety Jerome Carter (ankle injury) and fullback Paul Smith (bulging neck disk) are still iffy. Running back Stephen Davis might have a broken hand, but he could play despite that injury. “It’s something that doctors felt he could play with, with padding or a small cast,” Linehan said.

Here were Linehan’s thoughts on a few other issues:

On the play of defensive tackle La’ Roi Glover: “He had his best game, by far, in my opinion. He was able to, early in downs, disrupt their timing. He was really the key to the first interception, forced that bad throw. He came back on the next series and got a real big sack. He really showed his all-around game this game more than any all year."

On the play of linebacker Dexter Coakley: “Dexter had a really solid game. He came up with an interception. He played very well, had quite a bit of production as far as tackles. One thing about Dexter is, he is a reliable guy. He has played a lot of games and started a lot of games as a linebacker in this league. That really showed yesterday.”

On the play of Romberg: “He understands the position. He knows the technique you need to use based on what is front of him, covered or uncovered. He really understands leverage and timing and using his hands. You have to be able to do that as a center. He is a natural at that. The one thing he brings us, he is a guy who has played the position. You don’t worry so much about the ball being snapped . . . some of those (shot)gun snaps become a little erratic with a guy like Richie (Incognito) who hasn’t been doing it a lot. The line calls the center has to make – they are really the quarterback of the line – for Brett is it (a natural thing). He played physical yesterday. He really played very well. ”

On staying alive for postseason play: “If we don’t win this game, the (playoff) scenarios don’t matter. The best way for us to control that is play well in our last home game, win the game . . . and then we can visit some of those scenarios going into the last game.