By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
09/13/2004
In Philadelphia, Eagles coach Andy Reid reported Monday that offensive guard Shawn Andrews suffered a fractured leg that would require surgery this week. Reid also said cornerback Lito Sheppard had a fractured thumb, but might be able to play with a cast protecting the injury.

In Tampa Bay, Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden said Monday that wide receiver Joey Galloway will be out four to six weeks with a severe left groin strain, and safety Dwight Smith was questionable for Sunday's home opener against Seattle with a bruised left rib.

In Denver, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said cornerback Lenny Walls suffered a shoulder dislocation and is expected to miss four weeks or more.

And on and on throughout the National Football League. Monday is an important day for injury news - to fans and reporters.

But in St. Louis, Mike Martz said nothing. In an unexpected twist, Martz refused to provide any information on Rams injuries coming out of Sunday's 17-10 season-opening victory over Arizona.

When asked if there was any update on linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who suffered a shoulder injury in the game, Martz said: "Any of the injury stuff, we'll delay until Wednesday. The league now, they would ask you on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to reveal (any injury information). So any issues we'll just address on Wednesdays."

The NFL has had an injury-reporting policy in place for its teams since 1947, in part as a service to fans eager for information about their team. But there are no guidelines compelling coaches to report injury information on Mondays.

Some coaches and teams were skirting, or even abusing, the old guidelines for reporting injuries. As a result, the new policy requires teams to provide more detailed injury information on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of game weeks.

In a memo to head coaches and team public relations directors dated Aug. 16 from NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, teams were reminded that the league policy on injuries "continues to be critically important to the integrity of our league."

The revised policy is designed to improve how injuries are to be identified by teams, and to provide an indication of the extent to which an injured player is practicing. It also stressed that teams should provide "credible, accurate and specific" information on injuries on game day.

But there is no mention - pro or con - of how information is to be reported on Mondays, when head coaches traditionally have "day-after" media briefings.

So it is unclear why Martz went the non-disclosure route. If he did so out of protest of the new guidelines, it was news to NFC information manager Michael Signora.

Teams can be fined for not complying with the injury-reporting guidelines, but again, Signora said he was unaware of any problems with the Rams last week - the first week of the new guidelines.

"I have not heard of anything, and I think if something happened, I would know about it," Signora said.

The Rams have always had the reputation of being fan friendly and media friendly, both in St. Louis and Los Angeles. But the flow of information out of Rams Park has been more restricted since Martz became head coach and Jay Zygmunt became president of football operations following the 1999 season:

In 2002, the Rams closed practices to the media for the first three weeks of the season.

Beginning last season, trainer Jim Anderson was put off-limits to reporters for injury information without the consent of the team.

On Sept. 5, the final cutdown day, the team did not release its list of cut players - the first time that has happened since the team moved to St. Louis.

Last week, Martz put defensive coordinator Larry Marmie off-limits to reporters before Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, Marmie's former team.

Martz was asked one other injury-related question Monday, about how the injury situation would affect the linebacker corps.

"I kind of know what that injury situation is, and we'll be fine," Martz said.

The team carried only five linebackers into the Arizona game. Tinoisamoa, the Rams' tackling leader last season as a rookie, suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the first half. He left the field to have the shoulder X-rayed, but returned before halftime and played very well while wearing a shoulder harness. After the game Martz said, "I would imagine that we won't have him for a little while."

But the injury isn't considered serious. If it were, the team wouldn't have risked sending him out in the harness against Arizona.

In addition, backup linebacker Trev Faulk suffered a hamstring injury and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks. Faulk's injury alone probably will prompt the team to add a linebacker to the active roster. Tony Newson, currently on the practice squad, is one possibility.

Martz said the fact that players such as Tinosamoa and Jerametrius Butler (dislocated fingers) played through injuries against Arizona "says a lot about the character and how important it is. They're very unselfish players. They understand how important they are to this football team. And they make that sacrifice and (want to) be counted on."