Nütten Returns to Rams
Friday, August 20, 2004

By Nick Wagoner
Staff Writer

Tom Nütten spent the better part of the past year coaching tight ends for the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europe. It came as little surprise, then, when Nütten arrived at Rams Park on Friday afternoon looking like his players.

After five years with the Rams, where he started at left guard in both of St. Louis’ Super Bowl appearances, Nütten signed with the New York Jets in the 2003 offseason. Nütten battled many injuries during training camp and retired on Aug. 14.

Nütten, who was born in Toledo, Ohio, but grew up in Quebec, signed on with the Centurions, a new franchise in NFL Europe, in March. Nütten was one of a few former Rams taking part in a new program between NFL Europe and the NFL that allows young coaches to gain valuable experience in the game and get a comprehensive evaluation of their abilities. Former Rams D’Marco Farr and Amp Lee also coaching in NFL Europe in 2004.

Now two months after the NFL Europe season ended, Nütten signed a one-year deal with the team that gave him his start in the league. Nütten’s signing comes after a series of injuries and uncertainties along the offensive line has created opportunities.

Nütten, who was living in Tampa, Fla., was preparing to teach at a football camp when he got the call from the Rams on Wednesday night. With Nütten’s recent injury problems, the team ran numerous medical checks, which Nütten passed.

Nütten made sure to apologize to the kids ready to attend his camp, but he said he had to take advantage of a circumstance that was unique. “Hypothetically, people always ask ‘what would you do if a team calls you and wants you to come out of retirement,” Nütten said. “Obviously, I would say hell no, knowing it was a longshot that a team calls you anyway, especially your old team. If it were any of the other 32 teams, it would have been a real easy answer: no, no thank you, but these are the guys I bled with, the guys I sweated with. It’s an opportunity I didn’t want to let slip away.”

Nütten comes back to St. Louis with plenty of experience under his belt, having started 56 games as a left guard. The biggest problem facing Nütten right now is the number of notches he is using on his belt.

While most offensive linemen never lose their voracious appetites, Nütten actually lost between 20 and 25 pounds. His final listed playing weight was 304 pounds, but he estimated he is around 280 now. Nütten said he would attempt to add five to 10 pounds before the regular season begins Sept. 12 against Arizona.

When it was suggested to Nütten that he could join Adam Timmerman and Andy McCollum, “The Doughnut Brothers,” Nütten wasted no time saying that he wants to add a different kind of weight. “I think they’re kind of jealous of my slim physique,” Nütten said. “I’m sure the jokes are going to be flying here all week and probably all through the season.”

Nütten will probably spend most of the next few weeks attempting to add that weight. He said he expects to do a lot of weight lifting and running and hopes to ensure that any weight he adds will be muscle weight.

Nütten also has experience playing center and as a snapper, but for the time being will work mostly at left guard. With Grant Williams out with a sprained ankle, Kyle Turley out with a back injury and Orlando Pace at a contract stalemate, the look of the line now is probably different than what it will be when the season starts.

The top line Friday had Scott Tercero at left tackle, Greg Randall at right tackle and Chris Dishman at left guard, alongside constants Timmerman (right guard) and McCollum (center).

It should be easier for Nütten to add weight since he can have that as his focus. With his experience on the team, Nütten knows the system well and should have few problems remembering where he is supposed to be and when. In addition, Nütten’s body was able to recover during the year off.

Coach Mike Martz said the combination of those two things should help Nütten adjust more quickly. “The good news is when he left here he was pretty well beat up and he has been able to recover,” Martz said. “He played for us for a lot of years and played at a high level, so having him back in that frame of mind is terrific.”

BACK HOME: Martz cancelled the scheduled Friday morning practice in Macomb because of a storm brewing in west central Illinois. He said it was nice to be back and it showed in the indoor practice facility at Rams Park. “It’s good to be back here,” Martz said. “It was a spirited workout, guys are moving around pretty good, so we are ready to go.”

INJURY CHECK: Although there was a change of scenery for the team, there was little change on the injury front. Linebacker Tony Newson and fullback Joey Goodspeed sat out the practice with what Martz described as hamstring tightness. The rest of the injury lineup stayed the same: Cameron Cleeland (hamstring), Robert Cromartie (hamstring), DeJuan Groce (knee), and Kevin Curtis (shin splints). Williams did do some individual drills, but had a noticeable limp after practice.