By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
08/24/2004
The problems on the Rams offensive line aren't going to go away in a day or two. Coach Mike Martz conceded as much Tuesday, sifting through the ashes of the previous night's 24-7 meltdown in Kansas City.

The real question is: Can they be sorted out in 18 days, when the Rams open the regular season against Arizona?

"Provided that we can keep what we have healthy, with the addition of Orlando (Pace), absolutely," Martz said. "And even if Orlando's not here, we'll put out a first unit that will compete and play well."

But at the moment:

Left tackle Grant Williams has a sprained ankle that Martz said probably needs about a week to properly heal, although Williams may keep playing through it.

"We're so thin at this point," Martz said. "I told him, do what you can do. If he can't (play), this is his decision and I respect him. ... There's great character in that man. He wanted to be there (against Kansas City), and I appreciate that. I'm very grateful for that."

Williams had been wearing a protective boot around the ankle in practice but scrapped the boot in favor of extra tape against Kansas City. "The boot was causing numbness," Williams said. "The ankle wore down as the night went on. Certain movements, it didn't affect me. But whenever I had to push on it, there wasn't a lot there."

Chris Dishman is rounding into shape at left guard but still has a way to go.

"I think Big Dish is going to be fine," Martz said. "He's obviously a few weeks away from being ready physically. He's really out of shape, but he's light years ahead of where he was when he came in. ... He played much better (against Kansas City) than I thought he would at this point."

The recently unretired Tom Nutten still needs a couple of weeks before he's ready to play.

Right guard Adam Timmerman is bothered by a nagging shoulder problem, and may not practice or play Friday against Washington.

Right tackle Scott Tercero is a preseason bright spot, even though the blitz-heavy Chiefs threw a lot at him Monday. "He probably played the best of all the offensive linemen (Monday) night," Martz said.

The situation would improve dramatically once left tackle Pace, embroiled in a contract dispute, shows up. But when does that take place?

"When he gets here, he gets here," Martz said. "I don't have any idea how much work he needs because I don't know what kind of shape he's in. I don't know what he's been doing. I don't know anything about him.

"I have not talked to Orlando since the end of the season. He's not returned any calls to any of the coaches, any of the players, or anything else."

Which basically is the same tactic Pace took one year ago.

"I think that's what his agent wants him to do," Martz said. "Even though I understand the business, that's hard. Because you know you're thin, and you'd like to have him in."


Bulger is OK

Quarterback Marc Bulger's knee checked out OK after an MRI on Tuesday afternoon. Bulger has a bone bruise and his status is day-to-day, according to a team official.

"He hit his knee on the first series" against Kansas City, Martz said. "Got twisted around. I think he got hit in the kneecap. I didn't know about it until (Tuesday) morning."

Linebacker Tommy Polley (rotator cuff) and defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson (shoulder) have muscle strains, and also are listed as day to day.

At his Tuesday afternoon news conference, Martz indicated that Polley could be sidelined a week or two. But further evaluation showed that the injury is not that bad. Martz said Tuesday evening that Polley, Jackson and Bulger could all be available for the Washington game.

On a related note, Martz said Bulger and Chris Chandler probably will handle the quarterback duties the rest of the preseason, even though rookie Jeff Smoker was much improved Monday against KC compared with his performance against Chicago Aug. 12.


Faulk will play vs. Washington

Martz said Faulk will play "a little bit" against the Redskins. "How much, I don't know," Martz said. "We'll just kind of see what the status of everybody else is. I'd like to have Joey (Goodspeed) there in front of him."

Goodspeed, the Rams' starting fullback, sat out the Kansas City game with a tight hamstring, but could play Friday.

According to Martz, Faulk experienced some "natural soreness" in his right knee Tuesday. "But it's nothing like it's been in the past after practice," Martz said.


Rams cut seven

The Rams got a head start on the first round of roster countdowns, releasing seven players Tuesday: DT Richard Harris; WR Derek McCoy; LB Jason McWilliams; P Jesse Nicassio; TE Ryan Prince; LB Justin Smith; and WR Brian Sump. The only surprise in that group was Smith, who at one time appeared to have a chance to make the final roster.