He hopes to be ready for start of training camp
BY STEVE KORTE
News-Democrat

ST. LOUIS --
Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace hopes to be ready for the start of the St. Louis Rams' training camp, but he's not making any promises.

"Hopefully, I'll be ready for training camp, but who knows," Pace said. "We will see what the doctors say and what the coaches say and what we think, and we will go from there."

Pace, who is working his way back from a torn labrum muscle in his shoulder that sidelined him for the final 15 games of the 2007 season, has been practicing on a limited basis during the Rams' minicamp this weekend.

"I'm just going through some individual (drills) and that type of thing," Pace said. "I'm just getting back in the swing of things, hitting bags, I guess. I am just trying to strengthen my shoulder. I want to get it back to where it was or even stronger than that and be ready for training camp."

Not that Pace, who has been a training camp holdout three times in his career, would be upset if he missed a couple weeks of training camp.

"I would not complain about that," Pace said. "Just to get back into the swing of things, I am sure I will be doing something, but I'm not sure what it will be."

Pace said he is eager to get back on the field after missing 23 games over the past two seasons due to injury. He suffered a torn triceps muscle in his left arm midway through the 2006 season.

"When you are in your 12th year, you kind of get used to things, but not when you have been injured for the past year and a half or so," Pace said. "The way I felt going into last season, I had a different desire and a different hunger and a different purpose for playing. I feel that same way this year."

Pace said the Rams' locker room didn't seem the same without Isaac Bruce sitting next to him. Wide receiver Reche Caldwell now occupies Bruce's locker stall.

"It's tough, man," Pace said of Bruce now playing for the San Francisco *****. "We were locker buddies. Not seeing Isaac here during minicamp is a different situation. We wish him the best other than those two weeks when we play him, and I'm sure we are still good friends, so I will try to talk with him."

Pace will be playing next to Jacob Bell, signed as a free agent from the Tennessee Titans to serve as the Rams' starting left guard, this season.

Pace said he's still getting acquainted with Bell.

"I watched him a few times, but I didn't know a whole lot about him," Pace said. "I know he made me feel old during his press conference when he said he watched me as a kid at Ohio State. That is about it."

Pace said he thought rookie offensive linemen John Greco and Roy Schuening would be good additions.

"One of them brought me a breakfast sandwich this morning, so from that standpoint, I think they are doing pretty good," Pace said. "Right now is kind of a tough time since their heads are swimming with so much information and so many different things they are implementing into the offense. I have been there before and I know how it is. I think they will be fine."

Quick hits

Rams free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe was held out of practice on Saturday after hurting his hamstring muscle in practice on Sunday.

"He tweaked his hamstring yesterday at the end of practice," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "He felt like it was going to be OK. He came out and warmed up today, but it just didn't feel right. It was too tight, and we don't want to take any chances with him right now."

• Offensive tackle Mark LeVoir sat out practice after aggravating a stained calf muscle that he suffered a couple of weeks ago during the Rams' offseason conditioning program.

"It got better, and we felt he was going to make it through the weekend, but he re-strained it yesterday," Linehan said. "We were hoping he would feel better today, but he probably has another week or so until he will get back onto the field."