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Pace is out; Linehan mulls next move at tackle
Compiled by Jeff Gordon
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The Rams won’t have all-pro tackle Orlando Pace for the rest of the season -- due to his torn triceps muscle that will require surgical repair and six months of rehab.
They also lost cornerback Travis Fisher for several weeks with a broken arm. “It’s the arm he hurt before,” coach Scott Linehan said. “There is a small plate in that arm . . . it could be up to four or five weeks at this point.”
So the coaching staff is mulling a number of potential moves. To replace Pace, Linehan said the Rams may:
1) Move Alex Barron from right tackle to left tackle, where he played in college and the first portion of his rookie season. “It would certainly be moving him from a position where he is comfortable now and putting him on the other side, but that is a possibility,” Linehan said.
2) Leave Todd Steussie at left guard, where he is playing well. “I’m not so sure it would be bad having that combination working together, Steussie and Alex.
3) Move Adam Goldberg into the right tackle spot. “He has played a lot more on the right side in his career,” Linehan said. “He is probably a little more suited as right tackle or guard.”
4) Work rookie Mark Setterstrom more at guard, to replace Goldberg as a back-up at that spot.
5) Look for offensive line depth.
To replace Fisher, the Rams could:
1) Start rookie Tye Hill in his place.
2) Move Ron Bartell, who has also worked at safety, up the depth chart at cornerback.
3) Get Jerametrius Butler back on the field on game day.
4) Use safety Corey Chavous to cover the slot in nickel defenses. “He’s done it and done good,” Linehan said. “That would probably be something we’re leaning toward again.”
5) Use the nickel defense less and the base defense more, with linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa adding some coverage responsibility. “He plays very well in space,” Linehan said.
6) Look for a depth cornerback.
Here area some other highlights of Linehan’s news conference:
On his team’s four-game losing streak: “When you really look at the situation we’re in in the NFC, however we got here, we got here. We’re 4-5. We’re kind of right in the middle of the NFC race, still, as far as playoff contention. Anything can happen. We have seven games left. We have to start getting some wins in a hurry. We have a lot of football to be played. We can’t get into a state of misery because we dropped some games.”
On the fatal punt coverage breakdown on Nate Burleson’s TD return: “Matt (Turk) kicked it to a very good location. We’re kicking to the right hash (mark) with 4.7 (seconds) hang. So our coverage was good. Our two gunners were down the field in case he lets the ball go, to field it. We were in pretty good position there. We had two players who had beaten their man. There are only six guys up on the block, so we had eight guys covering with six blockers.
"We had two guys in pretty good position. We just didn’t leverage the ball. We kicked it and pinned in there, but we just didn’t leverage and use the sideline. He was able to force two missed tackles. We might have just relaxed a bit with the idea he might fair catch it. Did he or didn’t he? Sometimes you don’t see that signal.
“It was a very good punt. You have to give credit to Nate. He made two unblocked defenders miss and then got up the sideline and was able to get past everybody but the punter, then beat the punter one-on-one. He was dead set on catching the ball and making a move and returning it. We didn’t put ourselves in the right leverage position. He was able to break down two guys and actually go to the sideline, which shouldn’t happen.”
On the soft coverage of the final kickoff: “We kicked it down the middle, because that is where he kicks it the best with the most hang (time). We covered it like we were making sure the guy doesn’t return it for a touchdown. Our lane discipline was not what it was on the first couple kick. We got out of our lane discipline and allowed him to get 10 more yards.”
On his controversial fourth-and-one gamble, passing up an easy field goal attempt: “Had to been shorter, we have one or two (running) calls that would have given us a chance to get it. Being that it ended up being a little bit longer than what I’m comfortable with the runs we had up, we were in a play-action (pass). It didn’t turn out very good because we had some errors there, too. It was a designed to have a short or long answer, it wasn’t an all-or-not play, but we didn’t execute it.
“We got that big turnover. My feeling was if we were able to score a touchdown there, we could have put the game away and made it a two-score game. Trust me, I’ve gone around and around with it. I learned a long ago, it doesn’t mean the play you called was a bad play, it just means the play you called didn’t work, we didn’t execute it. We’re playing to win and it didn’t work out for us. Hopefully we get in a situation like that again, it can set up better for us.”
On fullback Paul Smith not understanding where he was supposed to go on that play: “That can’t happen. If that happens out on the field, you’ve got to call time out. The assumption is that he’s got it, once he asks (for the play). You can’t go to the line of scrimmage without all the information. That’s an obvious thing. I talked to Marc (Bulger), I said that’s doomed from the start. You don’t want to use your timeouts. That would have been a good timeout to use.”
On his earlier fourth-and-five gamble, passing up a 49-yard field goal attempt: “It was a double-move. They do plan man (coverage) in that situation. We had a deep and short answer. We worked that for a couple weeks with Torry. The guy played it pretty good in that situation. We ran the same play on fourth and three when we played San Diego and we end up hitting Kevin (Curtis). Same call, different formation. The first option in man coverage with Torry.
“We considered punting in that situation, but it’s four-down territory. It was about four yards outside where were going to kick (field goals) had it not been a game-winner. (The limit) was Forty-five going that direction. That was the number we felt 100 percent sure. It was 48 going the other way. Looking back on it, I would still go for in that situation just because of the time of the game and I really felt our defense was going to come out and play well in the second half.”
On Richie Incognito’s personal foul penalty on the goal-line scrum: “Richie comes in late to defend our running back, but it’s not something you can do in that situation. It’s already done, you already have the touchdown, you do not put your team in a bad position. To state the obvious, that can’t happen. It’s the old turn the other cheek, a lesson you try to teach your kids.”