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  1. #1
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    Pace Preparing for Big Things

    Saturday, July 28, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    As Orlando Pace made the short haul from his St. Peters home to the team hotel to report for training camp Thursday, he took a little bit of time to reflect on where he’s been and where he’s headed.

    With a long term contract extension long since done and his most serious injury essentially healed, Pace had no worries upon his arrival at training camp.

    “This is something new the past couple of years,” Pace said. “I was just thinking about that on the way here.”

    Last season was a bit of a career crossroads for the Rams’ All Everything left tackle. Entering his 10th season in the league, Pace had long since established himself as one of the best left tackles in the league and, perhaps, ever.

    For the first time in years, Pace had a contract completed and was in training camp the entire time and he felt as good as ever. But all of that quickly changed.

    In Week 2 against San Francisco, Pace suffered a concussion that caused him to leave the game. He played through the lingering effects the next week against Arizona, but sat out against Detroit the following week.

    Just when Pace thought he had put that behind him, he suffered the worst injury of his career, tearing his left triceps on Nov. 12 at Seattle. Two days later, Pace was put on injured reserve, which officially put him out for the season and brought an end to his streak of seven consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.

    “That was tough,” Pace said. “It’s just one of those things. In football, you’re going to have injuries like that. I’ve been really fortunate to be healthy enough in my career to have that string going. Hopefully, this season I’ll start it up again.”

    Soon after the surgery, Pace had surgery on his arm so that he could begin his rehabilitation as soon as possible with the intent on being able to participate in the team’s June minicamp near full strength.

    Pace was initially taken aback by how long his recovery time was going to be as doctors estimated it to take about six months to get back where he needs to be to compete at the NFL level.

    So Pace did his best to get back to rehabbing as early as possible, a process made more difficult by the fact that he was unable to really lift weights like most offensive linemen should.

    Although he was injured, Pace made it a point to stay around the team as much as possible and tutor the younger linemen that were filling in. By the end of the season, that unit had come together and some of the younger players credited Pace for their development.

    That’s a role Pace says he will continue in this season.

    “This being my 11th year and know what the left guard situation is like, I am one of the veterans out there and I have to be a leader out there,” Pace said. “I’m really excited about the line this year. The young guys did well last year when a couple of guys went down. That’s what we are hoping for this year that that experience helps them and I’m expecting big things.”

    Heading into the offseason without a trip to Hawaii on the docket, Pace focused on getting into shape and reporting to camp in better shape than ever. When the team began its minicamp in June, Pace was cleared to play and no longer sporting the red “no contact” jersey.

    Although he was slightly limited in that minicamp, Pace departed with the knowledge that he would be ready to go in time for training camp. While the triceps injury has improved, it is not quite full strength yet, according to Pace.

    “Some days it feels good and some days if I sleep on it too hard it will be sore,” Pace said. “So you just never know what it will be. I understand that so you have to be cautious about it.”

    The only thing left on his plate was the mutual idea between him and the Rams’ training staff that he should report at a lighter weight.

    Pace did just that, showing up to camp looking leaner and quicker than he has in years. On check in day, Pace weighed in at 321 pounds, lighter than he ever has when checking in to camp. Traditionally, Pace has checked in and played somewhere between 325 and 335 pounds.

    “I think just the older you get in this league, the lighter you have to play and it will help out on my knees and hopefully with some of those muscles pulls and hopefully I won’t have as many of those,” Pace said. “I am just going to try to be in better shape so I can focus solely on football.”

    Despite his improved physical conditioning and enthusiastic outlook on getting back to work, Pace will still be monitored closely during camp. Coach Scott Linehan wants to keep Pace fresh and allow him to slowly work his way back to full strength on the field.

    In fact, Pace is one of a group of selected older veterans that will probably be on a two practices on, one practice off type of schedule that will allow him ample time to rest and recharge his batteries.

    “We'll rotate some of the older guys, as far as reps,” Linehan said. “There's a cutoff: If you're 32 or older, you get special treatment.”

    At 31, Pace doesn’t qualify under the age restriction, but he will still get the proper rest and amount of reps during this training camp. It might seem hard to believe that Pace is entering his 11th season in the league, but now that he is in shape and recovered from the injury, he is ready to return to his role as the team’s dominant left tackle.


  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Pace Preparing for Big Things

    321 lbs. is okay. Add on the whole NFL football gear and we have Big-O at 335+.

    That makes for better pancakes.

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    Re: Pace Preparing for Big Things

    A great shot of Orlando's version of a 'stiff arm' (I think it is now bionic):
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/photo?sl...oke102&prov=ap

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    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Pace Preparing for Big Things

    321 lbs? Where's the beef?

  5. #5
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    Re: Pace Preparing for Big Things

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    321 lbs? Where's the beef?
    it does sound a little light,but I think being a step or two quicker will work out much better for him,he's plenty strong enough at 321 lbs.

  6. #6
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    Re: Pace Preparing for Big Things

    For everyone who has complained about Pace and saying that he is getting old and losing a step, here is your solution.

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