He's been headache-free since Friday
BY STEVE KORTE
News-Democrat

ST. LOUIS - Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace was upbeat about his chances of playing in the St. Louis Rams' game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Pace sat out the Rams' win over the Detroit Lions last Sunday, because he was still feeling the effects of a concussion that he sustained on Sept. 17 against the San Francisco *****.

"I think I'm progressing," Pace said. "Just comparing this week with this time last week, it's 100 times better. No headache. No pain. I feel good this week."

Pace said he has been free of headaches since last Friday.

"I think that's what the doctor has been waiting for," Pace said. "He wants to see if I can go 3-4-5 days without a headache and then get out there and practice and see how it goes."

Pace said he's leaving the decision on whether he plays against the Packers to the doctors.

"They're the professionals, and when I tell them that I'm having headaches, I have to lean to what they're saying because this is my first time with a concussion," Pace said.

Pace did some light work in practice Wednesday. He'll gradually increase his workload the next couple of days.

"That's the plan," Pace said. "I did some individual work today, some walk-through type of things. Hopefully, I'll feel fine tomorrow morning, and then I'll go through more tomorrow."

Pace, who was listed as questionable on the Rams' injury report, said his teammates haven't been teasing or pulling pranks on him. Nobody has tried to hide his helmet to make him think he's forgotten where he put it.

"Nothing like that," Pace said. "My memory is pretty good."

Smith likely to miss two games

Fullback Paul Smith is out of the hospital, but he'll probably be sidelined until after the team's bye week (Oct. 22) because of the concussion and small fractures around his eye he suffered in a collision on the opening kickoff of the second half against the Lions.

Smith already has been ruled as officially out against the Packers.

"He should at least have a shot after the bye," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "We're not counting him out for next week, but he'd be highly doubtful."

Linehan said Madison Hedgecock would be the Rams' starting fullback with Smith sidelined.

"He has done a good job," Linehan said of Hedgecock. "It has taken him a while to get over that ankle injury. That slowed him down.

"When he played these last two weeks, he did a nice job blocking."

The Rams don't have a backup fullback right now, but Linehan said rookie Dominique Byrd could play in a H-back sort of role. Byrd has been inactive for the Rams' first four games.

"Assuming he has a good week of practice, he would certainly be someone who can fill that void, not as a fullback but maybe as an H-back type of a guy," Linehan said Byrd. "That's really his strength. He's been inching his way into getting active on Sunday, and hopefully he takes advantage of his opportunity this week."

Quick hits

The Rams' win over the Lions on Sunday had six lead changes. In Indianapolis' win over the New York Jets, there also were six lead changes, marking the first time there were two NFL games with that many lead changes on the same weekend since Week 3 of the 1986 season.

The Rams released safety Dwaine Carpenter, who was inactive for the team's first four games, to free up a roster spot for linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski.

Linehan said Kacyvenski, in addition to being a big contributor on special teams, will serve as a backup at middle linebacker. Linehan said Brandon Chillar, the starter at strong-side linebacker, also has been working as a backup to starting middle linebacker Will Witherspoon.