Pisa Mind: Tinoisamoa Happy to be at Linebacker
Monday, June 6, 2005
By Nick Wagoner
Staff Writer

Pisa Tinoisamoa estimates that he popped his right shoulder out of place about eight times last season. After some offseason clean up of the shoulder, the only thing that seemed like it might be out of place is Tinoisamoa himself.

Soon after the season ended, coach Mike Martz announced that Tinoisamoa was probably going to move from his customary linebacker spot to safety. Although Tinoisamoa is slightly undersized for a linebacker, he has always played linebacker and has built his reputation as the prototypical tough guy at the position.

Tinoisamoa didn’t know about the move until it was reported. At first, he was OK with the idea, but eventually realized that linebacker is where he belongs.

“It was something that we were going to try out, but it just didn’t work out,” Tinoisamoa said. “We have got a lot of good guys in here now so we are pretty fortunate about that.

“I was pretty uncomfortable. At first I was more than willing, but after further review I decided that it wouldn’t be the best thing for me to do.”

Fortunately for Tinoisamoa, St. Louis brought in a plethora of defensive backs capable of playing safety. With the addition of the likes of Michael Stone, Michael Hawthorne, Terry Fair, Corey Ivy, Ronald Bartell, Oshiomogho Atogwe and Jerome Carter, the need for Tinoisamoa in the secondary was lessened.

Tinoisamoa finished 2004 with a team-leading 145 tackles, an impressive number considering his propensity for dislocating his shoulder. Tinoisamoa did it the first time in the season opener against Arizona. The shoulder was popped back into place and Tinoisamoa wore a harness on the shoulder for most of the season.

In March, Tinoisamoa had the shoulder worked on and said it feels fine.

“It’s a lot easier when you don’t have pads on,” Tinoisamoa said. “We went ahead and scoped it, stuck a couple of staples in it and they said it was resolved so it feels all right.”

Although Tinoisamoa won’t be changing positions, he will see some new faces next to him in the linebacking corps. The Rams signed Dexter Coakley and Chris Claiborne to plug in at strongside and inside linebacker next to Tinoisamoa.

Learning to play next to different players always involves an adjustment period, but Tinoisamoa says it isn’t much of one with players such as Coakley and Claiborne.

“(There isn’t much adjustment) when you are as good as they are,” Tinoisamoa said. “Chris and Dexter are some pretty good athletes and we knew that coming in so I think that’s why they are here. It hasn’t been that big of an adjustment. They have some knowledge and they know the game, so it makes it a lot easier.”

BULGER FINE: Starting quarterback Marc Bulger’s shoulder seems to be fine. So, too, is his back, his thumb and the rest of his body.

Bulger took a serious beating in the Rams’ playoff loss to Atlanta in January. In that game, he suffered all sorts of injuries. Bulger isn’t sure if he broke his left thumb, but he did injure it. He also strained his back. All of that was on top of the shoulder injury he suffered against San Francisco in December that kept him out for a pair of games.

Bulger didn’t suffer any serious injuries, but all of the little things added up. Only his back left cause for an extra look. That was the beginning of Bulger’s visits to the doctors.

“They x-rayed the back just to make sure I’m all right, but they didn’t x-ray the thumb because it wasn’t displaced or anything,” Bulger said. “They might have x-rayed it at the game, but we didn’t get an MRI or anything like that. It was the left hand. My shoulder actually started to bother me for a couple of months because the cortisone started to wear off. But the middle of March to late March it started to come back pretty well.”

Bulger looked fine at this weekend’s mini-camp, showing no ill effects from the offseason of healing. The only change Bulger made to his usual routine is he waited longer to begin his offseason work.

“Usually (I wait) until the beginning of April,” Bulger said. “This year I waited until the beginning of May. I feel fine. It takes a little longer to get warm, but it doesn’t get sore after so it’s kind of the opposite effect. I’m not really worried about it at all.”

Bulger ascended to the top tier of quarterbacks in the league last season, posting 3,964 passing yards and 21 touchdowns with a rating of 93.7.

INJURY UPDATE: The usual suspects sat out Sunday’s workout as the Rams wrapped up mini-camp. Aside from the collection of offensive linemen, defensive end Anthony Hargrove (knee), receiver Isaac Bruce (heart abnormality) and cornerback Travis Fisher (hip flexor) missed most or all of the workout.

The only new addition to the injury check is defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, who pulled a groin in one-on-one drills Sunday morning.

QB SITUATION: With Bulger firmly entrenched as the starter, the competition for the other two quarterback spots appear to be up for grabs.

Second-year signal-caller Jeff Smoker is aiming for the back-up position, but he might not be ready for the leap just yet according to coach Mike Martz.

“I wouldn’t suspect that is the case,” Martz said. “I’m not sure Jeff is ready. We are going to give him a lot of opportunities.”

Smoker will compete with veteran Jamie Martin for the spot with rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick having an outside shot at the job. Martin is likely the man for the job right now, but that is another item that will be worked out in training camp.

QUICK SLANTS: Second-year cornerback Dwight Anderson made quite an impression this weekend with his enthusiasm and speed. Martz called him one of the biggest surprises of the mini-camp…Anderson wasn’t the only impressive defensive back this weekend as new safety Mike Furrey flew to the ball and showed excellent instincts defending the pass…Finally healthy, tight end Roland Williams was running and catching with the joy of a rookie all weekend, if that continues he has a real chance to be a difference maker in the red zone which would be a welcome addition to an offense that struggled there last season…The competition in the secondary should be heated and probably won’t be settled until the end of training camp…Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy is in great shape, appears healthy and has a real chance to be an impact player this season.