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Punters battle for lone spot on roster
Posted on Fri, Aug. 04, 2006
ST. LOUIS - To win the St. Louis Rams' punter job, Andy Groom knows he's going to have to be a little like a challenger fighting a champion in the champion's hometown.
To beat out 12-year NFL veteran Matt Turk, he's going to have to score a knockout.
"You have a lot of guys who have been around forever and the coaches feel good because they have game experience," Groom said Friday. "It's hard to break into the league."
This is the fourth camp for the 26-year-old Groom, who's had shots in Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Washington. He played two games last season with the Redskins, with 11 punts for a 39-yard average. And he said if he doesn't make it, this camp is his last.
"I've had to say no to too many job opportunities," said Groom. "It's time to make some money."
For now, Groom said all he wants is a chance. "I just want a fair shot," he said. "This is my fourth camp and I haven't had one yet. I hope that the better man wins."
The Rams begin preseason play Thursday, hosting Indianapolis. Turk will kick in the first half, Groom the second.
Turk, who missed last season with a groin injury suffered in the preseason, had a setback early in camp, sitting out Monday's practice after fluid was drained from his knee. He has a 42.4-yard career average.
Turk took his offseason release from the Dolphins in stride.
"I tend not to worry too much about things like that," said the 36-year-old Turk who has punted for the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.
Rams coach Scott Linehan, who was Miami's offensive coordinator before being named as Mike Martz's replacement in St. Louis, said the two punters are doing well in camp. The key, he said, is consistency.
"Matt has been a little inconsistent," Linehan said. "I put a lot of that on the fact that he has had the setback with the knee. I see that he is feeling better, not having the swelling. He punted very good when he came back after they had taken the fluid out of his knee."
As for Groom, Linehan said, "He's got a big leg. He's one of those guys who I've been talking about needs to develop more consistency. That's the key. He comes out one day and really hits it. Then another day, he'll not hit it as well."
NOTES: Safety Ron Bartell's ankle sprain is a "mild" one, Linehan said. Bartell hurt his ankle Thursday working on drills. It wasn't clear when he would return. ... LB Drew Wahiroos has a broken bone in his hand that will require surgery and a pin placed in it. It wasn't clear how long he will be out. ... the Rams will have a controlled scrimmage Saturday with NFL officials working ... Linehan is giving his players the day off Sunday