Rams Begin Prep for Washington
hursday, August 26, 2004
By Nick Wagoner
After a couple days of consistently bad news, the Rams got some good news Tuesday night. Quarterback Marc Bulger had an MRI on his left knee Tuesday, but the results came back the way he hoped, revealing there was no damage. Had Bulger suffered a serious injury, it would have been the next in an extensive line of blows for the Rams in the preseason.
Kyle Turley’s back remains a question, Dave Wohlabaugh was released because of a hip injury, Jimmy Kennedy broke his foot and Travis Fisher broke his right forearm. None of that would compare to a Bulger injury that would cause him to miss an extended period. Fortunately for the Rams, it appears they have little to worry about in Bulger’s case.
Bulger said his knee is going to be fine. “It’s good,” Bulger said. “We just had an MRI just because we didn’t have the extra time to evaluate it after a day or two. With the short week, we just wanted to get a quicker diagnosis. I think you can usually tell when you’re injured, but I think it was just more precautionary.” Bulger said his knee was sore and he might be limited with running in the next few days, but he expects to play against Washington on Friday night.
Coach Mike Martz said Tuesday that Bulger was spun around and might have been hit on the kneecap when he was sacked in the first half against Kansas City on Monday night. Bulger played the entire first half before calling it a night. In his stint, Bulger was eight-of-15 for 67 yards and an interception. The Chiefs blitzed more than most teams in the preseason, taking advantage of St. Louis’ patchwork offensive line and sacking Bulger three times.
The protection must pick up blitzes better against Washington to ensure that Bulger stays healthy and the offense gets going. St. Louis has scored 17 points in its first two preseason games. Bulger said he can’t worry about anything but his own performance. “I think it’s pretty obvious we need to put the ball in the endzone,” Bulger said. “They are doing a fine job. I have got to shore up some of my own business. It’s not for me to worry about everyone else. The bottom line is we are not getting it done. “We could make a million excuses, but the bottom line is if we had 10 plays we should be able to score.”
NEW BEGINNINGS: Cornerbacks Kevin Garrett and DeJuan Groce began their first day of practice as Fisher’s potential replacements. Martz said Fisher had surgery Wednesday and there was no nerve damage. Groce has missed time because he sprained his left knee on Aug. 18, and he resumed running Wednesday.
Replacing an injured player is not new to Groce, who was in a similar situation in 2003. Fisher strained his groin against Green Bay on Oct. 19 and Groce came in to replace him. The next week against Pittsburgh, Groce made his first career start in Fisher’s stead.
Groce performed well against the Steelers, making a pair of tackles and snatching his first interception in the fourth quarter. He is looking forward to getting another opportunity to make a difference. “I’m hoping to play Friday, but I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Groce said. “There’s always been an urgency, but there is more of an urgency now. It’s exciting to know you’ve got an opportunity. This is one of our chances to go out there and perform.”
Garrett, meanwhile, has been healthy all through training camp after missing time in 2003 with a broken wrist. His pure speed makes him a top candidate to step in and contribute in Fisher’s place. Garrett and Groce started for Fisher and Jerametrius Butler, who were struggling with hamstring tightness, against Chicago in the first preseason game, getting some valuable experience, but this time it will be different, for both young corners will be competing for a starting job with more long-term implications.
Garrett said he hopes to take advantage of his opportunity against the Redskins. “Of course I want to go out there and do good so I can prove myself so I can relieve the burden off myself and let everybody relax a little bit to let them know I am capable of taking the job,” Garrett said.
With the inexperience of Garrett and Groce, it is obvious to them that they could be picked on by opposing quarterbacks. Butler will hold down his position on one side and, after a solid campaign in 2003, should only be better this season. That makes the young corners prime targets in coverage. “We expect that, I mean, we are young, we are new,” Garrett said. “They haven’t seen us much plus they are going to try to test us, but I mean if you go out there and hold your own it will be like anybody else. You’ve got to earn your respect.”
DISHMAN PROGRESSES: Guard Chris Dishman has made considerable progress since arriving at training camp weighing 375 pounds. Dishman immediately took on a serious diet, dropping 21 pounds in about two weeks to get to the svelte 354 he weighs now.
He said Wednesday that he needs to drop another 20 or so pounds to get to the point where he can play at his best. “It’s only been two week since I came into camp, so it’s still going to take a couple more weeks,” Dishman said. “The wind and everything was there, it’s just I’m slower moving off the ball than I’m used to. I think that has to do with being overweight and not working out since May. “I need to get down another 15-20 pounds and I don’t know how long that is going to take. The first 20 would be easy, but I’m not sure what the next 20 will be like.”
Dishman started at left guard against Kansas City and played 51 snaps before his night ended. He came to the Rams from Arizona early in training camp, and after the injury to Wohlabaugh, became an instant contender for the starting spot at left guard vacated by center Andy McCollum. Dishman said the injuries along the line make it important for the offensive line to begin to jell. “We only have like a week and a half of training camp left and then we’re ready to roll,” Dishman said. “We have to iron it out and click. I think we can get it done. We have to get it done.”
INJURY UPDATES: A few Rams returned to full-time 11-on-11 action Wednesday. Nütten, who wasn’t injured, but had not played since signing with the Rams last week, took part in team drills and will probably play Friday. Martz said he is ready to get a look at Nütten. “He’s up in weight, he’s gaining his strength back and he feels good,” Martz said. “I’m anxious to get him in the game and play him a little bit.”
Tight end Cameron Cleeland, who missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury and was shaken up Saturday night in a car accident, returned to team drills and moved well. Robert Cromartie, who didn’t make it out of the first day of training camp healthy, did some running and wore pads and a helmet for the first time. Fullback Joey Goodspeed is also recovering well from his hamstring injury.
Perhaps the best injury news came in the form of running back Lamar Gordon, who joined Groce in some running. Gordon had surgery on his left foot a few weeks ago and appears to be ahead of schedule for his return. Martz said Gordon was thrilled to be doing any kind of work after dealing with the injury since his junior year at North Dakota State.
“He’s coming along real well,” Martz said. “He had a smile on his face from ear to ear.” That left the only bystanders as Jimmy Kennedy (broken right ankle), Jeremy Phillips (neck) and Adam Timmerman (shoulder).
Re: Rams Begin Prep for Washington
Has it crossed anyone else's mind that once Gordon is again healthy he becomes great trade bait? I thought I had heard his name several times when teams like Miami mentioned trading for and RB with experience?
Re: Rams Begin Prep for Washington
Maybe; we could use a CB, a OG and OT. I doubt if Miami would have anyone good they'd be willing to part with.