Wednesday, September 8, 2004

By Nick Wagoner
Staff Writer

An offseason that has seen plenty of activity seemed ready to settle in with the final cuts made on Sunday. That isn’t so for the Rams, though. St. Louis saw a flurry of activity Wednesday, including a failed free-agent signing, a trade and three new additions to the active roster.

With questions in the defensive backfield, St. Louis attempted to bring back Jason Sehorn, who appeared to retire after last season. All Sehorn had to do was pass a physical. Sehorn flunked the test and will not be signed to the one-year deal he was offered.

Sehorn took the exam Wednesday morning, but was unable to show enough improvement in his health to pass. He suffered from a broken foot in 2003 that plagued him through most of the year. Sehorn had surgery in February, but it wasn’t enough to fix what ailed him.

Rams’ coach Mike Martz said the team wanted to see if Sehorn was even healthy enough to make a comeback.

“We brought Jason in to see where he was with his foot,” Martz said. “After the second surgery, he just hadn’t healed as well as we had hoped. It just wasn’t a situation where he felt comfortable.”

The cornerback/safety played in 10 games, starting two last season. He finished with 26 tackles and had no interceptions.

The locker room at Rams Park saw plenty of new faces Wednesday as well. Linebacker Dedrick Roper and offensive linemen Darnell Alford and Blaine Saipaia joined the team Wednesday morning.

Martz said it is somewhat strange to be making so many changes this close to the beginning of the regular season and it can take away from gameplanning efforts.

“It can be a distraction,” Martz said. “It’s good to have so much of these things finally completed. Some of these guys, of course, we would have liked to had a few weeks ago, but thank goodness their ours now.”

Roper comes to the Rams from Pittsburgh, where he was an undrafted free agent. Roper said he was on his way to the field as a member of the practice squad when he got word the Rams claimed him. Roper played two years at Michigan State before transferring to Northwood (Mich.) College. He made a name for himself in the Whataburger Cactus Bow, a Division II all-star game with seven tackles.

Roper said he was thrilled when he realized he was going from a spot on the practice squad to an active roster.

“I couldn’t keep the smile off my face,” Roper said. “I liked it there in Pittsburgh, but I really wanted to play this year. Now, I have the opportunity.”

Alford came to the Rams from Kansas City after it put him on waivers Sunday. Saipaia spent his preseason with Oakland. Both players played against the Rams in preseason games, presumably making enough of an impression to get the call from St. Louis.

Alford said he already sees the comparisons between his old and new teams.

“I’m real familiar (with the Rams),” Alford said. “They have a very similar offense.”

To make room on the roster for the new players, the Rams released guard Andy King and traded running back Lamar Gordon to Miami. St. Louis released Tony Newson on Monday and brought him back to the practice squad Wednesday.

Newson wasn’t the only player added to the practice squad. Tight end Nick Burley, offensive tackle Matt Morgan and defensive end D.J. Renteria rounded out the group. Burley and Morgan spent training camp with the Rams. Renteria was with Houston.

The Rams might not be done with the roster shakeups yet, according to Martz.

“Maybe there’s another move or two left, who knows?” Martz said. “We’re always trying to get better. There’s always a move away from trying to help yourself every day. That’s a good philosophy.”

INJURY UPDATE: Tom Nutten (toe), Travis Fisher (broken forearm) and Jimmy Kennedy (broken foot) missed Wednesday’s workout with injuries.

Safety Zack Bronson, who signed with the Rams on Monday, was carted off the field after suffering an ankle injury. Martz was unsure of how severe the injury was.