Wednesday, September 15, 2004

By Nick Wagoner
Staff Writer

Isaac Bruce remembers Atlanta well. It wasn’t so long ago that he played the Falcons twice a year in one of the better NFC Western Division rivalries.

After the Houston Texans entered the league, the divisions were realigned into four groups. Since Atlanta doesn’t exactly border the Pacific Ocean, the Falcons were the odd team out of the NFC West. They joined Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Carolina in the newly-formed NFC South.

That move promptly ended St. Louis’ rivalry with Atlanta and the Saints. Beginning this week, though, the Rams get to renew old ties. St. Louis (1-0) travels to the Georgia Dome for its second game of the season against the Falcons (1-0).

WR Isaac Bruce said Wednesday that he is excited to play Atlanta again after an extended absence.

“I think those were some of the best games I ever played in,” Bruce said. “They were so close. We had fans that go down and they have fans that come up this way. In the past, we’d see each other twice a year and we’d kind of get tired of looking at each other. Inside this locker room and their locker room, I’m sure they are looking at it like one of the biggest games of the year.”

The Rams own the series lead with a 46-23-2 record since the teams first met in 1966. In the most recent meeting in 2003, St. Louis won 36-0 on Monday Night Football. That game was just one of the debacles the Falcons suffered through last season without quarterback Michael Vick. The difficult campaign led to a changing of the guard, as Atlanta replaced Dan Reeves with Jim Mora Jr.

Mora Jr. is the son of Jim Mora Sr., who coached New Orleans and Indianapolis. He was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco before taking the Atlanta job. He said he hasn’t had the opportunity to appreciate any kind of rivalry between Atlanta and St. Louis.

“I don’t know much about it,” Mora Jr. said. “Is it a rivalry? I just don’t feel that. I haven’t been here long enough to know who our rivals are. I haven’t felt it yet.”

ROSTER SHUFFLE CONTINUES: The Rams brought back tight end Mike Brake as a member of the practice squad. Brake took the vacant spot left by cornerback Dwight Anderson when he was moved to the active roster.

Anderson moved on to the roster after the release of linebacker Dedrick Roper and tackle Greg Randall.

In another move, St. Louis released quarterback Russ Michna from the practice squad. Replacing Michna is Drew Wahlroos, a linebacker from Colorado. Wahlroos was a three-year starter for the Buffaloes, where he earned All-Big 12 Conference honors. He spent part of the 2003 training camp with Philadelphia before playing for the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe. He spent this year’s training camp with Tennessee. The Titans released him on July 27.

The practice squad now has two linebackers (Tony Newson and Wahlroos), two tight ends (Brake and Nick Burley), defensive end D.J. Renteria, running back Dusty McGrorty, tackle Matt Morgan and receiver Michael Coleman.

INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa separated his shoulder against Arizona, had it put back in place and strapped a harness on. He played the rest of the game and played well.

After the game, Rams’ coach Mike Martz said he thought Tinoisamoa could miss as many as four weeks. A positive turn of events led Martz to announce Wednesday that Tinoisamoa is fine and will start against Atlanta.

“He’ll play, he’s fine, he’s going to start,” Martz said. “I think he’s got interchangeable parts is the only way I can explain it. I am very surprised anytime somebody dislocated a shoulder and comes back in. There is nothing torn in there. He is just going to wear a brace.”

Trev Faulk tore his hamstring and is likely out for Sunday’s game. Tommy Polley injured his ribs on a special teams play, but will probably play. Those injuries mean there is a good chance that Newson will be called up from the practice squad to boost depth at linebacker.

Adam Archuleta (lower back spasms), Shaun McDonald (sore knee) and Andy McCollum (lower ankle sprain) are all expected to play against Atlanta.