Rams Inside Slant

There was a certain level of confidence entering training camp that things would be different on the offensive line than they were last summer when there was constant shuffling in training camp.
However, the absence of first-round pick along with some injuries, have resulted in some shakeups that have put Rex Tucker at right tackle and rookie Claude Terrell at left guard. Terrell's play prompted the move of Tucker, who was moved to tackle when Grant Williams was sidelined by a back injury.

Tucker had struggled at guard, and was actually close to being cut before Williams was hurt. But in his first few days at tackle, coach Mike Martz was pleased.

"We moved Rex Tucker to right tackle which is probably where he belongs," Martz said. "We had to wait and see if a rookie was going to transpire the way we hoped. (Terrell) has been the biggest surprise (of camp). He's doing so well, allowing us to move Rex Tucker now and see if we can't get him situated at right tackle."

Tucker has been a guard during his career with the Bears, and hadn't played tackle since college.

"It is an adjustment, but that's part of this game, you have to do it," Tucker said. "There are a lot of things: the stances, the timing, the playing in space. There are a lot of differences, but the bottom line is you have just got to go out, work the best you can and learn to block those guys."

Oddly, when Tucker's brother Ryan was with the Rams, he was moved from center to tackle, and played right tackle on the 2001 Super Bowl teams.

"He has Ryan's kind of ability," Martz said of Rex. "We felt like he was going to have to play for us at guard, but having Claude come in and do what he's done is a bonus for us. Now we can take Rex and put him outside and groom him to be a right tackle. We'll see."

Tucker will get a lot of pointers in camp with the Rams having two line coaches - John Matsko and John Benton - along with the presence of Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, who helps the team's linemen during the summer.

After his first practice at tackle, Tucker and Slater were on the field for an extra 20 minutes.

"What can you say, he's the best right tackle that ever played and to have him show you things that work is a big help," Tucker said. "It's great to have him give you that extra time and coach you up on things that you need to learn, things that will help you block people."

CAMP CALENDAR: Camp "breaks" on Aug. 19.

NOTES, QUOTES

—Coach Mike Martz is pleased with the transition Adam Archuleta has made from strong to free safety. At free safety, he is responsible for calling the defense's signals.

"We've challenged him with that," Martz said. "It's not enough to know what you do; now you've got to have a grasp on everything going around you. That's the next level for Adam ... I think it's fun for him, the mental part of it. He's up to the challenge. He's never studied in the past the way he needed to. Now he's all over that stuff."

As for leadership, Martz added, "He's gotten to be very verbal, which in the past he wasn't. I think that comes with his confidence level and the fact that he's in a position now that's challenging for him."

—The Rams have had just one practice a day in pads, and there is extra time between practices. In addition, when some injuries hit the offensive line and running back, the team was out of pads for three days. A practice attended by more than 4,500 fans Saturday night was also done without full pads. The team then had two days off.

Most of the injuries are not considered serious, and Martz is pleased that total injuries is down.

"It's cut way down on our injuries, and the attention and the focus is way better than it's ever been," Martz said. "They're not just trying to survive practice now. We've gotten more complicated at a higher level than we've ever done (in camp) before.

"It's better than what I thought it'd be. Now ... let's just see how we play."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "His agent said to keep him out of (rookie camp), which is absolutely ridiculous. That really hurt him. So I'm not upset with the kid, I'm upset with the agent. I just think it's not right." - Coach Mike Martz on Roosevelt Barnes, the agent for unsigned first-round pick Alex Barron.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Jeff Smoker vs. rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick for No. 3 quarterback - Fitzpatrick has caught coach Mike Martz's eye and took unexpected reps with the second unit at Saturday's night's practice. Fitzpatrick wasn't told until five minutes before practice started that he would work with the second team. "He was outstanding," Martz said. "We gave him a lot of things to think about and didn't really prepare him for this. I was very pleased with his demeanor and his control of the situation ... very pleased." As for Smoker, Martz was asked the day before Saturday's practice whether he was pleased with last year's sixth-round pick. His terse reply was, "No." After Saturday's practice, Martz said, "I'm not pleased with Jeff's mental preparation. We'll see what Ryan can do."

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: P Reggie Hodges vs. himself - The rookie is the only punter in camp, and struggled in the Saturday night practice after doing well earlier. Coach Mike Martz said, "He has to do a better job. We'll see what he's got in the preseason."... WR Dante Ridgeway vs. Brandon Middleton for sixth receiver spot - Ridgeway is a rookie, while Middleton has bounced around several camps and was on the Rams' practice squad last season. Middleton has done well in camp and has a chance to make the roster if the Rams keep six receivers.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: DE Brandon Green - There are open jobs for defense end depth behind Leonard Little and Anthony Hargrove, and Green has made a move. While coaches knew he had a high motor, they have been pleased with other aspects of his game. "When we brought Brandon in, we felt like that was the type of guy we were getting, but I think he is probably a little more athletic than what we anticipated," coach Mike Martz said. "In discussions on him as a staff, we have all been very pleased so far."

ROOKIE REPORT: After a shaky start of camp, TE Jerome Collins has begun to make an impression as a receiver. He played just one season at tight end at Notre Dame... Undrafted free agent CB Duvol Thompson is competing for a roster spot, and has been given an opportunity on special teams. He looks to be at least a candidate for the practice squad.

INJURY REPORT: Starting CBs Jerametrius Butler (knee) and Travis Fisher (groin) remain sidelined as a precaution... LT Orlando Pace is resting a hip flexor... TE Erik Jensen, who missed his rookie season in 2004 because of a knee injury, is out with a back injury... DT Brian Howard has missed valuable time because of a hamstring injury.