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  1. #1
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    Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/16/2004

    Rams linebacker Tommy Polley was happy last May at minicamp, but he was demoted to second string Sunday.
    (Chris Lee/P-D)

    MACOMB, Ill. - Who said exhibition games are meaningless?

    That wasn't the case Sunday for Tony Newson and Scott Tercero, and conversely, Tommy Polley and Andy King.

    In the Rams' first practice since Thursday's exhibition opener, against Chicago, Newson found himself with the starting unit at outside linebacker in the base defense. Polley was working with the second string.

    On the offensive line, Tercero worked with the first unit at left guard, with King moving from starting left guard to second-team right tackle.

    Newson said he was pulled aside by linebackers coach Joe Vitt about 20 minutes before Sunday's practice and told: "We're going to make a little change today."

    "That was a wrench thrown at the last minute," Newson said. "So it was quite a surprise."

    Newson played weakside linebacker for the rest of the Bears game after Pisa Tinoisamoa suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter.

    "It gave me a chance to kind of earn a little bit of the coach's trust," Newson said. "So I thought I did pretty good."

    Apparently, so did Vitt, because on Sunday Newson was ahead of Polley at the strongside spot.

    Tercero was told of his switch by offensive line coach John Matsko in meetings before practice.

    "I was surprised at first, but I have more experience at guard," Tercero said. "So I feel a little bit more comfortable there."

    He started at right tackle against the Bears and played very well, but guard is his natural position from his college days at the University of California.

    With nearly a month remaining before the season opener, it may be premature to read too much into Sunday's depth-chart shuffling. Nonetheless, coaches don't make such changes on a whim. Even for one practice.

    So are these new job assignments permanent?

    "I have no idea. I really don't," Tercero said. "And I try not to read into that. Wherever they put me, I'll play as well as I can, and then we'll go from there."

    Newson said, "I'm not even going to speak on that right now. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Right now the wind is twirling."

    The biggest surprise would be if Newson held off Polley for the starting job.

    Polley, 26, has been a starting outside linebacker for the Rams since early in his rookie season of 2001. He was second on the team in tackles in '01 (with 119), and last season (with 115). Last season, Polley shared the team interception lead (four) with three other players.

    Polley was all over the field in the Aug. 7 scrimmage against Chicago but wasn't effective against the Bears in Thursday's game.

    Keep in mind also that Polley is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after this season, so this is an important year for him.

    Newson, 24, signed with Kansas City as an undrafted rookie in 2002 out of Utah State. He spent most of that year on the Chiefs' practice squad but played in the final four games of the regular season.

    Last season, he suffered a fractured sternum on the second day of camp and was cut by the Chiefs at the end of the preseason.

    Newson rejoined Vitt - his position coach in KC - by signing with the Rams on March 15. Being with a position coach he knows makes a world of difference, Newson said.

    "I know his terminology," Newson said. "I know the way he's going to coach. I know what he expects of me. There's somewhat of a comfort to it. But you've still got to go out there and perform no matter who the coach is."

    As for Tercero, some observers and team officials felt he'd be in the mix at left guard all along, once it became apparent that center Dave Wohlabaugh (hip) would be sidelined for some time. (That injury moved last year's left guard, Andy McCollum, back to center.)

    But Kyle Turley's back injury and Orlando Pace's contract impasse forced Tercero to tackle in late spring.

    Wherever he has played, Tercero has displayed toughness, quick feet and sound technique. King also is a tough-minded player, but isn't as athletic as Tercero.

    Tercero "is going to do everything you ask him to, I know that," coach Mike Martz said. "He won't make mistakes. We'll let him get adapted to," left guard.

    While taking nothing for granted, Tercero says the more snaps he can get with the starting unit, the better. No matter what position he's playing.

    "Just playing next to Grant Williams and Andy McCollum right now - two really good players - the more experience I can get, the better my career will be," Tercero said.


  2. #2
    elAcky Guest

    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    no surprise to me... Polley hasn't a clue how to defend the run (along with D.Lewis) and had a terrible season last year. IMO - he is average at best and is cannon fodder for Free agency this offseason..

    I don't see Newson there long term though... maybe Chillar gets a shot..

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    Polley can be effective against the run, just hasn't shown it recently. I'm hoping this is just a simple wake up call.

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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    I'm hoping this is just a simple wake up call.
    It's a wake up call all right. It should wake people up to the fact that the Rams have sorely needed a proven LB, preferably at MLB, for at least the last two years. Dipping into the grab bag of journeymen will not cut it for adding depth or stablity, while waiting for unproven LBs to establish themselves.

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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    The only problem at MLB has been health issues with Thomas. If he can stay healthy, we are fine in the middle. Polley needs to really step up his running defense. He has to as he plays the strong side LB.

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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    The only problem at MLB has been health issues with Thomas. If he can stay healthy, we are fine in the middle.
    I'd really like to back you on this but let me quote your buddy first:


    Quote Originally Posted by sMartz
    Defensively, I was pleased with the effort. We overran some things, which resulted into [sic] some big plays, which is good because you can fix that.
    RBs cutting back against the grain/flow/misdirection ate up the Rams D in the latter part of last year - if not all year. sMartz falls back on his ever-optimistic belief that we "can fix that." Well, maybe, but I contend that the fix has to come from the LBing corps. The D-line unquestioningly has a role to play.

    But over-pursuing LBs that were brain-washed into thinking that speed was the only answer, who aren't exerting enough brute force to throw blockers back into a running lane, will not stop anyone's ground game.

    Now if Thomas and Pisa are bringing a different approach to the game from Vitt then maybe it will be fixed. But I still maintain that the LBing corps needs at least one established force to disrupt O game plans. Given that Thomas is in his 2nd year at MLB and Pisa is in his 2nd year, perhaps this year will be when they truly emerge as bone-crushers.

    Which leads me back to wondering if it really was necessary to release Shanle last year ... he seemed like a raw force who just needed some tutelage ...

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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    You know, I'm glad you call him sMartz because he is one the smartest coaches in the NFL.

    Good job adarian. Great job. Glad you like Martz as much if not more than I do.

    Alright adarian.

  8. #8
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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    You know, I'm glad you call him sMartz because he is one the smartest coaches in the NFL.

    Good job adarian. Great job. Glad you like Martz as much if not more than I do.

    Alright adarian.

    Now I talk football and you want to thank me for pointing out how much of what sMartz has done smarts so bad that I am still smarting over the Carolina loss?

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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    absolutely adarian. Ok, even someone as smart as Martz makes mistakes. You seem intelligent, do you make perfect judgement calls everytime?

    Yes, the Rams do overpursue against the run. Thomas had a solid game when he played though. The D line overpursued against the run also. The Rams have time to correct this before the opener. If this tactic is still being employed in the regular season, I'll be upset also.

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    Well, since this is concerning Robert Thomas, let me quote Martz as well:
    (On LB Robert Thomas’s performance)
    “I think that the leadership on the field, the calls, and just taking charge of the entire defense to begin with, before the ball is even snapped. Everything was impeccable, there wasn’t any wasted motion. He tried to do everything exactly the way Joe’s (Vitt) coached him to do it. Once the ball is committed he’s there, great coverage. I think his was probably the best performance of the entire team.”

  11. #11
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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    I'll be very surprised if Polley's not the starter on opening day.

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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    As will I, Avenger. As tex said, I'm hoping this is just a wake up call for him to really get in gear.
    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Two
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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    do you make perfect judgement calls everytime?
    Only when I'm stoned ...

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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    Only when I'm stoned
    He he he ....... :confused:
    Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster

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    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    a) Tommy Polley is a good LB that will likely improve this season -- I say he remains a starter. He's a proven defender, good instinct against the pass.

    b) Hey, I too like/respect Coach Martz; have done so since he was our OC in 99. I was very upset with him about the Warner bench / saga and all that, but I fully trust MM's madness and feel that this is THE year for him.

    c) What is the status -- or the word -- on LB T. Faulk?

    d) Will Pisa be ready for opener game?

    e) Good to read into ClanRam!

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