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  1. #1
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    Rams must plan game with Pace sidelined

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/21/2006


    In a sold-out stadium of more than 67,000 fans, and with 22 football players grunting and groaning on the field, Dane Looker could hear the sound clear as day.

    The sound of Orlando Pace's head slamming onto the turf at Monster Park.

    "His head hit hard," Looker said. "It made a loud, loud sound when it hit the ground."

    Looker was holding for the extra point from Jeff Wilkins following a Rams touchdown late in the second quarter of Sunday's 20-13 loss to the *****. Pace was lined up on the right side of the extra point formation as a blocker. The ***** had no less than eight players shifted over to that side of center, trying to block the kick. At least three of those eight plowed directly into Pace, knocking him backward to the turf.




    "They overloaded that side, and I saw him fall down," Looker said. "It's a long way to fall when you're the Big O."

    A couple of minutes later, Looker saw Pace on the sideline with a wet towel around his neck.

    "He looked like he had a pretty good headache," Looker said. "He didn't look like he really knew where he was at that point."

    Originally unaware of any injury, backup offensive lineman Adam Goldberg noticed the same thing moments later on the sidelines.

    "I was actually surprised," Goldberg said. "We were going over the Polaroid (photos) of the previous drive, and he had this glazed look in his eyes."

    Pace's concussion ended his day with 2 minutes 16 seconds to go in the first half against San Francisco. As a result, the Rams finished the game with an offensive line that featured Todd Steussie at Pace's left tackle spot, and Goldberg at left guard. Already, the Rams were using Richie Incognito at center because of Andy McCollum's season-ending knee injury in Week 1 against Denver.



    "Obviously, any time you lose your Pro Bowl left tackle, it's going to be a big shock to the system," Goldberg said. "But I think we did a good job of rallying and rolling with the punches."

    But not before yielding four second-half sacks and struggling offensively against the *****. At times, the Rams looked befuddled handling the *****' blitzes, with at least a couple of the sacks coming on basic protection breakdowns.

    With Pace officially listed as doubtful for this week's game at Arizona, the Rams are likely to start Steussie at left tackle and Goldberg at left guard.

    "Those two guys ... have actually played a lot more football in the National Football League than Richie," coach Scott Linehan said. "Any time you have to reshuffle things it's not easy. But these guys are pros, and having a week to prepare will certainly give us a better chance to have more success."

    Pace was a spectator Wednesday, watching practice in sweats. He was not made available to reporters. Linehan said Pace also would sit out today's practice and take a "psych" test to determine whether his status should be upgraded.

    "If he could get something done (in practice) Friday, that would make us feel better," Linehan said. "But I'm more concerned -- as we all are -- with (whether) he is 100 percent. The 'playing' right now is secondary to making sure he's OK."

    Pace told Linehan on Wednesday that he felt a lot better. But Linehan added, "I think he's still feeling it a little bit."

    Compounding matters this Sunday is the fact that Arizona uses myriad defensive fronts, blitzes, and looks under coordinator Clancy Pendergast. Last week against Seattle, the Big Red lined up in 3-man, 4-man, and even 5-man fronts. Hard-hitting strong safety Adrian Wilson began the game at the line of scrimmage, lining up at end and outside linebacker a few times.

    The idea was to control running back Shaun Alexander, particularly on cutback runs, and to make quarterback Tim Hasselbeck uncomfortable.

    "We knew playing Arizona that it would be a little crazy," Hasselbeck told reporters after the game. "They're going to throw some crazy looks at you that you've never seen, and you have to weather the storm."

    Playing in the new -- and sold out -- Cardinals Stadium, the Rams will try to limit storm damage with backups starting at left guard (Goldberg) and left tackle (Steussie) if Pace doesn't play. And with a center (Incognito) playing only his second game at the position since his second year of college.

    So Linehan fully expects Pendergast to reach deep into his bag of tricks for schemes to throw off Rams blockers.

    "We've got to prepare, like we do each week, for all the twists that we could get," Linehan said. "I think they're certainly going to test us there."

    That would be true even if the Rams handled the blitz well in San Francisco. But they didn't. The Cardinals -- and the rest of the Rams' 2006 opponents -- undoubtedly took notice.

    "So if you have a problem in a given week, they're going to at least test you on those things that you have problems with," Steussie said.


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams must plan game with Pace sidelined

    Not good...Hopefully it's just one week he misses...our weak line just got weaker. We badly need these guys to step it up. Time to earn that paycheck boys. If things go as badly as they did in the niners game, I'm hoping to see some shotgun formations, 2 back sets, 2 TE sets, shorter reciever routes, and a lot more running to try to compensate for the lack of protection.

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams must plan game with Pace sidelined

    At least three of those eight plowed directly into Pace, knocking him backward to the turf.
    Seems to me that the next meeting will be payback time.
    "He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morg!"
    Sean Connery- The Untouchables
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams must plan game with Pace sidelined

    I just hope he will be O.K. and he's back playing soon , feels good to being back home again ... Thanks for all your thoughts everyone ...

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams must plan game with Pace sidelined

    Good to see you back, ORF.

    Maybe we should just bite the bullett ("just") and keep OPace out this week to allow him better chances to recuperate. And as RFTID said,
    We badly need these guys to step it up. Time to earn that paycheck boys.
    Take it easy, Big O. :r

    LET'S GET IT ON! GO RAMS!

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