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Rams Notebook: Turner accepts news of return to bench role
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Knocking the fizz out of the perpetually effervescent Larry Turner is no easy task. Even when Rams coach Scott Linehan told him this week that he might be bumped back to his reserve role at center, Turner responded with a nod and a smile.
"It's business; that's just how it is," Turner said. "I understand. You take it with a grain of salt and, hey, just roll with the punches."
Turner, who had seen scant action on offense in his previous two seasons, played the last 2½ quarters of Sunday's 18-10 victory over Denver after Andy McCollum suffered a season-ending knee injury. Turner gave up one sack, but otherwise graded out well, Linehan said.
Still, it looks as if Richie Incognito will slide to center from left guard Sunday in San Francisco. Incognito worked extensively with the first unit at practice again Thursday, continuing a crash course to familiarize himself with the position.
Incognito hasn't played center in a game since his freshman year at Nebraska, although he manned the spot almost exclusively at the first of the Rams' minicamps.
Turner and newcomer Brett Romberg also got some time with the "ones" Thursday, but mostly as insurance, it appears, in case Incognito needs more preparation than expected.
"We're just going to evaluate what's the best thing to do this week," Linehan said. "Certainly, our plan would be, as we go on, that it makes sense for Richie to move in there."
So Turner probably will return to the bench. Happily, he insisted. "I'm not disappointed," he said. "I accept my role, any way it is. We're 1-0 right now, so whatever I can do help us to be 2-0, maybe 3-0 and on down the line, I'm ready to do."
Something to prove
After two productive seasons with the *****, tight end Aaron Walker figured that he had found a home in San Francisco. Walker, a fifth-round draft choice from Florida in 2003, played in all 32 games during his first two NFL seasons, including six starts. He caught 18 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown.
But Walker was cut just before the start of the 2005 season. "As a professional, you always want to play in one place all the time," he said. "But that's just part of the game."
Walker, 6-feet-6 and 270 pounds, had a strong training camp here and beat out rookie Dominique Byrd, a third-round draftee, for the No. 2 spot behind Joe Klopfenstein. Walker, who got in for about two dozen plays in the opener, relishes making a statement on ***** turf.
"Oh, definitely," he said. "Any time that you come from a team where you thought you'd done the job and obviously they thought different, you want to go back and show them. ... There's always a little animosity."
Linehan praises crowd
The only time Linehan was in the Edward Jones Dome previously for a regular-season game was in 2003. He was Minnesota's offensive coordinator, and the home fans had plenty to hoot and holler about as the Rams smothered the Vikings 48-17 en route to the NFC West title.
Linehan was in the coaches' booth then. This past Sunday, he was on the sideline, and the din produced by the 65,577 in the stands during the 18-10 win over Denver flabbergasted him.
"That was the highlight of my time here so far, the first home game in the Dome and listening to our crowd," he said." Our crowd was 10 times better than I remembered. ... It was so electrifying. I had chills up my spine the whole game. And I know it elevated our play."
Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (hand) and linebackers Pisa Tinoisamoa (foot) and Jamal Brooks (knee) remained questionable on Thursday's injury report, although all three practiced. ... Upon further review, the Elias Sports Bureau has given end Anthony Hargrove and tackle La'Roi Glover a half-sack each for their third-quarter takedown of Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer on Sunday. Originally, Hargrove received full credit. ... The Rams haven't been 2-0 since 2001, when they started 6-0 en route to the Super Bowl.