By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Saturday, Aug. 28 2004

Group recovers against Washington after a difficult outing Monday in loss at
Kansas City.

If the Rams' Scott Tercero never reads or hears the term "patchwork offensive
line" again, he'll be a happy man.

"I don't think they should use that," said Tercero, who has been playing right
tackle with the first unit. "Everyone's tired of hearing 'patchwork offensive
line.' Yeah, we have a couple of young guys playing, but with time, experience
comes. And I think we're doing really well."

It was hard to argue with Tercero after the Rams' 28-3 preseason victory over
the Washington Redskins on Friday night at Edward Jones Dome. The Rams'
offense, which totaled only 584 yards and mustered just 17 points in the first
two exhibition games combined, broke out for 435 yards against the 'Skins.

Perhaps as significant, the line kept quarterbacks Marc Bulger, Chris Chandler
and Jeff Smoker out of harm's way, for the most part. The Redskins recorded one
sack just four days after the Kansas City Chiefs dropped Rams QBs four times.

"If you look across the board, there's nothing to be embarrassed about; those
(offensive linemen) are a good group," Bulger said. "I don't know of any group
that can just come together in a week and play great, especially against the
package of blitzes that Kansas City had. They've had a little more time
together, and they're going to be fine."

With first-team tackles Orlando Pace (contract dispute) and Kyle Turley (back
injury) out and incumbent center Dave Wohlabaugh (hip injury) released, the
only remaining starters on the line are guard Adam Timmerman and center Andy
McCollum, who played left guard last season.

Plugging the holes have been Tercero, tackles Grant Williams and Greg Randall,
and guards Chris Dishman and Andy King. Randall and Dishman were signed as free
agents after training camp began, and guard Tom Nutten, a Rams starter for four
years, was summoned out of a one-year retirement a week ago.

Dishman, an eight-year veteran who has been starting at left guard, carried a
heavy load Friday because Nutten suffered a toe injury in the first half.
Dishman, who has shed 20 pounds but still weighs 354, said the extra work was
beneficial.

"It was good to see where I was at to (prepare to) play a full game; I felt
pretty good," said Dishman, who also had retired before the Rams called. "There
were a couple of long drives and my conditioning was better than what I thought
it would be. Not as good as I'd like it to be, but it'll get there."

So will the line as a whole, Tercero emphasized. "I think we played really
well" vs. the 'Skins, he said. "We put up a lot of numbers in the first half
with the first line. We had good pass protection for the most part, and we ran
the ball pretty decently. It was a game that we really needed."

Now they need No. 76 to walk through the doors at Rams Park: The arrival of
Pace, a perennial Pro Bowler, is expected soon. "He's a great player, and he'll
only boost the performance of our offensive line," Tercero said. "Whenever he
comes back, that's obviously going to be a bonus for us."

With a laugh, Bulger said, "We won't mind that." Then he added, "But in the
long run, getting all these guys some experience, it's going to pay dividends
in the future