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Thread: Rams Rallying Around Martz
Rams Rallying Around Martz
Wednesday, October 5, 2005
By Nick Wagoner
With their head coach spending his mornings and not much else at the team’s training facility; the Rams are doing their best to go about business as usual.
The players are watching tape and practicing, the coaches are game planning and everything is as it seems except for the one big missing piece at the top. That isn’t to say the team doesn’t miss Mike Martz, though.
If anything, the Rams are going above and beyond to make sure they do right by their coach while he is missing in action. There has been extra attention to detail and the practices have been sharper according to assistant head coach Joe Vitt.
“We have such great respect for Mike and Mike has been so good for us and good to us that everybody is going to step it up a little bit and make sure we have his back and do the best we can,” Vitt said.
Martz’s status is unknown as of Thursday afternoon after he released a statement Wednesday saying that he would miss Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practice because of illness.
Martz said at the time that the doctors suspected he has endocarditis, a disease that is an infection of the inner lining of the heart or its valves. Martz spent Thursday afternoon having more tests done.
The results of those tests won’t be known right away, but the illness has not kept Martz from actively participating in the day to day operations of the team. In fact, Martz was at Rams Park on Thursday morning,
Martz went through his normal morning routine, reviewing tape of Wednesday’s practice, Scripting Thursday’s workout, meeting with the offense and going over any corrections from Wednesday’s practice.
“Mike wants to be with the team,” Vitt said. “This is where Mike belongs. It’s killing him. When Mike showed his face this morning our players were elated to see him. There was a sense of calm when they saw his face. We are working through this thing right now. Our players are working their butts off, our coaches are pulling together. These are trying times, but we’ll pass the test.”
Every Ram that spoke about Martz’s condition on Thursday did it with the hope that the coach would be OK. There is no doubt that there was some sense of worry about Martz, but many were happy to see him in the morning, even if it was just briefly.
“It has been a little bit more kind of down around here,” running back Steven Jackson said. “But it’s not down because of work, it’s down because we know our head guy is sick and everybody cares about him. We want to make sure he gets right and as long as he is doing that, we are going to take care of business on the field.”
Because of Martz’s absence there is some obvious concern that the team would tend to lose focus while wondering about his status.
Receiver Torry Holt said that is only natural.
“At times, we are all human and when the boss is not there, the head man is not there, you have a tendency to slip into complacency and get off and do what you want to do,” Holt said. “You look at it as fun and everybody cuts up. It’s like when you are a little kid and class has a substitute teacher all the kids normally have a ball. I know I did when I was little, but coach is doing a good job of facilitating things.”
Although that might be a possibility, it doesn’t seem that there is anything but concern for Martz and focus on this weekend’s task.
“Anytime you have anything dealing with the heart then you have some worryation there and hope that it isn’t that bad,” Holt said. “Anytime you are dealing with the heart, it is a sensitive area so hopefully I am sure the doctors will help him and give him good advice and good medical attention.”
Martz’s status for Friday’s practice remains unknown, as does his status for this weekend, but things will begin to crystallize Friday. For what it’s worth, most of the Rams have little to no doubt that Martz will be ready to go when game time comes.
MAC IN ACTION: Shaun McDonald is an important piece of the Rams’ offense, but with Isaac Bruce out because of a toe injury, McDonald’s value is even greater.
That shined through last week against the Giants when McDonald went for 121 yards on nine catches to lead the team in receiving. It was McDonald’s first 100-yard receiving day and a career high in receptions.
The always humble McDonald said the production was more a product of the team’s depth at the position than anything he did.
“Yeah, I think our wide receiver group is the deepest on the team,” McDonald said. “So I think if someone goes down, we have players who can step in and make plays.”
McDonald wasn’t the only one stepping in and making plays. Dane Looker chipped in with eight catches for 90 yards and made a number of impressive grabs in traffic.
Although McDonald was happy with his performance, it didn’t mean much considering the outcome.
“It is a team sport, so going for 100 [yards] means nothing if we get a loss when we’re trying to get to the playoffs and trying to get home field advantage,” McDonald said.
With Bruce listed as doubtful again this week, it appears McDonald and Looker will get another chance to contribute.
CATCHING THE INJURY BUG: Seattle’s receivers earned a reputation in the past couple years for struggling to catch the ball. The Seahawks led the league in drops last season.
To that end, Seattle brought in some new faces that it hoped would correct the problem. The Seahawks had returning receivers Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram as starters with new faces Joe Jurevicious and Peter Warrick as No. 3 and 4 on the depth chart.
Jackson and Engram got off to solid starts this season with 29 and 27 receptions, respectively. That production will have to be replaced against the Rams as it appears neither Jackson nor Engram will be ready to play because of injury.
Jackson has a bone bruise in his right knee and Engram has cracked ribs. Both are listed as doubtful, meaning there is a 25 percent chance of playing.
But coach Mike Holmgren told the Seattle media Wednesday that neither will play this weekend.
“It’s a little grim,” Holmgren told the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
With Jackson and Engram out, Jurevicious and Warrick will move up in the rotation. Jurevicious has played the Rams before when he was with Tampa Bay and has seven catches so far this season, two for touchdowns. Warrick has just one catch this year after being released by the Bengals.
Although Holmgren has declared the receivers out, cornerback Travis Fisher said the Rams are preparing for the duo to play.
“I’m not really thinking they are going to be out,” Fisher said. “It could be a pump fake, I really don’t care. We are practicing on Engram and Jackson playing the game.”
INJURY REPORT: In addition to Bruce being listed as doubtful, the Rams injury report had no changes Thursday afternoon.
Dexter Coakley (back) is probable with tight end Brandon Manumaleuna (sprained knee) and tackle Rex Tucker (calf) are questionable. Cornerback Chris Johnson, who missed Wednesday’s practice because of illness returned and is no longer on the injury report.
For Seattle, tackle Wayne Hunter (hamstring) is out with Jackson and Engram as doubtful. Defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs (quad) was added Thursday and is probable.
Re: Rams Rallying Around Martz
Then all they have to do is win. Simple.