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    Exclamation Rams suffering from injuries, departures

    Rams suffering from injuries, departures


    By Len Pasquarelli
    ESPN.com

    When the St. Louis offensive line hunkers into its collective three-point stance for the initial snap of Sunday's regular-season opener against Arizona, it will mark the first time the Rams' starting-unit quintet has worked together in a game since … well, since forever.



    The holdout of "franchise" left tackle Orlando Pace, a potential career-ending back injury to right tackle Kyle Turley that landed him on injured reserve, and the release of center Dave Wohlabaugh because of surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, kept three 2003 starters out for most of camp and eventually eliminated two of them entirely for this year.



    There have been less-severe injuries as well, and reevaluations that dictated even more shuffling, and the Rams either signed or claimed on waivers six different reinforcements during camp. One of them, former Cardinals blocker Chris Dishman, who was all but ignored as an unrestricted free agent in the spring until the Rams dispatched an SOS, will start at left guard on Sunday afternoon.



    Tom Nutten, lured out of retirement two weeks ago, just one day before he was scheduled to leave for Germany where he was going to conduct some youth football camps, is a key backup. The No. 3 tackle is Greg Randall, signed by St. Louis after he was jettisoned by two other teams this spring. Second-year veteran Scott Tercero, who didn't play a single snap as a rookie in 2003 but lined up at three different positions in camp, suddenly is now a non-expendable reserve.



    One can pretty much forgive the St. Louis offensive linemen if, in the huddle on Sunday, they glance around and feel as if they are in the company of strangers. Just two players from the 2003 starting lineup, Pace and right guard Adam Timmerman, are in the same spots as a year ago. The release of Wohlabaugh forced Andy McCollum, the starting left guard last season, to switch to center for this year.



    "From one day to the next, in camp, you never really knew who was (lining up) where," said veteran Grant Williams, who spent most of the preseason at left tackle, but will now switch to the right side, since Pace has signed his one-year qualifying tender and reported for duty. "It was almost like picking names out of a hat sometimes. But you know what, look around the league, OK? Maybe there weren't teams that had it like we did, but there are a lot (of teams) where the offensive lines weren't very settled."



    Point taken. Around the league, offensive line units are in flux, and that could leave a lot of coaches in a bind. And some quarterbacks, perhaps, in traction.





    GordonHe might not have the résumé of Chicago Bears veteran Anthony Thomas, the tailback the Dolphins most coveted over the past couple weeks, but most league personnel people feel Lamar Gordon was a very nice addition for running back-needy Miami. Desperate for a back to replace Ricky Williams, the Dolphins sent the St. Louis Rams a third-round pick in the 2005 draft for Gordon, a solid, young runner. One scout's assessment: "Runs a little high, but has power and is quicker than you think, and will make some big plays for you if you keep giving him the ball. I actually thought the Dolphins got him for a pretty decent price. Let's face it, everybody knew the pickle Miami was in, and they all kept raising the ante on a trade. And, basically, the Dolphins had an extra (third-round pick) because of the (Adewale Ogunleye) trade with Chicago, so what the heck." The Dolphins also get Gordon for a pretty reasonable price financially, too, since he has two seasons remaining on his original NFL contract at minimum salaries of $380,000 for 2004 and $455,000 for 2005. That's a lot less than they were paying Williams, from whom Miami is still trying to elicit an $8 million payback for breach of contract. The Bears' Thomas is entering the final year of his contract, with a salary of $514,500, and so Miami would have had to extend his deal, or run the risk of losing him in free agency next spring.



  2. #2
    AvengerRam's Avatar
    AvengerRam is offline Moderator Emeritus
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    Re: Rams suffering from injuries, departures

    Am I the only one who is tired of reading these superficial analyses of the Rams?

  3. #3
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    HUbison is offline Superbowl MVP
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    Re: Rams suffering from injuries, departures

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam
    Am I the only one who is tired of reading these superficial analyses of the Rams?
    Here, here.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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