Thursday, August 12, 2004

By Nick Wagoner
Staff Writer

No, Rams’ coach Mike Martz didn’t have his days mixed up. With their first preseason game only a day away, the Rams wrapped up a relatively light week of practice the day following what was probably their toughest workout.

Coach Mike Martz said Tuesday’s practice was the equivalent of a regular season Wednesday practice. The practice lasted nearly three hours, with St. Louis working hard every step of the way.

“We’re trying to teach our guys about a regular, in-season Wednesday practice and these are always chaotic because guys don’t understand the scout teams, the changing of getting in and out of the huddle, the speed, the focus, all that kind of stuff,” Martz said. “We’re trying to get them ready for Thursday night. In these Wednesday practices before the first game, (we) attempt to teach all these new guys about game preparation and bring them along the best we can, so it was okay.”

Wednesday’s actual practice was slightly more reserved, lasting a little more than two hours. Now, the Rams turn their attention to Thursday night’s preseason game against Chicago. Kickoff is slated for 7:05 p.m. at the Edward Jones Dome.

The Rams will not practice Friday and Saturday and returns to Macomb for practice to begin Sunday. There will be a week of practice next week before camp breaks after a morning workout Friday.

Martz said his team is ready to get in some real game action after a tough pair of weeks of training camp.
“I’d like to see one step further than we were a week ago in terms of the crispness of it,” Martz said. “I’d like to win every one of them. In the middle of the game, I’m not thinking that this is preseason.”

PT FOR THE ‘ONES’: Martz won’t predict how long his starters or any of his team will play, but did say he expects starting quarterback Marc Bulger to play.

The starters probably won’t play much more than a series or two for fear of injuries. Martz said he chooses not to discuss how much playing time anyone will receive. Martz said Wednesday that running back Marshall Faulk will not participate.

TURLEY TALES: The Rams medical staff heard from offensive tackle Kyle Turley’s agent earlier this week, but there were no updates on Turley’s condition.

Turley left camp in the early stages with problems with a bulging disc in his back. Turley had offseason surgery on his back and tweaked it in the opening days of practice. He has since returned to St. Louis to visit with back specialists, traveled to Los Angeles to see another specialist and Atlanta to see a third doctor.

Martz said he doesn’t yet know the extent of the injury, but he does know that Turley is upset by the turn of events. Martz said he will have some discussions this weekend about results of Turley’s back reviews and hopes to have some results by the end of the weekend.

“He’s very frustrated,” Martz said. “I understand what Kyle’s going through, I feel for the guy. As soon as we can get some sort of answer to his medical situation, I’m sure we can move forward with it.” Center Dave Wohlabaugh is in a similar situation. Martz said he had received word on how Wohlabaugh’s hip tested, but won’t know the details until the weekend.

O-LINE WOES: The injuries along the offensive line have put the Rams in a precarious position heading into Thursday night. Martz said the team might have only six or seven linemen available for the game. Adam Timmerman might not play because of shoulder soreness and Chris Dishman is battling back spasms. “I’m really concerned about our offensive line,” Martz said. “We are down to the last few standing.”

INJURY UPDATE: The Rams managed to make it through the week of practices in slightly better shape on the injury front than they had after the scrimmage against the Bears on Saturday. The team hit its low, injury-wise, when end Bryce Fisher left the scrimmage with a sprained ankle.

In the time since, a number of players have returned to practice, including starters Robert Thomas and Leonard Little.
Watching Wednesday’s practice with injuries were players who have missed most of camp with injuries. CB Robert Cromartie and TE Cameron Cleeland missed practice again with hamstring problems. Rookie TE Erik Jensen continued to struggle with knee problems. Martz said this past week that Jensen would probably miss 10 days to two weeks, putting Jensen back in practice as early as next week.

ROSTER MOVE: To make room for guard Jason Lenzmeier, who practiced for the first time Tuesday, the Rams released wide receiver Kelvin Kight. Kight was an undrafted free agent out of Florida. Lenzmeier is the third offensive lineman to sign with the Rams since they moved to Macomb for training camp. Greg Randall and Chris Dishman signed earlier in camp after injuries struck the line.