By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
MEQUON, WIS. — After four years of playing tackle exclusively at the University of Toledo, John Greco is manning a first-team spot at right guard with the Rams.
It's an interim move until the starter there, Mark Setterstrom, recovers from a slight muscle strain near his right knee. In the meantime, Greco is lapping up the reps.
"It's exciting, but at the same time it's a major learning experience for me," said Greco, a third-round draft pick in April. "I'm just trying to keep my head on straight and do the best I can."
The 6-foot-4, 314-pound Greco played a season at right tackle, followed by three on the left side for the Rockets. He's adjusting to guard gradually.
"I'm taking it one step at a time," he said. "It's a different position, a little bit different footwork, and different responsibilities and assignments. I'm just keeping my head in the playbook and trying to go from there."
The Rams haven't decided whether Greco's future lies at tackle or guard.
"To be determined," coach Scott Linehan said. "So far, he's had a real solid camp. We really (like) his versatility. ... These are good reps, to work with the 'ones.' He's making a few mistakes out there, but he's getting better every practice."
Noted Greco, "Playing a couple of different positions creates value. So I try to do what I can with what's asked of me."
Lining up alongside such veterans as tackle Orlando Pace, a seven-time Pro Bowler, can be daunting. Greco said he got over his nerves at the spring minicamp, though.
"It was shocking at first," he said. "But now, they just treat me like a rookie. I'm just one of the guys."
A guy with an unexpected opportunity to run with the big dogs, for a while anyway.
Setterstrom, who experienced numbness in his lower leg prior to Tuesday afternoon's practice, should be back in a day or two. "I'll be fine," Setterstrom said as he watched Wednesday morning's workout from the sideline. "As soon as they get the swelling down, I'll be back out here."
Wide receiver Drew Bennett (knee), cornerback David Macklin (hamstring), tight end Joe Klopfenstein (back), cornerback Tye Hill (thigh), center Brett Romberg (hand) and linebacker Vince Hall (hamstring) are the latest casualties.
Of the 80 players on the camp roster, only 68 were healthy enough to practice Wednesday afternoon. Still, none of the injuries is serious enough to extend to the start of the regular season.
"This is the toughest week of training camp; always is," Linehan said. "And we've got some fatigue injuries. But they'll be temporary; that's a positive. By the time we get into next week, all these guys that are out will start coming back."
There was no contact Wednesday between Eugene Parker, running back Steven Jackson's agent, and the Rams.
— Days out: 6
— Practices missed: 9
— Fine total: $90,000
ON THE BALL
Rookie Lance Ball, an undrafted running back, is getting more work than expected while Jackson stays away. According to Linehan, the 5-foot-9, 232-pound bruiser from the University of Maryland is turning a few heads.
"He's a really good runner, very productive in college," Linehan said. "We felt we needed to get an extra guy that was productive at that position and when he came in, he was immediately the right kind of guy. So, we're happy to have him."