Monday, August 2, 2004
By NICK WAGONER
After a few days of harm-free football, the injury bug bit St. Louis for the first time on Saturday.
Tackle Kyle Turley, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy and safety Rich Coady missed both workouts with back spasms. Linebacker Tommy Polley sprained his right big toe and tight end Cam Cleeland battled a slight hamstring strain.
Coach Mike Martz said he didn’t expect any of his players to miss an extended period of time.
“The injury list, unless it’s a real serious injury, I just don’t pay a heck of a lot of attention to it,” Martz said. “Whoever shows up out here, we are going to have practice.”
Offensive lineman Ryan Schau missed practice again with a back sprain. Cornerback Robert Cromartie watched again from the sidelines because of continued hamstring problems.
LENDING A HAND: Rookie running back Steven Jackson showed the crowd why the Rams’ thought so highly of him in April’s draft. One play after Jackson made a darting, 25-yard burst off right tackle, he made a one-handed catch along the right sideline.
In the afternoon practice, Jackson did it again.
Martz said that is the kind of thing he expects from his running backs.
“That was the big thing about Steven when he came out of college was that he was a complete back,” Martz said. “He certainly has done everything to prove that so far.”
FIGHTIN’ WORDS: Apparently, one afternoon practice off is all the Rams needed to take the intensity to another level. With each passing practice, something has happened to bring the competition to a new height.
Saturday was no exception as the morning practice featured the first true fight of camp. About halfway through the workout, fullback Chris Massey met linebacker Tony Newson in a block. After some small shoving and basic blocking, Massey shoved Newson backward.
Newson came back with a right cross and the fists began to fly. After some swinging by both pugilists, Massey decided to end the fight. He bullrushed Newson and slammed him to the ground as teammates separated them.
WISH GRANTED: Offensive tackle Grant Williams has taken back his role as the Rams’ starting training camp tackle. With Orlando Pace not in camp, Williams has once again played nearly every down at left tackle with the first team.
Williams, a 10th year player out of Louisiana Tech, has impressed Martz.
“Grant, right now, this is the best he has looked since he’s been here,” Martz said. “I can’t tell you how fortunate we are to have him.”
By NICK WAGONER
Two days removed from what was described as atrophy in his leg, offensive tackle Kyle Turley left camp Sunday afternoon with pain in his back. The Rams coaching staff limited Turley’s work Saturday with what were then called back spasms.
Turley suffered from similar pain toward the end of the 2003 season, but seemed to be fine as camp opened. He participated in nearly every drill in the first three days of camp, but the pain started to kick in Friday. Turley spent Sunday morning riding an exercise bike and observing drills. He said he would return to St. Louis on Sunday afternoon to have his back examined further by doctors on Monday.
He also mentioned a possible trip to Los Angeles to meet with a back specialist and told the Associated Press that the injury might have career implications.
Head coach Mike Martz said it is too early to make any judgments on Turley’s situation.
“Who knows?” Martz said. “I think anytime a player as competitive as Kyle… you know he is very, very frustrated to have an injury like this. Whenever a player has this kind of injury and he can’t go, they get a little depressed and down in the dumps. So, obviously a lot of those things come across your mind.”
Scott Tercero took many of the repetitions in Turley’s place, but Martz said there is a chance the Rams could bring in more linemen to play and compete in case Turley isn’t ready for the start of the season.
BUMPS AND BRUISES FILE: Turley wasn’t the only Ram dealing with injuries. Martz described the other problems as nicks that are common problems. Cornerbacks Travis Fisher and Jerametrius Butler sat out the afternoon workout. Fisher sprained his ankle in the morning workout and Butler sat out for precautionary reasons.
Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (back spasms) and linebacker Tommy Polley (toe sprain) returned to practice after missing Saturday’s workouts. Cornerback Robert Cromartie continued to sit out because of hamstring problems and Ryan Schau missed practice again with a back sprain.
“Usually in days five, six and seven (in training camp) is when we sustain a lot of injuries,” Martz said. “That is the red-hot time. That’s why we were in shells out there both practices today.”
St. Louis is set for one workout Monday morning, where it will resume full pads. The light schedule is consistent with the Rams’ new “third day rest” plan that they adopted from Olympic training.
WORKOUT WONDERS: Receiver Kevin Curtis and safety Justin Lucas stood out Sunday with solid play in both practices. Curtis had a strong morning performance, running precise routes and catching a trio of touchdown passes in traffic. Lucas made an acrobatic interception and returned it for a touchdown in the same practice.