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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Turley, Pace leave holes in Rams line

    Turley, Pace leave holes in Rams line
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    MACOMB, Ill. - Little more than a month remains before the Rams' regular-season opener, against Arizona. And what arguably is the NFL's best offensive tackle tandem remains nowhere in sight.

    Nothing has changed on the Orlando Pace front. The team's franchise player has yet to sign his one-year, $7 million tender - the first step towards any long-term contract, much less a Pace appearance on the practice field.

    But some clarity is coming soon on the Kyle Turley front. The Rams expect to see the report from Dr. Robert Watkins, the nationally-known back specialist from Los Angeles, in the next day or two. That report should shed light on the severity of Turley's back injury, and help define when he might return.

    Turley has a slight herniation of a disc in his lower back - in the same disc on which he had surgery in March. After aggravating the back early in training camp, Turley left Macomb on Aug. 1 - and hasn't been back since. He has seen a doctor in St. Louis, and Watkins in Los Angeles for further evaluation. But contrary to earlier reports, Turley will not see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Andrews, however, will receive a copy of Watkins' findings for review.

    When Turley last spoke with reporters before leaving Macomb, he called the latest setback career-threatening, and also indicated that he would be unwilling to have any further surgery.

    There have been rumors, so far unconfirmed, that Turley has told close friends that he will sit out the season. Neither Turley nor Turley agent's - Tom Condon - could be reached by the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday.

    When asked Monday if he was optimistic about Turley's return this season, coach Mike Martz said: "I don't know. I don't know what to think because we don't have all the facts from the doctors."

    Some of Turley's teammates are bracing for the worst.

    "I don't think Kyle, even best-case scenario, is going to be back for a while," offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "With the bulging disc story, I'd be surprised if he's back this year. But I haven't heard an official word."

    Quarterback Marc Bulger said he experienced some back problems early in his college career, so he has an inkling of what Turley must be going through.

    "Those things take time, and they're confusing," Bulger said. "When you're dealing with a back, you never know what to expect."

    Meanwhile, the Pace contract impasse remains stuck in neutral. With each day that passes in training camp, his situation is looking more and more like a sequel to 2003, when Pace skipped all of training camp, then signed his franchise tender in time to play in the final exhibition game.

    President of football operations Jay Zygmunt confirmed Tuesday that the Rams have had no contact with Pace or his agent - Carl Poston - since a negotiating blackout period ended in mid July.

    From the Rams' standpoint, any chance for a long-term contract for Pace hinges on him signing the one-year tender. Without that happening, the Rams risk losing the right to use the franchise designation on any player over the length of any long-term contract with Pace under terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

    "As long as he comes in at a point where he knows he's going to be ready to play, I don't think it's a huge deal," Timmerman said. "In fact, giving a couple (other) guys some more reps at practice isn't a terrible thing, as long as they're just not getting killed."

    But Pace's absence, coupled with several injuries, has left the Rams with less than 10 healthy offensive linemen the past couple of days at practice. As a result, the Rams haven't had enough healthy bodies to field a full first- and second-team line. Given the injuries, wouldn't Martz like to see Pace on the practice field as soon as possible?

    "Yeah absolutely," Martz said. "But there's not a whole lot I can do about that."

    There are some in Rams camp who feel Pace's absence has less to do with economics than the simple fact that he doesn't care for training camp in Macomb.

    "I think we all expect him to come back like he did last year," Bulger said. "As long as we get him back for that first week, I don't think anyone's going to be worried. I think this is one of those situations where he has to do what he has to do."

  2. #2
    DJRamFan Guest

    Re: Turley, Pace leave holes in Rams line

    With Bulger the full time QB on Opening Day and a rookie RB, the line makes me very nervous, especially at the bookends.

  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
    AvengerRam is online now Moderator Emeritus
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    May 2004
    Longwood, Florida, United States
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    Re: Turley, Pace leave holes in Rams line

    If Orlando Pace is still holding out by opening day, I'll change my sig pic to a picture of Jabba the Hut.

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