Turner adapts to his new role on defense
By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
Rams rookie Larry Turner is a center by trade. But with the defensive line short on bodies following Tyoka Jackon's hamstring injury, Turner has become a double threat.
He saw action on the team's goal-line defense at tackle Monday night against Tampa Bay.
"I was in there for like three or four plays," said Turner, a seventh-round draft pick from Eastern Kentucky. "Coach (Bill) Kollar said I did my job. He said all I'm supposed to do is get on all fours, and just root on through there and create a pile. That's what I did."
Kollar is the Rams' defensive line coach. Turner didn't find out until the Friday before the Tampa Bay game that he was going to play defense for the first time since his days at Wayne High in Huber Heights, Ohio.
"It was fun," Turner said. "It was really exhilarating just to hear the fans, so I got pumped."
With Jackson out again this week, Turner could be in for more goal-line duty Sunday in Miami.
After missing two contests because of a sprained knee, offensive guard Chris Dishman quietly made his return to game action Monday night against Tampa Bay.
It was easy enough to miss Dishman's return. Other than duty on the field goal and extra point unit, he was in the game for only one play - the goal-line blocking unit for Marshall Faulk's 100th NFL rushing touchdown. Dishman started the Rams' first three games at left guard, but was replaced by Scott Tercero after the injury. Tercero has played well enough to keep the job even though Dishman is now healthy.
"It was definitely good to be back in uniform," Dishman said. "Right now, Scotty's playing such good ball. It's one of those things. Coaches are superstitious and players are, too. So, if something's rolling right, you just keep going with it, I guess."
Tercero remains the starter, but Dishman shared repetitions with him Friday with the first unit at practice.
It's a long way from Southern Oregon to the NFL, and for Dusty McGrorty the trip took an unexpected turn during Thursday's practice at Rams Park.
"Coach (Mike) Martz just came up to me in practice and said, 'Make sure you're paying attention to our offense. We'll try to maybe get you in on some reps in practice. We're going to bring you up this week.'"
That's how McGrorty, an undrafted rookie, found out he was being promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
"That got me a little fired up," he said. "I got in my playbook a little more (Thursday) night."
McGrorty isn't sure if he'll even suit up for the Miami game. But with Arlen Harris not expected to play because of a hamstring injury, he might have to dress as the third running back behind Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson. Eventually McGrorty could help on special teams, although he hasn't gotten much work there in practice as a member of the practice squad.
"He's practiced so well," Martz said. "He's a terrific ball carrier. And he can play both positions - fullback and halfback."
The promotion comes with a nice pay raise. As a practice squad player, McGrorty was earning a little over $4,300 a week during the regular season. He gets more than $13,500 a week as a member of the active roster.
There will be a few Rams fans sprinkled in among the 70,000 or so Dolphins fans Sunday at Pro Player Stadium.
Wide receiver Isaac Bruce, defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, defensive end Anthony Hargrove, cornerback Travis Fisher and newly-signed kicker Jeff Chandler are from Florida.
Bruce, who grew up in nearby Fort Lauderdale, has come up with 60 tickets for family and friends for the game.
Pickett, who grew up in the Tampa area but has many relatives in Fort Lauderdale, needed 34 tickets to take care of his family. Pickett's brother Booker lives right down the street from Pro Player.