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Thread: Where's Pace-SI
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Now that the curtain has fallen on right tackle Kyle Turley's season before it even began, Grant Williams and the rest of the St. Louis Rams' offensive line could find solace Monday in at least one thing: One huge distraction down, one more to go.
In a preseason that has resembled a soap opera in terms of the Rams' blockers, the nagging question now is when, and if, five-time All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace will end his holdout, perhaps even in time for the Rams' preseason finale Thursday at Oakland.
"Just from a team standpoint, it'd be nice to get what looks like would be the starting five out there for a quarter or a half against Oakland, just get some time together as a unit before we go into the season," Williams said Monday, two days after the Rams placed Turley on injured reserve because of his ailing back.
Turley, among the NFL's steadiest linemen throughout his six seasons, started every game in 2003 after joining the Rams in an offseason trade with New Orleans.
But when he reinjured his surgically repaired back in late July and left training camp Aug. 1 to visit doctors, coach Mike Martz _ already dealing with the no-show Pace -- had to piece together an offensive line, even luring veterans Chris Dishman and Tom Nutten out of retirement.
Martz waited for word from Turley on the prognosis about his back. Then on Saturday -- a day after the Rams' offensive line held the Washington Redskins at bay in a 28-3 preseason victory -- Martz finally declared Turley's season was history.
"I talked to Kyle today, and he was very vague about his plans," Martz said. When quizzed about the significance of losing Turley, he added without elaborating: "I'm happy with the guys we have."
Turley's agent, Tom Condon, did not return telephone messages left Monday. Messages also were left with Pace's agent, Carl Poston.
So it goes in what a Rams staffer quipped Monday was the latest in "As the World Turns," with Williams -- a nine-year veteran filling in for Pace -- perhaps playing Turley's role if Pace agrees to a one-year tender offer as the team's designated franchise player and returns.
"It'll be nice when he reports," said Dishman, a 350-pound guard nursing a right ankle he rolled in the first quarter against the Redskins, though he went on to play the entire game. "It'd be nice to get some work in with him. But his thing is his thing, and when he comes in he comes in."
Williams' advice to Pace: Get back sooner rather than later, certainly before the Rams' Sept. 12 opener at home against Arizona.
"I know if I was in that situation I would want to play in the last preseason game and get ready for the season," Williams said, convinced Pace would benefit from getting some reps -- and perhaps more importantly, some conditioning -- against Oakland.
Beyond that, Williams said, the value of "Big O" to the team is immeasurable.
"You can't ask more for an offense to have a solid left tackle," Williams said, willing to shift positions if it meant Pace was back. "That's all you can do is work hard and see what happens. If you get an injury, that's part of the deal. Or if an All-Pro tackle comes in and you can't play, that's part of the deal, too.
"But you have to be glad from a team standpoint that you have an All-Pro tackle."
Martz has said that with or without Pace, he expects the line to be solid by the time Arizona comes to town.
Regardless, Scott Tercero wouldn't mind not ever hearing or reading one phrase again.
"Everyone's tired of hearing 'patchwork offensive line,"' Tercero, a sixth-round pick last year who has been playing right tackle, said after Friday's victory. "Yeah, we have a couple of young guys playing, but with time, experience comes. And I think we're doing really well."
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