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TSN Rams Report

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  • TSN Rams Report

    By Jim Thomas

    For the first time since he entered the NFL, QB Marc Bulger spent all of his offseason as the No. 1 guy--which means he has thrown exclusively to the team's top receivers. That should pay dividends; last season, he didn't start until Week 2. Bulger seems more relaxed, but he needs to work on throwing the deep ball and making better decisions.

    RT Kyle Turley (back) and C Dave Wohlabaugh (hip) missed most of the offseason work after having surgery. Both should be at full speed by camp.


    In Turley and LT Orlando Pace, the team has one of the best tackle duos in the league. Wild-man reputation aside, Turley relies more on athleticism, footwork and smarts than brute force. He's better as a pass blocker, though he holds up at the point of attack. He had some rough spots after his trade from New Orleans, but overall he played near a Pro Bowl level in 2003. Pace is nimble, has long arms to fend off defenders and can muscle up. Pace could be a little nastier, but he still is a dominant run and pass blocker. Designated the team's franchise player, he could be a training camp holdout for the second straight year. When Pace did report last year, he was heavier but still played at an elite level. Backup Grant Williams is tenacious and capable of filling in on either side. Depth was added with the signing of Jeff Hatch, who started the final four games for the Giants last season.

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamDez
    Turley, Pace leave holes in Rams line
    by RamDez
    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
    -08-10-2004, 11:20 PM
  • RamWraith
    No Turley, no Pace, no peace
    by RamWraith
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist

    Right tackle Kyle Turley is a cornerstone in the Rams offense, one of a handful of veterans the unit is built upon.

    And now he is shelved by a nagging back injury that has him fretting about his future. Turley returned to St. Louis on Sunday for further testing and may head to Los Angeles to meet with a back specialist.

    So much for the notion that offseason disc surgery fixed his problem.

    "It was a threat to my career last year," Turley told reporters in Macomb, Ill. "For it to have possibly reoccurred is definitely a bigger threat."

    Uh, oh. You hate to see words like "threat" and "career" in the same quote, especially when back injuries are being discussed.

    Ever since reliable Fred Miller exited as a free agent after Super Bowl 34, the Rams have struggled to fill the right tackle position. Sometimes, successor Ryan Tucker dominated . . . and sometimes he got manhandled.

    Tucker, too, departed as a free agent. That ushered in the ill-fated John St. Clair Era. After the ironically nicknamed "Beast" flopped miserably, the Rams turned to Turley.

    They acquired him from New Orleans last year for a second-round pick, then locked him up with a five-year, $26.5 million contract extension with $12 million of that money guaranteed.

    He and Orlando Pace were impressive bookends on a Rams offensive line that got stronger as the 2004 season progressed. Their forceful play created high hopes for the unit coming into this season.

    Now Turley is sidelined and Pace remains out of camp as an unsigned franchise player. Grant Williams is holding down the fort at left tackle and right tackle is a grab bag. Utility lineman Ryan Schau could become a capable fill-in, but he, too, has been limited by a back problem.

    So what's the answer now? Scott Tercero? Greg Randall?

    Furthermore, center Dave Wohlabaugh must take it easy while recovering from offseason hip surgery. That moves Andy McCollum back to center and puts inexperienced guard Andy King on the first unit.

    Rams fans have every reason to fret about this unit. This mighty offense will sputter without sturdy run and pass blocking.

    When the Air Martz passing game is clicking, it dares opponents to blitz. But if the pass protections falter and blitzes are not read correctly, the quarterback gets hammered.

    With Chris Chandler backing up Marc Bulger these days, the Rams don't have any margin for error.

    The Rams came to camp looking to build a more consistent ground game in 2004. The addition of first-round pick Steven Jackson, a punishing runner, will allow the team to grind out more yardage between the tackles,

    If the line does its job, that is....
    -08-02-2004, 07:12 AM
  • RamDez
    O Line in trouble ?
    by RamDez
    O-line components are out of sync as Rams camp nears
    By Bill Coats

    Of the Post-Dispatch

    When the Rams assemble Wednesday morning for their first training camp practice, the offensive line will be far from intact: Left tackle Orlando Pace will be absent, center Dave Wohlabaugh will be on the sideline, and right tackle Kyle Turley will be trying to chip away rust.

    "We've got a lot of work to do," coach Mike Martz said.

    No area is of greater importance for the Rams. Without a solid line, the team will be hard-pressed to produce the kind of numbers that led to a 56-24 regular-season record and four playoff appearances over the last five years.

    That's not to suggest that this year's unit won't perform effectively. But with Pace embroiled in another contract dispute, Wohlabaugh still experiencing hip pain after offseason surgery, and Turley recovering from a back operation that kept him out of minicamp practices and has limited his workouts, the O-line is in flux as the team heads for Western Illinois University in Macomb.

    Here's a look at each of those situations:

    Pace missed the first month of camp last year before reluctantly signing a one-year, $5.73 million tender as the club's franchise player. He again has the franchise tag, but his agent, Carl Poston, has been negotiating with Rams president of football operations Jay Zygmunt on a multiyear contract.

    Martz said he expects Pace, a reigning All-Pro, "to be at camp probably a little sooner than he was last year. I think he understands the effect it has on this team. And also, no matter how hard he thinks he's training, it's not the same. It takes awhile to get going."

    Wohlabaugh started all 17 games last season despite the nagging hip problem. Martz said the Rams would be cautious with the nine-year NFL veteran and wait for the discomfort to ease.

    Turley, the team's major offseason acquisition in 2003, improved steadily, particularly with his pass-blocking, after struggling early in the season. "Kyle brings a toughness and a nastiness," offensive line coach John Matsko said. "And he's got tremendous leadership. Kyle leads by performance; he does his talking with his headgear, elbows and shoulder pads."

    Beginning his second year in the Rams' system should be an asset for Turley. "Normally, it makes a big difference," Martz said. "It's an advantage coming into camp that he's had this stuff, but also, he's missed an awful lot in the offseason. . . . It won't be easy for Kyle. It's not going to be like getting on a bike again; it just doesn't work that way."

    Veteran Adam Timmerman returns at right guard. With Wohlabaugh out, Andy McCollum moves to center from left guard, and Andy King, a second-year pro from Illinois State
    -07-25-2004, 12:56 AM
  • RamDez
    Rams fin e without Turley and Pace ---- so far
    by RamDez
    By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer

    August 13, 2004

    ST. LOUIS (AP) -- So far, the St. Louis Rams are doing just fine without their two bookend offensive tackles.

    It would have been logical for quarterback Marc Bulger be concerned before the preseason opener, considering Orlando Pace is holding out again and Kyle Turley hasn't practiced since re-injuring his surgically repaired back early in training camp.

    But Bulger was hit only twice in the first quarter in a 13-10 overtime loss to the Chicago Bears on Thursday night, when the first team was on the field. So the concerns about the makeshift alignment eased.

    ``They did a fantastic job,'' Bulger said. ``I didn't have too many pressures, and the one sack was a hot route.''

    Grant Williams stepped in for Pace, as he's done in the past. Scott Tercero, a sixth-round pick last year who missed the entire season with a knee injury, was solid at Turley's right tackle spot.

    Andy McCollum, who has moved from guard to center while Dave Wohlabaugh recovers from hip surgery, is more experienced at center, anyway. And Andy King, who has minimal NFL experience and played in only one game last year, was solid at McCollum's left guard spot.

    ``They came through fine,'' coach Mike Martz said. ``I really watched the offensive line in the first half as much as I could. The protection held up well.''

    Right guard Adam Timmerman helped hold things together with a quick recovery from a nerve injury to his neck and back. A cortisone shot Wednesday helped matters.

    ``I was a little sore, but we don't have a lot of numbers,'' Timmerman said.

    ``I took a few days off and it's feeling pretty good.

    ``Hopefully, it all kicks in.''

    Help is definitely on the way. It is just a matter of time before Pace, designated as the franchise player for the second straight year, agrees to a one-year tender offer and joins the team.

    Team doctors are hopeful that Turley will be back soon after he visited two specialists. Turley roamed the sideline in street clothes during the game, although he didn't stick around afterward.

    ``I didn't get any details from him,'' McCollum said. ``I think he wanted to escape before you guys (the media) grabbed him.''

    Updated on Friday, Aug 13, 2004 1:23 pm EDT

    -08-14-2004, 01:34 AM
  • Nick
    TSN Rams Report
    by Nick
    TSN Rams Report

    If LT Orlando Pace is a training camp holdout, T Grant Williams will keep Pace's seat warm until he reports. If Pace were out in the regular season, Kyle Turley would switch from right to left tackle and Williams would play on the right side. But in camp, it's more likely Williams will play on the left to limit the disruption to the offensive line. . . .
    CB Dwight Anderson, DT Brian Howard and RB Adam Matthews are rookie free agents who have a chance to make the team after impressive spring performances. Anderson could contend for the fifth cornerback spot. Howard has the quickness and hustle the team likes in its defensive linemen. Matthews showed good burst and instincts.


    Now that Marc Bulger knows he's the guy, he should be more relaxed--and effective. An underrated leader, Bulger is accurate and has improved at reading coverages. Even though the offense emphasizes aggressive play, Bulger needs to be a better judge of when to take chances, which will help him cut down on interceptions. At this stage in his career, Chris Chandler has no problem being the backup, and he's still one of the better deep throwers in the league. The question is whether Chandler, with his limited mobility, can carry the team if Bulger gets hurt. Jeff Smoker could be the quarterback of the future, but he's a year or two away from being able to handle the top backup job.
    -07-07-2004, 12:07 AM