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  • Injury prevents Coady from defending his job

    Injury prevents Coady from defending his job
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/07/2004




    MACOMB, Ill. - It's been a tough few months for Rams safety Rich Coady.

    First, the team selected a safety, Jason Shivers of Arizona State, in the fifth round of the draft. Then, veteran safeties Justin Lucas and Tom Knight were signed as free agents. Worst of all, training camp had barely begun when Coady was sidelined by back spasms.

    "I've never had a lower-back problem before," said Coady, who had to walk nearly doubled over for several days. "I felt like I was about 90 years old." Even more painful has been standing by while others compete for his job.

    "They tell you when you come into this league that every year, they're trying to replace you," said Coady, 28. "So you've just got to go out there and try to make yourself irreplaceable, and that's what camp's for. And when you're not able to do it because of injury, it's frustrating."

    Coady has spent four of his five NFL seasons with the Rams - he played for Tennessee in 2002, then was reacquired in a trade last Aug. 31. For much of last season, Coady served as the Rams' No. 3 safety, behind starters Aeneas Williams and Adam Archuleta. He also was a valuable special-teams performer.

    Coady is easing back into action, taking part in a limited number of drills. "I'm feeling pretty good," he reported Friday after the Rams and Chicago Bears practiced together. The teams will scrimmage at 10:30 a.m. today at Western Illinois University's Hanson Field.

    Where's Kyle?

    Coach Mike Martz had nothing new to report about offensive tackle Kyle Turley's back injury, mainly because Martz hasn't been able to track him down. Martz said Turley hadn't returned his phone messages.

    "I wouldn't have any idea where he is or what's happened," Martz said. "I've called him four times and have not heard back from him. I just don't know."

    Turley had offseason surgery for a herniated disc in March, and pain reoccurred early in camp. He left Sunday for an examination in St. Louis and also was expected to get evaluations in Los Angeles and Birmingham, Ala. Turley has expressed concern that his career could be in jeopardy.

    Fighting or fun?

    The last play of Friday morning's combined workout ended with a bang. Rams linebacker Tommy Polley and Bears fullback Bryan Johnson tangled, and soon some 150 football players were involved in a scrum, with a gaggle of coaches trying to pull them apart. No damage was done.

    "What most people don't realize is, when we get in there close, most guys are laughing, because that's fun," Rams defensive end Tyoka Jackson said. "It's like a bunch of kids just pushing on each other. Nobody can really get hurt. We've got helmets and shoulder pads on. A little pushing and shoving never hurt anybody."

    Loyal to Lovie

    Lovie Smith, the Bears' first-year head coach, isn't the only former member of Martz's staff now wearing orange and blue. Bob Babich, the Rams' linebackers coach last year, is filling the same role for Smith.

    "Coach Martz was great to me. He gave me my first opportunity to get into the NFL, and I will always be grateful for that," Babich said. "But I've known Coach Smith forever, and I was very excited to take the challenge with the Bears."

    Nicassio is back

    The Jesse Nicassio era with the Rams resumed Friday after a one-day hiccup. Nicassio, an undrafted rookie, was released Thursday to make room on the roster for center- guard Chris Dishman. But Nicassio didn't even have to leave town.

    On Friday, guard Ryan Schau was cut, and Nicassio was back in the fold. Schau, a University of Illinois product, had missed most of camp with a back injury.

    Tagliabue's roommate

    After visiting Rams camp Thursday and spending the night in Thompson Hall, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue checked out Friday morning and headed for the Minnesota Vikings' camp in Mankato, Minn.

    When housekeepers cleaned his room - which Rams general manager Charley Armey had relinquished for Tagliabue - they found an intruder: a small garter snake that apparently had stayed out of the commissioner's sight.



    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamWraith
    Tuesday Notebook
    by RamWraith
    By NICK WAGONER
    Staff Writer

    When the Chicago Bears came to Macomb for a series of practices capped off by a scrimmage this past week, everyone assumed it was simply a matter of Rams’ coach Mike Martz calling Bears’ coach Lovie Smith and asking.

    That assumption would be wrong. Sure, Martz did ask Smith to come to Western Illinois University, but there is another reason for the added workouts with the neighbors to the north and John Oswald is his name.

    Oswald is in his third decade with the team and the Vice President of Operations since 1992. Every time the Rams go on a road trip, Oswald makes it happen. When the team moves its entire organization to training camp, Oswald makes it work.

    It was no different this past week, when Oswald brought the Bears and Rams together in Thompson Hall for three days seamlessly. Martz was one of the first to credit Oswald for his efforts. “Let me just say this,” Martz said. “John Oswald really orchestrates this whole thing. He is the one that does all of this. By golly, he does a fantastic job.”

    Oswald helped put together the scrimmage with Tennessee in 2000, so he had some experience doing it, but there were a few new wrinkles this year. The setup was similar in that the Titans and Bears were put in Western Illinois’ locker room, training room and equipment room.

    The biggest difference, though, was a change made in Thompson Hall. In 2000, there was no cafeteria for the teams to share, so they ate on the 18th floor. Since then, Western Illinois has put in a new cafeteria that has more than enough room for two football teams and their staff.

    Oswald said he can’t take all of the credit for the planning. “We started from when they check in to when they check out, what exactly is their schedule going to be like,” Oswald said. “We go through it piece by piece and then we incorporate the university here which is very helpful. “There were a wide range of people that really assisted with the scrimmage itself.”

    The university provided the teams with security, transport vans and set up meeting rooms. Like with any meeting involving that many people, Oswald said there were a few hiccups along the way and there will be a meeting to evaluate those mistakes so the problems can be corrected in future scrimmages.

    Oswald said he is always on the lookout for another scrimmage opportunity, so he can do his part to help break up the monotony of camp. “Overall it went off without a hitch,” Oswald said. “I give all the credit to the university and the city of Macomb.”

    Those two entities deserve credit for helping, but, as Martz said, without Oswald in a leadership role, it would have been difficult.

    ROSTER MOVE: Offensive guard Jason Lenzmeier arrived to give the Rams another body on their thinning offensive line. Lenzmeier got word of the opportunity while in Boise,...
    -08-12-2004, 05:42 AM
  • RamDez
    Saturday Notebook
    by RamDez
    Saturday Notebook
    Monday, August 2, 2004


    By NICK WAGONER
    Staff Writer


    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.”





    Sunday Notebook


    By NICK WAGONER
    Staff Writer


    Two days removed from what was described as atrophy in his leg, offensive tackle Kyle Turley left camp Sunday afternoon with pain...
    -08-02-2004, 02:22 PM
  • RamDez
    Turley remains out of camp with bad back
    by RamDez
    Turley remains out of camp with bad back
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/09/2004





    MACOMB, Ill. - As Rams coach Mike Martz addressed a small group of reporters after Monday afternoon's practice, a cell phone went off.

    "Kyle, is that you?" Martz asked.

    He was joking, of course. Still, the training camp absence of first-team right tackle Kyle Turley has edged into its second week, and it's hardly a laughing matter. No determination has been made on how long he'll be away from Western Illinois University while having his back examined by a series of specialists.

    Martz hasn't been able to reach Turley, but he indicated that Rams officials have spoken with Turley's agent, Tom Condon.

    "Kyle's down in the dumps," Martz said. "This thing isn't as far along as he wants it to be, and he's very, very frustrated. ... I understand what Kyle is going through; I feel for the guy."

    Turley, 28, had surgery in March to repair a herniated disc. He skipped the on-field work at minicamp in May, but participated fully when camp workouts began July 28. Within a few days, he experienced pain in the same spot of the original injury and he was forced to the sideline again.

    Before he returned to St. Louis on Aug. 1, Turley acknowledged that he was concerned about his future in the NFL.

    Turley has been examined by Rams physicians in St. Louis and by Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles. He also is expected to see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.

    Condon could not be reached to comment Monday.

    "We've just got to get a conclusion medically in terms of a course of action he needs to take," Martz said. "Kyle's a guy that's played at an extremely high level his whole career, and now all of a sudden he's got something that's keeping him down. Guys as high-strung and competitive as Kyle is, that's hard to deal with. He'll be much better when he knows what the course of action is and he can focus on that."

    Other absences

    Three other Rams - center Dave Wohlabaugh, offensive tackle Jeremy Phillips and defensive end Kevin Aldridge - also were absent Monday.

    Wohlabaugh, who started every game last season but has missed all of camp, is having further evaluations on his hip in St. Louis and in Ohio, where surgery was performed in March on a torn labrum.

    Phillips, who has been troubled by stingers, returned to St. Louis to have his neck examined.

    Martz said that Aldridge, a second-year player with a shot at making the 53-man roster, had been granted an indefinite leave to take care of "a very serious personal issue."

    Back in business

    Several Rams who had been nursing minor aches and pains were back on the field Monday after a 1 1/2-day break following Saturday's
    ...
    -08-10-2004, 12:56 PM
  • Nick
    Martz rolls with punches of key injuries
    by Nick
    Martz rolls with punches of key injuries
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/15/2004

    MACOMB, Ill. - In terms of devastating news, it doesn't quite rank with quarterback Trent Green's season-ending knee injury in 1999. Nonetheless, the news that right tackle Kyle Turley and center Dave Wohlabaugh will be sidelined for lengthy periods wasn't exactly an August pick-me-up for coach Mike Martz.

    "But that happened last year to us - just at other positions," Martz said. "That's why those other guys are there. If you didn't feel good about those guys - a Scotty Tercero, for instance, or Grant Williams - then they shouldn't be there. And fortunately, both those guys have risen to the occasion."

    Turley (back) and Wohlabaugh (hip) have taken longer than expected to recover from offseason surgery. Both players left Macomb to get further medical evaluation on their injuries. The Rams got the results of those evaluations prior to the Chicago preseason game.

    Turley will be sidelined for at least four weeks, with emphasis on the "at least."

    "Kyle's going to take some time," Martz said. "The doctors said four weeks, and then they'll have an idea about how it feels, how he feels. And what direction he's going to go with that."

    As for Wohlabaugh. ...

    "That's a three-month deal," Martz said.

    Which is about three months longer than the Rams expected.

    "I felt like we'd have him for camp," Martz said. "That's how I understood it from his doctor up there in Ohio. And then I really felt like we would have him by now. So obviously we're disappointed. And I've got to tell you, Dave is very disappointed. He wants to play."


    No vanilla from Lovie

    Most teams don't get too fancy in the preseason, particularly the preseason opener. But there was nothing vanilla about head coach Lovie Smith's defense for Chicago. The Bears blitzed early and often.

    A few years ago, Martz was critical of blitzing by Tennessee's Jeff Fisher in a preseason game against the Rams. But he had no complaints about the Bears' blitzes, perhaps because of his close relationship with Smith - the Rams' former defensive coordinator.

    "I think that's what they are," Martz said. "I think that's what Ron (Rivera) wants to do. I kind of felt like they would."

    Rivera is the Bears defensive coordinator.

    "That's OK," Martz continued. "That doesn't bother me at all. It's good for us to see that stuff, because it helps our guys that haven't played see pressure situations in a game-type atmosphere. A guy like Andy King, a guy like Steven Jackson - they need to see that stuff."

    Injury report is light

    Martz said...
    -08-15-2004, 12:05 AM
  • RamWraith
    Newcomer Newson Makes Move
    by RamWraith
    stlouisrams.com


    It would be easy for Tony Newson to get complacent. After spending a little more than a year out of football altogether, he practiced with the first-team defense at strongside linebacker for St. Louis on Sunday.

    He could now rest on his laurels and enjoy the fact that he seems to have locked up a roster spot with a legitimate chance at cracking the starting lineup. Newson, of course, won’t do that. He doesn’t know the easy way out because he has never had it easy.

    The 6-foot-1, 247-pound linebacker entered training camp simply hoping to make the roster, perhaps by way of special teams. “Coming to camp, I had to prove myself,” Newson said. “It was trying to establish yourself and let everybody know that you are accountable for what you do.”

    For the time being, Newson appears to have shown that he is capable. Coming out of Utah State in 2002, Newson signed with Kansas City as an undrafted free agent. He was on the practice squad before moving on to the Chiefs for the final four games of the season.

    In 2003, Newson entered training camp with hopes of improving and perhaps playing more. Those hopes were dashed when he fractured his sternum early in training camp. The Chiefs cut him before the season started and Newson went to work in the real world.

    He spent time working many jobs and rehabilitating from the injury. He worked with emergency medical technicians, telemarketing and as a business representative. Newson said time spent in the “real” world helped him appreciate his opportunities in football. “Anytime you’re out for an entire year, a lot goes through your mind,” Newson said. “Of course, you are a lot more hungry than you were before.”

    Newson signed with the Rams on March 15. It didn’t hurt Newson’s cause that Joe Vitt, the only linebackers coach he has had, moved from Kansas City to St. Louis in the offseason. Newson was familiar with Vitt’s terminology and infectious enthusiasm for the game, making the adjustment that much easier. “I’m more comfortable with him and his teaching methods,” Newson said. “It helps a lot.”

    In his pursuit of the starting job, Newson moved past Tommy Polley, who had started for the better part of the past three years. Polley has been one of the teams’ top tacklers in that time, finishing second on the team in stops last season with 115.

    Coach Mike Martz said competition is a big part of training camp and the move is by no means permanent.
    “This happens all the time in camp,” Martz said. “We are trying different combinations and seeing what the best combination is. “We haven’t settled on our final three yet by any stretch of the imagination.”

    While Newson isn’t sure that he will remain with the top unit, he is sure that it is where he wants to be. Polley will almost certainly respond to the move with an intense finish to his camp. If anything...
    -08-17-2004, 11:12 AM
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