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  • Martz rolls with punches of key injuries

    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 running back Arlen Harris suffered more of a stinger than a concussion against Chicago and should be back on the practice field Sunday when the team returns to work.

    Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa also may be able to practice, despite suffering a sprained ankle in the first quarter against the Bears.

    Wide receiver Kevin Curtis will get less work in practice this week because of shin splints.

    "He's hobbled up pretty good," Martz said. "We need to kind of back off him a little bit. And Dane (Looker) is going to probably have to pick up the load out there."

    No excuses on fumble

    The Rams were headed for at least a try at a game-winning field goal with 2 1/2 minutes to play Thursday, when Bears linebacker Joe Odom (Civic Memorial) jarred the ball loose from Looker for a fumble. It appeared that Odom grabbed Looker around the helmet, which should've been a penalty.

    But Martz said, "It doesn't matter. That's a situation where Dane just needs to get the ball, and get down, and you spot the ball and let's go. He should have avoided that. He's aware of that. It was just a learning experience."

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  • RamDez
    Martz reflects: Rams on the bubble may be in trouble
    by RamDez
    Martz reflects: Rams on the bubble may be in trouble
    By Jim Thomas

    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/14/2004




    MACOMB, Ill. - Mike Martz looked downright sour after the game Thursday. He barely said anything to his team in the locker room. He answered only a handful of questions in his postgame news conference. And then he retired to the privacy of his locker room area at the Edward Jones Dome to stew over the Rams' 13-10 overtime loss to Chicago.

    "Down deep inside, you can play marbles, and my blood's going to get going," Martz said Saturday. "I mean, you just compete."

    For most of the first three quarters Thursday, the Rams did just that. It wasn't always pretty. But the Rams were winning 10-3, and when the Bears took over at their 12 late in the third quarter, St. Louis had a 248 to 161 edge in yards gained.

    "I felt like we were in control," Martz said. "They had a couple big runs where we just overran things. Otherwise, I think we shut them down really good. And I know that first group in there on offense - I think they're ready to roll."

    In a game that Chicago seemed to treat a lot more like a regular-season contest - with lots of blitzing on defense and some trick plays on offense - the Rams still appeared to be headed for victory.

    But then it unraveled over the rest of regulation and the 17 seconds of overtime, when the Rams were mainly using players who either won't make the team or will be down on the depth chart.

    "I knew what was going on out there, and it's hard to bite the bullet sometimes," Martz said. "But I just don't like to lose. ... But I also know that it's my responsibility as a head coach to make sure that we have an opportunity to evaluate all these (young) guys in these types of situations."

    So Martz and new defensive coordinator Larry Marmie kept things basic - and watched.

    "We've got to know about these guys," Martz said. "You can't trick things up. You've got to kind of keep it simple and just let 'em play and see what they do."

    By early Saturday evening, after film review and with nearly two days to digest the game, the big picture was back in focus for Martz. And he felt much better about what transpired Thursday night.

    "All in all, I was very pleased, particularly in the first half with both groups (offense and defense)," Martz said. "I'm happy with this football team. I'm happy with the first (units) that I know we're going to play with."

    On the offensive line, he singled out the play of right guard Adam Timmerman and right tackle Scott Tercero for praise.

    "Scotty Tercero has really come to the forefront," Martz said. "He has really, really done well in the last few weeks. I hate to admit this:
    ...
    -08-15-2004, 01:11 AM
  • RamDez
    Martz isn't worried about all the vets on this year's team
    by RamDez
    Martz isn't worried about all the vets on this year's team
    By Bill Coats

    Of the Post-Dispatch
    07/30/2004





    MACOMB, Ill. - The Rams' corps of graybeards - players with 10 or more years of NFL experience - has reached double figures with the additions this season of defensive end Tyoka Jackson, offensive guard Adam Timmerman and center Dave Wohlabaugh.

    Ten is a fairly higher number. For example, the Chicago Bears, who will be in Macomb next Thursday-Saturday to scrimmage with the Rams, have only one 10-year vet on their roster.

    But rather than fret about an aging roster, Rams coach Mike Martz prefers to consider the experience of the group, which has 125 years of playing time in the league. Topping the list are punter Sean Landeta (20 years), quarterback Chris Chandler (17) and safety Aeneas Williams (14).

    "They know how to respond in so many different situations, particularly as the season gets going," Martz said.

    Their presence in training camp helps, too, Martz noted, especially as the number of practices pile up and the aches and pains set in. "When everyone's tired, they know how to respond because they've been here before," he said.

    The roster includes 23 rookies who are being exposed for the first time to the rigors of an NFL camp. And Martz doesn't skimp on the physical demands: On Friday morning, the team went through a hard-hitting two-hour workout in full pads that featured several jarring collisions.

    "It's our place to encourage (the younger players) a little bit, because you can get kind of dogged out," Timmerman said. "For us, there isn't a lot of anxiety about going to practice. But for them, they're kind of worried about it."

    Added Jackson: "Leading by example is what's important. Just having a number (of years) by your name is not where you earn your respect; you earn your respect by showing that that experience has taught you how to prepare properly, how to practice properly, how to get yourself ready to play mentally. And that's what you hope that the young guys can see."

    Turley practices Offensive tackle Kyle Turley, who had back surgery in the offseason and skipped some of the drills Thursday afternoon because of soreness, was fully involved in Friday's single workout.

    Cornerback Robert Cromartie, nursing a minor leg injury Thursday, stayed on the sideline Friday.

    Offensive guard Ryan Shau left early when his back tightened.

    Harris may return punts Arlen Harris, who averaged 23 yards on 51 kickoff returns last season as a rookie, may get more work bringing back punts this year, Martz hinted. "I think after what he went through last year, he could go in and do a good job for us in the punt return," he said.

    Harris returned seven punts for an
    ...
    -07-31-2004, 04:15 PM
  • RamWraith
    Rams Wrap Up Practice Week
    by RamWraith
    Thursday, August 12, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    No, Rams’ coach Mike Martz didn’t have his days mixed up. With their first preseason game only a day away, the Rams wrapped up a relatively light week of practice the day following what was probably their toughest workout.

    Coach Mike Martz said Tuesday’s practice was the equivalent of a regular season Wednesday practice. The practice lasted nearly three hours, with St. Louis working hard every step of the way.

    “We’re trying to teach our guys about a regular, in-season Wednesday practice and these are always chaotic because guys don’t understand the scout teams, the changing of getting in and out of the huddle, the speed, the focus, all that kind of stuff,” Martz said. “We’re trying to get them ready for Thursday night. In these Wednesday practices before the first game, (we) attempt to teach all these new guys about game preparation and bring them along the best we can, so it was okay.”

    Wednesday’s actual practice was slightly more reserved, lasting a little more than two hours. Now, the Rams turn their attention to Thursday night’s preseason game against Chicago. Kickoff is slated for 7:05 p.m. at the Edward Jones Dome.

    The Rams will not practice Friday and Saturday and returns to Macomb for practice to begin Sunday. There will be a week of practice next week before camp breaks after a morning workout Friday.

    Martz said his team is ready to get in some real game action after a tough pair of weeks of training camp.
    “I’d like to see one step further than we were a week ago in terms of the crispness of it,” Martz said. “I’d like to win every one of them. In the middle of the game, I’m not thinking that this is preseason.”

    PT FOR THE ‘ONES’: Martz won’t predict how long his starters or any of his team will play, but did say he expects starting quarterback Marc Bulger to play.

    The starters probably won’t play much more than a series or two for fear of injuries. Martz said he chooses not to discuss how much playing time anyone will receive. Martz said Wednesday that running back Marshall Faulk will not participate.

    TURLEY TALES: The Rams medical staff heard from offensive tackle Kyle Turley’s agent earlier this week, but there were no updates on Turley’s condition.

    Turley left camp in the early stages with problems with a bulging disc in his back. Turley had offseason surgery on his back and tweaked it in the opening days of practice. He has since returned to St. Louis to visit with back specialists, traveled to Los Angeles to see another specialist and Atlanta to see a third doctor.

    Martz said he doesn’t yet know the extent of the injury, but he does know that Turley is upset by the turn of events. Martz said he will have some discussions this weekend about results of Turley’s back reviews and hopes to have...
    -08-12-2004, 10:52 AM
  • RamDez
    Martz Pleased with First, Second Units
    by RamDez
    Martz Pleased with First, Second Units
    Saturday, August 14, 2004


    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer


    For more than a half of football Thursday night, St. Louis dominated Chicago. The bad news is the Rams ended up losing a 13-10 decision to the Bears. Fortunately for St. Louis, though, the first half was the portion of the game it was in control.

    The reason that comes as good news is that was the part where both sides played their first and second teams. The starting St. Louis offense moved the ball well behind quarterback Marc Bulger before a Jeff Wilkins’ 33-yard field goal capped its lone drive.

    The beat went on after the top unit left, as Chris Chandler turned in a nearly perfect performance, going 8-of-9 for 108 yards and a touchdown. The St. Louis offense finished the first half with 190 yards of offense and a 10-3 lead.
    Rams coach Mike Martz said he was happy with the top two units. “All in all, I was very pleased, particularly in the first half with both groups,” Martz said.

    St. Louis entered the preseason game with quite a few concerns that needed addressing. The main concern was along the offensive line, where both starting tackles and the center were missing and one of the starting guards played center. The line held up, though, behind the leadership of veteran guard Adam Timmerman, the lone starter on the unit playing his normal position at kickoff.

    Timmerman missed a pair of practices leading up to the game because of shoulder soreness, but Martz identified Timmerman’s leadership as a main reason for the first-half success. “He can play anywhere,” Martz said. “He can play in the street. It doesn’t make any difference. He’s what you’re looking for as a leader, as an example in every form.”

    Martz took the time Sunday to praise another lineman, only this one doesn’t quite have the pedigree and resume of Timmerman. Tackle Scott Tercero, making his first start in the NFL, overcame some nervousness to have a strong showing. If Tercero continues to perform at a high level, some of St. Louis’ major concerns might be eased.

    Martz, who has said in the past that he likes players to step up their play in the preseason and show themselves, said Tercero did just that. “I think that there’s a toughness with Scott that I didn’t realize was there because he’s such a quiet young man,” Martz said. “There’s a resolve… that you don’t know about these guys until you put them in pressure situations like we had him in. He really responded very well.”

    Tercero’s emergence could prove important in the next few months. Offensive tackle Kyle Turley is out at least four weeks with a bulging disc in his back. “The doctors have said four weeks from now they’ll have an idea about how he feels and what direction we’ll go,” Martz said.

    Center Dave Wohlabaugh could miss up to three months with his hip injury. Pro-Bowl left...
    -08-15-2004, 01:14 AM
  • Nick
    Rams Inside Slant
    by Nick
    Inside Slant

    He might have been briefly in coach Mike Martz's doghouse before training camp started, but running back Steven Jackson has done everything in his power to win back the coach's good graces in training camp.

    Martz had said Jackson was out of shape, didn't know the offense and wasn't in attendance at a precamp the team had before leaving for training camp. Jackson was unsigned at the time, but quickly signed a five-year contract and got to work.

    He would routinely stay after practice getting pointers from running back Marshall Faulk, and was showing all the attributes the Rams believed he had when they traded up to pick him in the first round of April's draft.

    In a scrimmage against the Bears Aug. 7, he showed good hands and pass-catching ability on a 22-yard play. Then, in the first exhibition game last Thursday, also against the Bears, Jackson rushed 15 times for 73 yards and added four receptions for 18 yards.

    One reason given for the Cowboys passing on Jackson is that he had arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason. Martz acknowledged his knee is still not 100 percent.

    "His leg, where he had his scope, is not quite as strong as it used to be," Martz said. "You can see that. He favors it a little bit."

    Still, most important, is that he did a solid job picking up blitzes. Martz wasn't upset that the Bears blitzed in such an early game because it gave the offense an opportunity to work against it.

    Said Martz of Jackson, "Offensively, Steven is learning the offense, he's getting better. He still doesn't have the leg strength back yet that he will have eventually. He's still learning our offense, but he did a terrific job in pass blocking, which for a rookie, is a big challenge. He did a great job in recognizing blitzes and getting over. Fortunately, they did blitz us, and that's good for us, because with him back there, he has to get tested before the season starts."

    Asked about Jackson's prior experience in that phase of the game, Martz said, "He was tuned in and that's what's impressive about him. I was very impressed with that. That's very important. I'm pleased with him in his progress. I really am. He still has a long way to go. He's very talented. He's a little bit of a misguided missile right now. The hardest thing about a running back is, he's still not familiar with the angles we are trying to block and the anticipation, and setting guys up. He doesn't know this running game like he will. There's a lot to be said for that. It's just like a quarterback coming in and not knowing where the receivers are. You can kind of guess, but it affects you a little bit."

    CAMP CALENDAR: Camp opened at Macomb, Ill., July 27, with the first practice the following day. The Chicago Bears traveled to Macomb for an afternoon practice Aug. 5, two practices...
    -08-16-2004, 09:47 PM
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