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Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

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  • Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Rams linebacker Tommy Polley was happy last May at minicamp, but he was demoted to second string Sunday.
    (Chris Lee/P-D)

    MACOMB, Ill. - Who said exhibition games are meaningless?

    That wasn't the case Sunday for Tony Newson and Scott Tercero, and conversely, Tommy Polley and Andy King.

    In the Rams' first practice since Thursday's exhibition opener, against Chicago, Newson found himself with the starting unit at outside linebacker in the base defense. Polley was working with the second string.

    On the offensive line, Tercero worked with the first unit at left guard, with King moving from starting left guard to second-team right tackle.

    Newson said he was pulled aside by linebackers coach Joe Vitt about 20 minutes before Sunday's practice and told: "We're going to make a little change today."

    "That was a wrench thrown at the last minute," Newson said. "So it was quite a surprise."

    Newson played weakside linebacker for the rest of the Bears game after Pisa Tinoisamoa suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter.

    "It gave me a chance to kind of earn a little bit of the coach's trust," Newson said. "So I thought I did pretty good."

    Apparently, so did Vitt, because on Sunday Newson was ahead of Polley at the strongside spot.

    Tercero was told of his switch by offensive line coach John Matsko in meetings before practice.

    "I was surprised at first, but I have more experience at guard," Tercero said. "So I feel a little bit more comfortable there."

    He started at right tackle against the Bears and played very well, but guard is his natural position from his college days at the University of California.

    With nearly a month remaining before the season opener, it may be premature to read too much into Sunday's depth-chart shuffling. Nonetheless, coaches don't make such changes on a whim. Even for one practice.

    So are these new job assignments permanent?

    "I have no idea. I really don't," Tercero said. "And I try not to read into that. Wherever they put me, I'll play as well as I can, and then we'll go from there."

    Newson said, "I'm not even going to speak on that right now. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Right now the wind is twirling."

    The biggest surprise would be if Newson held off Polley for the starting job.

    Polley, 26, has been a starting outside linebacker for the Rams since early in his rookie season of 2001. He was second on the team in tackles in '01 (with 119), and last season (with 115). Last season, Polley shared the team interception lead (four) with three other players.

    Polley was all over the field in the Aug. 7 scrimmage against Chicago but wasn't effective against the Bears in Thursday's game.

    Keep in mind also that Polley is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after this season, so this is an important year for him.

    Newson, 24, signed with Kansas City as an undrafted rookie in 2002 out of Utah State. He spent most of that year on the Chiefs' practice squad but played in the final four games of the regular season.

    Last season, he suffered a fractured sternum on the second day of camp and was cut by the Chiefs at the end of the preseason.

    Newson rejoined Vitt - his position coach in KC - by signing with the Rams on March 15. Being with a position coach he knows makes a world of difference, Newson said.

    "I know his terminology," Newson said. "I know the way he's going to coach. I know what he expects of me. There's somewhat of a comfort to it. But you've still got to go out there and perform no matter who the coach is."

    As for Tercero, some observers and team officials felt he'd be in the mix at left guard all along, once it became apparent that center Dave Wohlabaugh (hip) would be sidelined for some time. (That injury moved last year's left guard, Andy McCollum, back to center.)

    But Kyle Turley's back injury and Orlando Pace's contract impasse forced Tercero to tackle in late spring.

    Wherever he has played, Tercero has displayed toughness, quick feet and sound technique. King also is a tough-minded player, but isn't as athletic as Tercero.

    Tercero "is going to do everything you ask him to, I know that," coach Mike Martz said. "He won't make mistakes. We'll let him get adapted to," left guard.

    While taking nothing for granted, Tercero says the more snaps he can get with the starting unit, the better. No matter what position he's playing.

    "Just playing next to Grant Williams and Andy McCollum right now - two really good players - the more experience I can get, the better my career will be," Tercero said.

  • #2
    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

    no surprise to me... Polley hasn't a clue how to defend the run (along with D.Lewis) and had a terrible season last year. IMO - he is average at best and is cannon fodder for Free agency this offseason..

    I don't see Newson there long term though... maybe Chillar gets a shot..


    • #3
      Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

      Polley can be effective against the run, just hasn't shown it recently. I'm hoping this is just a simple wake up call.


      • #4
        Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

        Originally posted by txramsfan
        I'm hoping this is just a simple wake up call.
        It's a wake up call all right. It should wake people up to the fact that the Rams have sorely needed a proven LB, preferably at MLB, for at least the last two years. Dipping into the grab bag of journeymen will not cut it for adding depth or stablity, while waiting for unproven LBs to establish themselves.


        • #5
          Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

          The only problem at MLB has been health issues with Thomas. If he can stay healthy, we are fine in the middle. Polley needs to really step up his running defense. He has to as he plays the strong side LB.


          • #6
            Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

            Originally posted by txramsfan
            The only problem at MLB has been health issues with Thomas. If he can stay healthy, we are fine in the middle.
            I'd really like to back you on this but let me quote your buddy first:

            Originally posted by sMartz
            Defensively, I was pleased with the effort. We overran some things, which resulted into [sic] some big plays, which is good because you can fix that.
            RBs cutting back against the grain/flow/misdirection ate up the Rams D in the latter part of last year - if not all year. sMartz falls back on his ever-optimistic belief that we "can fix that." Well, maybe, but I contend that the fix has to come from the LBing corps. The D-line unquestioningly has a role to play.

            But over-pursuing LBs that were brain-washed into thinking that speed was the only answer, who aren't exerting enough brute force to throw blockers back into a running lane, will not stop anyone's ground game.

            Now if Thomas and Pisa are bringing a different approach to the game from Vitt then maybe it will be fixed. But I still maintain that the LBing corps needs at least one established force to disrupt O game plans. Given that Thomas is in his 2nd year at MLB and Pisa is in his 2nd year, perhaps this year will be when they truly emerge as bone-crushers.

            Which leads me back to wondering if it really was necessary to release Shanle last year ... he seemed like a raw force who just needed some tutelage ...


            • #7
              Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

              You know, I'm glad you call him sMartz because he is one the smartest coaches in the NFL.

              Good job adarian. Great job. Glad you like Martz as much if not more than I do.

              Alright adarian.


              • #8
                Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

                Originally posted by txramsfan
                You know, I'm glad you call him sMartz because he is one the smartest coaches in the NFL.

                Good job adarian. Great job. Glad you like Martz as much if not more than I do.

                Alright adarian.

                Now I talk football and you want to thank me for pointing out how much of what sMartz has done smarts so bad that I am still smarting over the Carolina loss?


                • #9
                  Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

                  absolutely adarian. Ok, even someone as smart as Martz makes mistakes. You seem intelligent, do you make perfect judgement calls everytime?

                  Yes, the Rams do overpursue against the run. Thomas had a solid game when he played though. The D line overpursued against the run also. The Rams have time to correct this before the opener. If this tactic is still being employed in the regular season, I'll be upset also.


                  • #10
                    Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

                    Well, since this is concerning Robert Thomas, let me quote Martz as well:
                    (On LB Robert Thomas’s performance)
                    “I think that the leadership on the field, the calls, and just taking charge of the entire defense to begin with, before the ball is even snapped. Everything was impeccable, there wasn’t any wasted motion. He tried to do everything exactly the way Joe’s (Vitt) coached him to do it. Once the ball is committed he’s there, great coverage. I think his was probably the best performance of the entire team.”


                    • #11
                      Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

                      I'll be very surprised if Polley's not the starter on opening day.


                      • #12
                        Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

                        As will I, Avenger. As tex said, I'm hoping this is just a wake up call for him to really get in gear.


                        • #13
                          Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

                          Originally posted by txramsfan
                          do you make perfect judgement calls everytime?
                          Only when I'm stoned ...


                          • #14
                            Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

                            Only when I'm stoned
                            He he he ....... :confused:
                            Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster


                            • #15
                              Re: Rams make changes on depth chart--Polley demoted

                              a) Tommy Polley is a good LB that will likely improve this season -- I say he remains a starter. He's a proven defender, good instinct against the pass.

                              b) Hey, I too like/respect Coach Martz; have done so since he was our OC in 99. I was very upset with him about the Warner bench / saga and all that, but I fully trust MM's madness and feel that this is THE year for him.

                              c) What is the status -- or the word -- on LB T. Faulk?

                              d) Will Pisa be ready for opener game?

                              e) Good to read into ClanRam!


                              Related Topics


                              • RamWraith
                                Newcomer Newson Makes Move
                                by RamWraith

                                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, 10:12 AM
                              • RamDez
                                Tercero is a "warrior" chasing Mexican roots
                                by RamDez
                                Tercero is a "warrior" chasing Mexican roots
                                By Bill Coats

                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                Rams guard Scott Tercero keeps an eye on his man in training camp. Tercero is expected to start at left guard in place of injured Chris Dishman on Sunday afternoon.
                                (Chris Lee/P-D)

                                Although he was born and raised in the United States, Rams guard Scott Tercero remains curious about his Mexican ancestry.

                                "I think a lot of third- and fourth-generation children lose track of their heritage," Tercero said. "I've been trying to find out about the area where my grandparents grew up."

                                That would be Zacatecas, a city of 117,500 situated in central Mexico, about 400 miles northwest of Mexico City. Tercero had scheduled a trip there, but illness forced him to cancel.

                                Richard and Theresa Tercero reared their family - Scott, plus younger siblings Brent, Grant and Alison - in Pico Rivera, a suburb east of Los Angeles. As a youngster, Scott said, learning about his Mexican roots "wasn't that big of a deal."

                                But as he grew older, Scott's interest in his family's background increased. He intends to plan a trip to Zacatecas, home of Mexico's oldest bull ring but hardly a hotbed of NFL fans. If Tercero continues to make a name for himself with the Rams, perhaps that will change.

                                Tercero, a second-year pro from Cal-Berkeley, is expected to start at left guard in place of injured Chris Dishman on Sunday, when the Rams (2-2) face the Seahawks (3-0) in Seattle in an NFC West showdown. Tercero, the Rams' sixth-round draft choice in 2003, made his first career start last Sunday in the Rams' 24-14 victory at San Francisco.

                                "I had a lot of family there and a lot of friends, so it added that much more to the excitement," said Tercero, who will turn 23 on Oct. 28. "A lot of people that are important to me got to see me play in my first start."

                                They saw him play well, according to left tackle Orlando Pace.

                                "Scotty played great," Pace said. "He broke a bone in his hand, and that just goes to show how tough he is: He stayed in the game. He's a warrior out there."

                                After reviewing Tercero's performance on tape, coach Mike Martz echoed Pace's assessment. Martz said one play in particular stood out.

                                "I don't know how he saw this linebacker coming on a pitch play where Steven (Jackson) took it down to about the 10-yard line," Martz said. "He saw (the linebacker) and turned back in and got him. He has an awareness that's really unusual."

                                Apprised of Martz's wonderment over the play, Tercero laughed and claimed to possess no special skills in clairvoyance.

                                "I wouldn't say that I have a sixth sense," he said. "You play the game
                                -10-10-2004, 01:19 AM
                              • RamWraith
                                Shoulder injury puts Tercero out for season
                                by RamWraith
                                By Jim Thomas
                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                Rams offensive lineman Scott Tercero proved in 2004 that he could play in the NFL. Unfortunately, he's done playing for the season because of a shoulder injury that will require surgery.

                                Tercero was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, ending a season in which he rocketed up the depth chart with a surprisingly strong showing in the preseason and started four regular-season games at left guard.

                                "I would've loved to have finished the season," Tercero said. "But to get to play in the first half of the season was great. I got some experience under my belt, and I'm going to try to take it from here and put that into next season."

                                With Chris Dishman expected to miss this week's game in Buffalo because of a knee injury, it looks like Tom Nutten will start for the Rams at left guard, the position he manned from 1999 through 2002 in St. Louis, including two Super Bowl starts.

                                Tercero, a sixth-round pick by the Rams in 2003 from California, spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad. But with the encouragement of Rams coaches, who told him he had the potential to play in the NFL, Tercero worked on getting bigger and stronger in the offseason.

                                "I think that was probably one of the biggest knocks against me, that I was undersized," said Tercero, who's listed at 6-4, 303 pounds.

                                The work apparently paid off. With Orlando Pace missing all of the preseason in a contract impasse, Tercero started all four exhibition games at offensive tackle, displaying quick feet and good agility.

                                "That first preseason game, I was really nervous because I had a lot to prove - not only to the management and the (coaching) staff, but to myself that I could play at this level," Tercero said. "You really don't know that, until you put your hand in the dirt and you actually do play."

                                Once the regular season began, he took over for the injured Dishman at left guard with starts against San Francisco (Oct. 3), Seattle (Oct. 10), Tampa Bay (Oct. 18) and Miami (Oct. 24).

                                But almost as soon as he began playing, the injuries started mounting. Tercero suffered a broken bone in his left hand against the ***** but kept playing even though he had to wear a cast and at times appeared to be blocking almost one-handed.

                                Then came a nagging right shoulder injury that couldn't be overcome. Tercero missed some time against New England and was on the pregame inactive list Sunday against Seattle because of the shoulder problem. But he can't recall exactly when or how he initially suffered the injury.

                                "It's something that's been bothering me for the last few weeks," Tercero said. "It was starting to get progressively worse, to the point where I made a decision that I wouldn't be able to play...
                                -11-17-2004, 10:59 AM
                              • RamWraith
                                Inside Slant
                                by RamWraith
                                When training camp opened, the biggest question facing the Rams was how they would get through training camp with an unsettled situation on the offensive line, given the unknown status of tackles Kyle Turley and Orlando Pace and center Dave Wohlabaugh.

                                Turley was recovering from offseason back surgery, while Wohlabaugh had surgery on his hip in the offseason. The Rams knew Pace would likely not be in camp as the team's unsigned franchise player, so how the line would be deployed because of the Turley and Wohlabaugh injuries was an issue.

                                It turned out to be even bigger than expected when Wohlabaugh never made it onto the field and was released and Turley aggravated his back during the first few days of camp. Turley was placed on injured reserve in the cutdown to 65 players.

                                Those factors resulted in frequent shuffling on the line in camp. Andy King began as the left guard, but lost that job after the first exhibition game and was replaced by Chris Dishman. Dishman had decided to retire before coach Mike Martz convinced him to sign, and he reported at 375 pounds.

                                Grant Williams, who would be the right tackle as Turley's replacement, was forced to play on the left side throughout most of camp because of Pace's absence. Scott Tercero got a lot of work at tackle, even though most in the organization believe his best position is guard. Greg Randall, who was with the Texans last season, was signed when it became apparent Turley wouldn't be available.

                                Guard Tom Nutten, who played for the Rams during their Super Bowl seasons, but left for the Jets last year and then retired, was brought back a few days before the third exhibition game against Washington and injured his toe on his second play.

                                That's the type of summer it's been for a team that has deep offensive talent, but knows it could go for naught if the line doesn't come together.

                                Complicating things even more was Pace's decision to stay away for the entire preseason. Last year, as the franchise player, he reported and signed 12 days before the season opener and was able to play in the exhibition finale.

                                Not this time. Pace remained unsigned when the Rams played the Raiders Sept. 2, and for the first time, Martz voiced frustration with the situation.

                                Asked about Pace not being with the team, Martz said, "To be honest with you I don't think about it. This is our football team right now, I would just assume he's not coming in. That's his decision, and we're moving on.

                                "You can't let one player, no matter how good he is, or how good of a person he is, hold a team hostage waiting for him to come in. We have to move on, and get ready for Sept. 12th."

                                For line coach John Matsko, he has to get this group ready.

                                "Each year's different," Matsko said. "The challenge this year was to bring a bunch of guys...
                                -09-02-2004, 11:34 AM
                              • RamWraith
                                Rams offensive line serves and protects in exhibition win
                                by RamWraith
                                By Bill Coats
                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                Saturday, Aug. 28 2004

                                Group recovers against Washington after a difficult outing Monday in loss at
                                Kansas City.

                                If the Rams' Scott Tercero never reads or hears the term "patchwork offensive
                                line" again, he'll be a happy man.

                                "I don't think they should use that," said Tercero, who has been playing right
                                tackle with the first unit. "Everyone's tired of hearing 'patchwork offensive
                                line.' Yeah, we have a couple of young guys playing, but with time, experience
                                comes. And I think we're doing really well."

                                It was hard to argue with Tercero after the Rams' 28-3 preseason victory over
                                the Washington Redskins on Friday night at Edward Jones Dome. The Rams'
                                offense, which totaled only 584 yards and mustered just 17 points in the first
                                two exhibition games combined, broke out for 435 yards against the 'Skins.

                                Perhaps as significant, the line kept quarterbacks Marc Bulger, Chris Chandler
                                and Jeff Smoker out of harm's way, for the most part. The Redskins recorded one
                                sack just four days after the Kansas City Chiefs dropped Rams QBs four times.

                                "If you look across the board, there's nothing to be embarrassed about; those
                                (offensive linemen) are a good group," Bulger said. "I don't know of any group
                                that can just come together in a week and play great, especially against the
                                package of blitzes that Kansas City had. They've had a little more time
                                together, and they're going to be fine."

                                With first-team tackles Orlando Pace (contract dispute) and Kyle Turley (back
                                injury) out and incumbent center Dave Wohlabaugh (hip injury) released, the
                                only remaining starters on the line are guard Adam Timmerman and center Andy
                                McCollum, who played left guard last season.

                                Plugging the holes have been Tercero, tackles Grant Williams and Greg Randall,
                                and guards Chris Dishman and Andy King. Randall and Dishman were signed as free
                                agents after training camp began, and guard Tom Nutten, a Rams starter for four
                                years, was summoned out of a one-year retirement a week ago.

                                Dishman, an eight-year veteran who has been starting at left guard, carried a
                                heavy load Friday because Nutten suffered a toe injury in the first half.
                                Dishman, who has shed 20 pounds but still weighs 354, said the extra work was

                                "It was good to see where I was at to (prepare to) play a full game; I felt
                                pretty good," said Dishman, who also had retired before the Rams called. "There
                                were a couple of long drives and my conditioning was better than what I thought
                                it would be. Not as good as I'd like it to be, but it'll get there."...
                                -08-28-2004, 05:51 AM