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  • Nütten Returns to Rams

    Nütten Returns to Rams
    Friday, August 20, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Tom Nütten spent the better part of the past year coaching tight ends for the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europe. It came as little surprise, then, when Nütten arrived at Rams Park on Friday afternoon looking like his players.

    After five years with the Rams, where he started at left guard in both of St. Louis’ Super Bowl appearances, Nütten signed with the New York Jets in the 2003 offseason. Nütten battled many injuries during training camp and retired on Aug. 14.

    Nütten, who was born in Toledo, Ohio, but grew up in Quebec, signed on with the Centurions, a new franchise in NFL Europe, in March. Nütten was one of a few former Rams taking part in a new program between NFL Europe and the NFL that allows young coaches to gain valuable experience in the game and get a comprehensive evaluation of their abilities. Former Rams D’Marco Farr and Amp Lee also coaching in NFL Europe in 2004.

    Now two months after the NFL Europe season ended, Nütten signed a one-year deal with the team that gave him his start in the league. Nütten’s signing comes after a series of injuries and uncertainties along the offensive line has created opportunities.

    Nütten, who was living in Tampa, Fla., was preparing to teach at a football camp when he got the call from the Rams on Wednesday night. With Nütten’s recent injury problems, the team ran numerous medical checks, which Nütten passed.

    Nütten made sure to apologize to the kids ready to attend his camp, but he said he had to take advantage of a circumstance that was unique. “Hypothetically, people always ask ‘what would you do if a team calls you and wants you to come out of retirement,” Nütten said. “Obviously, I would say hell no, knowing it was a longshot that a team calls you anyway, especially your old team. If it were any of the other 32 teams, it would have been a real easy answer: no, no thank you, but these are the guys I bled with, the guys I sweated with. It’s an opportunity I didn’t want to let slip away.”

    Nütten comes back to St. Louis with plenty of experience under his belt, having started 56 games as a left guard. The biggest problem facing Nütten right now is the number of notches he is using on his belt.

    While most offensive linemen never lose their voracious appetites, Nütten actually lost between 20 and 25 pounds. His final listed playing weight was 304 pounds, but he estimated he is around 280 now. Nütten said he would attempt to add five to 10 pounds before the regular season begins Sept. 12 against Arizona.

    When it was suggested to Nütten that he could join Adam Timmerman and Andy McCollum, “The Doughnut Brothers,” Nütten wasted no time saying that he wants to add a different kind of weight. “I think they’re kind of jealous of my slim physique,” Nütten said. “I’m sure the jokes are going to be flying here all week and probably all through the season.”

    Nütten will probably spend most of the next few weeks attempting to add that weight. He said he expects to do a lot of weight lifting and running and hopes to ensure that any weight he adds will be muscle weight.

    Nütten also has experience playing center and as a snapper, but for the time being will work mostly at left guard. With Grant Williams out with a sprained ankle, Kyle Turley out with a back injury and Orlando Pace at a contract stalemate, the look of the line now is probably different than what it will be when the season starts.

    The top line Friday had Scott Tercero at left tackle, Greg Randall at right tackle and Chris Dishman at left guard, alongside constants Timmerman (right guard) and McCollum (center).

    It should be easier for Nütten to add weight since he can have that as his focus. With his experience on the team, Nütten knows the system well and should have few problems remembering where he is supposed to be and when. In addition, Nütten’s body was able to recover during the year off.

    Coach Mike Martz said the combination of those two things should help Nütten adjust more quickly. “The good news is when he left here he was pretty well beat up and he has been able to recover,” Martz said. “He played for us for a lot of years and played at a high level, so having him back in that frame of mind is terrific.”

    BACK HOME: Martz cancelled the scheduled Friday morning practice in Macomb because of a storm brewing in west central Illinois. He said it was nice to be back and it showed in the indoor practice facility at Rams Park. “It’s good to be back here,” Martz said. “It was a spirited workout, guys are moving around pretty good, so we are ready to go.”

    INJURY CHECK: Although there was a change of scenery for the team, there was little change on the injury front. Linebacker Tony Newson and fullback Joey Goodspeed sat out the practice with what Martz described as hamstring tightness. The rest of the injury lineup stayed the same: Cameron Cleeland (hamstring), Robert Cromartie (hamstring), DeJuan Groce (knee), and Kevin Curtis (shin splints). Williams did do some individual drills, but had a noticeable limp after practice.

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • 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, 11:12 AM
  • RamWraith
    Thursday Notes
    by RamWraith
    Thursday, December 16, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    While things on the defensive side of the ball for the Rams seem to be settling in, the same can’t be said for the offense.

    If it wasn’t bad enough losing quarterback Marc Bulger to a sprained right shoulder and running backs Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk to bruised knees, the offensive line is as bruised and battered as any unit on the team.

    Injuries and inconsistency have plagued St. Louis’ offensive line for most of the season and that has led to some tense moments. Bulger has taken many hits and that finally caught up to him against San Francisco on Dec. 5. Bulger began throwing again Wednesday and did some more Thursday, but is still questionable for Sunday’s game at Arizona.

    In addition to the injuries behind the offensive line, there is not a single Rams’ lineman who has been completely healthy all season.

    Rams coach Mike Martz said injuries have been the biggest cause of the line’s inconsistency.

    “I think it’s a little bit more complicated than the mindset,” Martz said. “We just have to have them ready. We’ll give some of these other guys some repetitions. It’s not a question of wanting to play good or the effort or anything. That’s never been the issue with these guys. They are just banged up, trying to fight through it and struggling a little bit. We have to do the right thing by these guys and give them the opportunity to get back physically.”

    Specifically, the guard position has been the most depleted this week. Right guard Adam Timmerman has yet to appear on the injury report, but he missed most of Wednesday and Thursday’s practices because of shoulder problems.
    Timmerman, who has joined fellow Doughnut Brother Andy McCollum as the Death and Taxes of the group, is usually impossible to keep out of practice. Martz said he practically has to force Timmerman to sit out.

    “Adam will not come out of practice, he just refuses,” Martz said. “He gets upset with it, and says he can’t leave his guys. It’s a very emotional thing for him; he’s the rock out there. Everything is kind of built around him in that offensive line, and if he leaves that huddle, even in practice for a minute, he has a hard time with that.”

    On the left side, Tom Nütten continues to struggle with foot and knee problems. Earlier this season, he missed time with a severe case of turf toe. He was limited in practice the past couple of days, also.

    Nütten replaced Chris Dishman at left guard when Dishman tore some ligaments in his knee. Dishman returned to practice Wednesday and did little on Thursday, but isn’t likely to return this week and his status for the rest of the season remains in question.

    If Nütten and or Timmerman aren’t able to play, that leaves rookie Larry Turner and Darnell Alford as the backup options....
    -12-17-2004, 10:53 AM
  • RamDez
    Rams Head Home
    by RamDez
    Rams Head Home
    Friday, August 20, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    With the quickness of a Marshall Faulk cutback, coach Mike Martz ended the Rams’ 2004 training camp about 5:15 Thursday evening. Martz cited a major storm brewing in the Macomb area as the reason for the abrupt end.
    “I told them to get out of here tonight,” Martz said. “I don’t want them driving home in the rain in the morning. We wouldn’t get anything out of a morning practice here, anyway.”

    The players and coaching staff will leave for St. Louis on Thursday night and probably have a practice Friday afternoon at Rams Park. The end of camp signals the next step in the drive toward the regular season. St. Louis will play cross-state rival Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night.

    The regular season kicks off Sept. 12 against Arizona at the Edward Jones Dome. Martz said he is more than satisfied with the work the team put in at camp. “We had a heck of a camp up here,” Martz said. “The injury list is minimal compared to what it’s been in past years. I’m pleased with where we are.”

    WOHLABAUGH GONE: It was a disappointing ending for center Dave Wohlabaugh, who spent 2003 starting in the middle of the Rams’ offensive line.

    St. Louis cut ties with its injured center Wednesday night. Wohlabaugh had surgery on his hip in March and was not expected back for at least three or four months.

    Wohlabaugh had not practiced with the team during this training camp and was likely going to miss the entire season. He recently traveled to Ohio to have the hip check out again, but the results were not positive that Wohlabaugh would play again this year or any other.

    With his tenure in St. Louis ending, so too, might his career. Wohlabaugh signed with the Rams on Feb. 28, 2003. Wohlabaugh was entering his 10th season in the league. Andy McCollum, who started at left guard for the Rams last season, moved back to center at the beginning of camp.

    McCollum said he feels comfortable playing his original position again, but he is sorry to see his friend and linemate struggle with injuries. “It’s just unfortunate, the injury that Dave had,” McCollum said. “He’s only been here a year, but I consider him a friend of mine.”

    TIGHT COMPETITION: Brandon Manumaleuna seems to be the only tight end that has wrapped up his position, though a return from hamstring problems by Cameron Cleeland could bring the competition into focus. Manumaleuna looks like he is in better shape, showing better burst off the ball and making some difficult catches in traffic.

    Martz said Manumaleuna’s offseason efforts are paying off handsomely. “Brandon has come a long way,” Martz said. “First of all, he has lost a lot of weight. He’s done a terrific job, in terms of being a receiver and a significant blocker. The thing about him is that he has been consistently excellent,...
    -08-21-2004, 12:19 AM
  • RamWraith
    Offensive Line Gives Strong Opening Act
    by RamWraith
    Monday, September 13, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Patchwork. Pieced together. Makeshift. Pick an adjective and the Rams’ offensive line was called it during the preseason. As the injuries mounted, the questions about the unit became as big as the men who played on it.

    With one regular season game down and a win on its record, St. Louis answered many of those questions with a resounding response. The starting group consisted of Orlando Pace (left tackle), Chris Dishman (left guard), Andy McCollum (center), Adam Timmerman (right guard) and Grant Williams (right tackle), playing its first game together.

    Finishing with zero sacks leading to 272 passing yards and a piledriving effort in the trenches that resulted in 176 rushing yards, the offensive line did more than jell, it dominated.

    After struggling with a trio of turnovers in the first quarter, the Rams decided to put it on the line, ramming (no pun intended) the ball down Arizona’s throat, leading the way to a 17-10 win at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday. The win was St. Louis’ first victory in an opener since it beat Philadelphia in 2001.

    Rams’ coach Mike Martz said he was more than pleased with the dominance of his offensive line.

    “I told our staff today that I felt like this is probably the best performance of an offensive line since I’ve been here,” Martz said. “Anytime you rush for those kind of yards and don’t give up any sacks, that’s a pretty exceptional day for any offensive line.”

    On the surface, it seemed like it would be difficult to put the line together in time to have any kind of continuity entering the regular season. Somehow, someway, the Rams made it work.

    The injury bug hit early when right tackle Kyle Turley left camp with back problems. Pace was absent on the other side because of a contract stalemate, leaving the Rams without either of their top-flight tackles. To make matters worse, center Dave Wohlabaugh struggled with a nagging hip injury, forcing left guard Andy McCollum to slide back to his center position.

    The only sure thing was Timmerman, who was forced to play through pain in his shoulder, just so the group could have some kind of consistent presence. Instead of crying over their losses, St. Louis got proactive, seeking help in the form of available free agents and looking within its own roster for possible help.

    Williams, who has been a steady hand in his time with the team, manned Pace’s position admirably, even playing on a badly sprained ankle. Scott Tercero was the utility man of the group, sliding between the two tackle spots and left guard at various times. In his second year, Tercero came of age, providing the Rams with a valuable commodity off the bench.

    Aside from the homegrown talent, St. Louis went shopping and found a high school football coach in Nebraska. Chris...
    -09-13-2004, 04:19 PM
  • RamDez
    Dishman is back after a visit home
    by RamDez

    Dishman is back after a visit home
    By Bill Coats

    Of the Post-Dispatch

    MACOMB, Ill. - When the football players at Lincoln (Neb.) North Star High saw Chris Dishman's Hummer parked outside the weight room early one morning this week, they figured he'd be coaching their team again.

    "They thought I was released," Dishman said after Wednesday afternoon's practice at Rams training camp. "They (said), 'Geez, you already got cut?'"

    No, Dishman is still with the Rams, vying for a job on an offensive line badly lacking in personnel. But he had some unfinished business that needed to be addressed, so he left for his Garland, Neb., home after Thursday night's preseason game in St. Louis and returned to Western Illinois University about noon Wednesday.

    "Just a lot of personal stuff," said Dishman, who had decided to retire after seven NFL seasons before Rams coach Mike Martz persuaded him earlier this month to accept a one-year deal and report to camp. Dishman said it seemed like a good idea at the time, but . . .

    "My kids, I didn't get to say goodbye to them," said Dishman, 30, a father of two. "It was getting tough for them, crying every night and calling me up and telling me they wanted me to come home. It started to make me (wonder) if . . . my retirement wasn't a bad plan. The money's all good and everything, but when you've got kids at home, the money doesn't really mean anything to you."

    Although Dishman acknowledged that "definitely there were second thoughts," he emphasized that he never seriously considered re-retiring. "My wife and my dad both said, you signed a contract, don't back out like some of those guys," he said. "I was raised that way. There was no way that I wasn't coming back."

    But he wanted to see his children again, as well as his extended family at North Star, where he'd been serving as an assistant coach. "I went up and saw them practice," he said. "I let them know why I wasn't there personally. Calling them on the phone, I think, is inconsiderate when you've spent four months with these kids.

    "Some of them don't have fathers. It's not a troubled group, but it's a new school there, so they're getting kids there from all over town. If you're a role model to them, you need to go back and show them your face and tell them you haven't forgotten about them."

    Two players are hurt

    Two more Rams went down with injuries Wednesday, but Martz reported that neither player was seriously hurt. Offensive tackle Grant Williams, who probably will be in the lineup when the Rams open the regular season Sept. 12, turned his right ankle in the morning practice and skipped the afternoon workout.

    Cornerback DeJuan Groce appeared to be much more
    -08-19-2004, 02:49 PM