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  • Rams Head Home

    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, throughout our practices and our preseason games. He has not had any lapses. He, finally, at this point looks ready to take off.”

    With each passing day, a different Ram at a different position seems to be making a statement about where he fits in on the squad. This week, tight end Mike Brake appears to be shouting his credentials from a mountain. Brake’s sure hands and consistency seem to have made him the top contender for a spot on the 53-man roster. Martz said he has been impressed by Brake’s performance. “I think Mike Brake has done a much better job than we anticipated,” Martz said. “He’s made some real good plays out here. He’s a much better receiver in the passing game than I gave him credit for. He has excellent hands. I’m very pleased with him.”

    JENSEN RETURNS: Rookie tight end/fullback Erik Jensen did limited drills Wednesday afternoon, but came back at full tilt Thursday. Jensen, who played tight end through his time at Iowa, played fullback in high school. Jensen said it was frustrating to have to miss out on valuable opportunities to learn the offense and impress the coaches. “It happened the first week in camp and I felt like I was just starting to get that football feel back,” Jensen said.”
    Jensen missed about two weeks of practice with a knee injury.

    INJURY UPDATE: Cornerback DeJuan Groce returned to Macomb Wednesday night, hours after he rode back to St. Louis to have an MRI on his sprained knee. It is unknown when Groce will return, but the injury was not as serious as first feared and he should not miss extended time. Grant Williams (ankle), Cleeland (hamstring), Robert Cromartie (hamstring), Kevin Curtis (shin splints) and Bernard Holsey (knee) joined Groce on the sideline.

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

  • #2
    Re: Rams Head Home

    This happens every year. There's always some excuse, but I think Martz plans to leave early on purpose. First, to keep fans from getting in the way of their departure. Second, trying to practice while the equipment you need to use is being stowed away in a truck is a bit tricky to avoid. Third, if they did stay till the day before the students at WIU had to move into the same rooms that the Rams previously occupied, the cleaning crew would have to work overnight to get them ready, and frankly, I've worked for the university cleaning dorms before, I don't think it's humanly possible. There's also the cross over sharing practice fields with the university's football team.

    The last time the Rams stayed till the scheduled end, it was the first year with Martz as coach, they had a shorter camp that didn't cross over as much with the university's fall session, and it was still a mess grabbing equipment out of the players hands as soon as they were done with them to load them into a semi parked on the sidewalk leading to the practice fields. Lesson learned.

    I've noticed that Martz uses a lot double talk to manipulate his players to put forth a greater effort to impress him, (tells press he's got faith in a player but bringing in other talent to "compete" with him for the spot, etc.) it's no different when dealing with the public. As long as it culminates into a successful season, he's forgiven.


    Related Topics


    • 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
    • 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
    • RamWraith
      Rams Get Back to Work
      by RamWraith
      Sunday, August 15, 2004

      By Nick Wagoner
      Staff Writer

      With less than a week of training camp to go, St. Louis got back to work Sunday afternoon with a spirited workout. After a 13-10 loss to the Bears in their first preseason game in which a number of small mistakes cost them the game, the Rams began to remove the kinks.

      St. Louis had most of the weekend off after the game and returned to Macomb on Sunday morning. The rookies and first-year players came back Friday and the veterans were free to return before Sunday morning’s weightlifting session.

      Now, the Rams will have plenty of time to remove the miscues, as they don’t play another game until an Aug. 23 showdown with cross-state rival Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. Martz said it was nice to get his team back to work and begin correcting the problems that were evident Thursday night. “They ran and lifted this morning to kind of get the blood flowing a little bit,” Martz said. “They get out here in full gear and it’s hard to get used to that when you’ve been off for a little bit, but I thought they did a good job.”

      The practice seemed to run smoothly with the starting offense getting a lot of repetitions. Running back Marshall Faulk took every snap with the first unit and looked strong, showing good burst and vision, as per his usual. Quarterback Marc Bulger continued his excellent camp with some nice completions into traffic and a perfectly thrown deep ball that Torry Holt hauled in for a long touchdown.

      Martz said he can’t be worried about fatigue this late in camp and he likes the way the team came back after having some down time. “They have worked so hard,” Martz said. “You’ve got to recover. You just have to let some of these nicks heals. We have a real tough stretch here after this next week. If you’re going to take a break, now is the time to do that.”

      MISSING PERSONS FILE: A few Rams missed Sunday’s workout for various reasons. Martz said defensive end Anthony Hargrove left to take care of his family and friends in the south who were affected by Hurricane Charley. Hargrove was given the time to ensure that they could find a hotel and that everyone was safe. Fortunately, Hargrove’s family was safe when he got there.

      Chris Dishman also got a little extra time over the weekend so he could get some things in order. When Dishman signed, he reported to camp immediately and had little to no chance to tie up any loose ends at his home in Arizona, let alone say goodbye to his family. Martz excused him to take care of anything outstanding. Hargrove and Dishman are expected back as early as Monday.

      INJURY UPDATE: Pisa Tinoisamoa and Arlen Harris practiced as normal Sunday, showing few ill effects from injuries suffered against the Bears. Tinoisamoa (left ankle sprain) and Harris (slight concussion) didn’t miss any time.
      Robert Cromartie and Cameron...
      -08-16-2004, 05:14 AM
    • RamDez
      With minor renovations, Rams begin to build
      by RamDez
      With minor renovations, Rams begin to build
      By Jim Thomas

      Of the Post-Dispatch

      MACOMB, Ill. - The foundation was laid a couple of months ago, during minicamps and the lighter practices known as OTAs, or organized team activity.

      But with Wednesday's start of training camp, veteran safety Aeneas Williams provided this construction update: "We're now putting in the 2-by-4s, and starting to build a sturdy house."

      Some of the outward swagger of past Rams teams is gone. But with a 61-27 record over the past five seasons - including four playoff berths, three division titles and two Super Bowl appearances - expectations remain high.

      "In my opinion, this is as good a team as I've been on in my career - in terms of talent," defensive captain Tyoka Jackson said. "Now, the experience level is not what it was in 2001 (the Rams' most recent Super Bowl squad). But talent-wise, no question it's there."

      By season's end, the Rams expect to build a mansion, not a shack. And coach Mike Martz already is tinkering with the blueprint. Most notable on Wednesday was the sight of Arlen Harris working almost exclusively at halfback.

      "We think that's what he is, really," Martz said.

      But what about those plans to switch Harris to fullback?

      "We want him to learn fullback, because ultimately during the season, we'd like to use him as such - with he and Marshall (Faulk) in the backfield, just as another alternative in various personnel groupings," Martz said. "And if you teach him (fullback), in the event that something would happen to Joey Goodspeed, we know that he can go in there and survive and do well. But first and foremost we kind of look at him as a halfback."

      This is true even though Harris reported at 226 pounds, about 15 pounds heavier than his playing weight as a rookie last season. An offseason of weight training and conditioning has made Harris faster, even in his bulked-up form.

      "He really got our attention because he's got some real live ability in terms of reading and cutting and breaking tackles and all those things," Martz said.

      The Rams also have moved defensive end Nick Burley to tight end.

      The Rams' 10th training camp since the move to St. Louis began bright and early Wednesday. Martz has moved up the starting time of morning workouts to 8 a.m. - an hour earlier than past camps.

      "I'd rather be sleeping," wide receiver Torry Holt joked. "But if that's what Coach (Martz) feels is going to make us a better football team and get us through training camp ... we've just got to do it."

      At least no one could complain about the weather. It was resort weather - so much so that Martz came out for the start of the afternoon
      -07-29-2004, 02:34 PM
    • RamWraith
      The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens
      by RamWraith
      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      MACOMB, Ill. - Armed with air mattresses, extra pillows and assorted creature comforts, Rams players arrived for training camp Tuesday with a mixture of dread and delight.

      Dread for the regimen of two-a-days that begins anew this morning on the practice fields of Western Illinois University. Delight in the renewal of friendships and the anticipation of the season that lies ahead.

      "Camp is camp," linebacker Robert Thomas said. "It's the toughest thing you go through during the football season. You'd rather be at home, rather be in your own bed. But it brings us together as a team, through something that you've got to fight through together."

      "It's time," said Arlen Harris, who will try to make the switch from tailback to fullback this season. "Sitting at home, you can only work out so much. So I was ready to go."

      Harris spent part of his summer in the tropics of Aruba. Thomas went boating on Lake of the Ozarks. Defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson hopped into the family truck with his wife, daughter and niece, and headed for Christmas, Indiana.

      "It's an area where it's Christmas every day of the year," Jackson said. "We stayed at the Santa Claus Inn."

      But as of Tuesday night, the residence for 80 Rams players is the Thompson Hall dormitory, known for its frigid air conditioning and lumpy mattresses.

      "Probably the worst thing about staying up here is the beds that we have to sleep in," long snapper Chris Massey said. "Too short, too narrow, not too comfy."

      Massey made the drive from St. Louis with 67.

      "They closed some exit I usually take on 67, so that made us go nine extra miles," Gordon said. "We took out that map. But we figured it out."

      Safety Adam Archuleta made a fashion statement as he lugged his things into Thompson - he was sporting a blue and white headband.

      "I just felt like rockin' a headband today," Archuleta said, somewhat defensively.

      The Rams open practice this morning with all seven draft picks signed and on the field. Only franchise player Orlando Pace, in the midst of another contract stalemate, will be missing in action.

      "We've got an Orlando watch out - out there on the highway," coach Mike Martz joked. "When 'Big O' gets here, we'll love him to death. I understand what he's going through. I really do. It's hard for coaches. But it is what it is. We're not going to change it. Why worry about it?"

      Center Dave Wohlabaugh, still feeling the effects of offseason hip surgery, will be the player most limited in practice.

      "I think we have to be very careful with him," Martz said. "We will piecemeal...
      -07-28-2004, 05:34 AM