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Offensive line is in rough shape

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  • Offensive line is in rough shape

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    The problems on the Rams offensive line aren't going to go away in a day or two. Coach Mike Martz conceded as much Tuesday, sifting through the ashes of the previous night's 24-7 meltdown in Kansas City.

    The real question is: Can they be sorted out in 18 days, when the Rams open the regular season against Arizona?

    "Provided that we can keep what we have healthy, with the addition of Orlando (Pace), absolutely," Martz said. "And even if Orlando's not here, we'll put out a first unit that will compete and play well."

    But at the moment:

    Left tackle Grant Williams has a sprained ankle that Martz said probably needs about a week to properly heal, although Williams may keep playing through it.

    "We're so thin at this point," Martz said. "I told him, do what you can do. If he can't (play), this is his decision and I respect him. ... There's great character in that man. He wanted to be there (against Kansas City), and I appreciate that. I'm very grateful for that."

    Williams had been wearing a protective boot around the ankle in practice but scrapped the boot in favor of extra tape against Kansas City. "The boot was causing numbness," Williams said. "The ankle wore down as the night went on. Certain movements, it didn't affect me. But whenever I had to push on it, there wasn't a lot there."

    Chris Dishman is rounding into shape at left guard but still has a way to go.

    "I think Big Dish is going to be fine," Martz said. "He's obviously a few weeks away from being ready physically. He's really out of shape, but he's light years ahead of where he was when he came in. ... He played much better (against Kansas City) than I thought he would at this point."

    The recently unretired Tom Nutten still needs a couple of weeks before he's ready to play.

    Right guard Adam Timmerman is bothered by a nagging shoulder problem, and may not practice or play Friday against Washington.

    Right tackle Scott Tercero is a preseason bright spot, even though the blitz-heavy Chiefs threw a lot at him Monday. "He probably played the best of all the offensive linemen (Monday) night," Martz said.

    The situation would improve dramatically once left tackle Pace, embroiled in a contract dispute, shows up. But when does that take place?

    "When he gets here, he gets here," Martz said. "I don't have any idea how much work he needs because I don't know what kind of shape he's in. I don't know what he's been doing. I don't know anything about him.

    "I have not talked to Orlando since the end of the season. He's not returned any calls to any of the coaches, any of the players, or anything else."

    Which basically is the same tactic Pace took one year ago.

    "I think that's what his agent wants him to do," Martz said. "Even though I understand the business, that's hard. Because you know you're thin, and you'd like to have him in."

    Bulger is OK

    Quarterback Marc Bulger's knee checked out OK after an MRI on Tuesday afternoon. Bulger has a bone bruise and his status is day-to-day, according to a team official.

    "He hit his knee on the first series" against Kansas City, Martz said. "Got twisted around. I think he got hit in the kneecap. I didn't know about it until (Tuesday) morning."

    Linebacker Tommy Polley (rotator cuff) and defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson (shoulder) have muscle strains, and also are listed as day to day.

    At his Tuesday afternoon news conference, Martz indicated that Polley could be sidelined a week or two. But further evaluation showed that the injury is not that bad. Martz said Tuesday evening that Polley, Jackson and Bulger could all be available for the Washington game.

    On a related note, Martz said Bulger and Chris Chandler probably will handle the quarterback duties the rest of the preseason, even though rookie Jeff Smoker was much improved Monday against KC compared with his performance against Chicago Aug. 12.

    Faulk will play vs. Washington

    Martz said Faulk will play "a little bit" against the Redskins. "How much, I don't know," Martz said. "We'll just kind of see what the status of everybody else is. I'd like to have Joey (Goodspeed) there in front of him."

    Goodspeed, the Rams' starting fullback, sat out the Kansas City game with a tight hamstring, but could play Friday.

    According to Martz, Faulk experienced some "natural soreness" in his right knee Tuesday. "But it's nothing like it's been in the past after practice," Martz said.

    Rams cut seven

    The Rams got a head start on the first round of roster countdowns, releasing seven players Tuesday: DT Richard Harris; WR Derek McCoy; LB Jason McWilliams; P Jesse Nicassio; TE Ryan Prince; LB Justin Smith; and WR Brian Sump. The only surprise in that group was Smith, who at one time appeared to have a chance to make the final roster.

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  • RamWraith
    by RamWraith

    Associated Press

    ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz said Tuesday he still doesn't know when - or if - offensive tackle Orlando Pace will end his holdout.

    That's because Martz hasn't heard from the five-time Pro Bowler since the end of last season.

    "I don't know what kind of shape he's in, what he's been doing," Martz said. "He has not returned any calls to our players or our coaches."

    "I think that's the business aspect through his agent; that's the hard part of it."

    The Rams certainly appear to need the help on the offensive line. The Kansas City Chiefs registered five sacks in a 24-7 preseason victory Monday night over St. Louis, and they pressured Rams quarterbacks all night.

    The line has been torn apart by injuries.

    Right tackle Kyle Turley remains out with a back injury, and his return is uncertain. Backup tackle Grant Williams played Monday despite an ankle injury and may not play Friday when the Rams, 0-2 in preseason, host the Washington Redskins. And St. Louis cut center Dave Wohlabaugh because of a hip injury.

    Things appear so dire that two veteran offensive lineman - Chris Dishman and Tom Nutten - have been lured out of retirement, and Martz said both were rounding into shape.

    He expects the line to be solid - with or without Pace - for the Sept. 12 opener at home against the Arizona Cardinals.

    "We'll put out there a first unit that can compete and play well," Martz said.

    Monday's loss was costly to more than the Rams' psyche. Cornerback Travis Fisher broke his right forearm and will have surgery Wednesday. Martz declined to guess when Fisher may return, but initial reports project that the player will miss most of the season.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger will have an MRI on a knee that was hit in the first quarter against the Chiefs, though Martz said he does not believe the injury is serious.

    Linebacker Tommy Polley suffered an arm injury and may miss up to a week of practice, Martz said.

    Notes:@ The Rams said Tuesday they have released DT Richard Harris, WR Derek McCoy, LB Jason McWilliams, P Jesse Nicassio, TE Ryan Prince, LB Justin Smtih and WR Brian Sump.
    -08-24-2004, 03:09 PM
  • RamWraith
    Painful hit on Bulger angers Martz
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    MACOMB, Ill. - The Rams' afternoon practice came to a sudden and eerily quiet halt Monday when quarterback Marc Bulger was bumped during two-minute-offense drills and wheeled away, grabbing his right arm.

    Defensive end Leonard Little charged in from the left side and shoved right tackle Greg Randall into Bulger, who doubled over and appeared to be in considerable pain as trainers hustled to his side. It turned out to be little more than a scare: A Rams official reported that Bulger suffered a mild bruise.

    "I'm fine," Bulger said later.

    Still, coach Mike Martz wasn't pleased by the close call. When asked by reporters about Bulger's status, Martz snapped: "I don't know. Hell, I'm not a doctor. It just happened 30 seconds ago. ...

    "Defensively, you've got to stop; this is our No. 1 quarterback. (Little) knocked (Randall) back into the quarterback. And the right tackle's got to do a better job of blocking. He just thinks it's a walk-through, I guess."

    Polley is told to prove himself

    Never mind that he's started 36 games in three seasons since the Rams drafted him in the second round in 2001: Linebacker Tommy Polley has been dropped to the No. 2 unit and, Martz said, will stay there until he proves that he deserves to move back up.

    "This isn't just something from a practice or a situation; this is over time," Martz said. "We've discussed this with Tommy.

    "He knows the situation, what he needs to do."

    The move was made after the Rams' 13-10 exhibition-opening loss to Chicago on Thursday. Polley, who declined an interview request Monday, was credited with two tackles. Tony Newson, who has replaced him with the first team, had three.

    Martz suggested that the switch not be over-emphasized.

    "This happens all the time in camp," he said. "We're trying combinations to see what the best combination is. We haven't settled on our final three yet, by any stretch of the imagination."

    Running back update

    Running back Marshall Faulk, recovering from offseason knee surgery, has participated in three consecutive practices for the first time since camp opened.

    Martz, who said before Thursday's game that Faulk was "not ready to play physically yet," is pleased with his progress.

    "He's taking every snap with the 1's (first unit), which is what we thought we'd do this week and see how he feels," Martz said. "Provided that there's no backward movement, he should be fine.

    "When I say that, I mean swelling or soreness, those kinds of things. We'll keep this really close to the vest and make sure that if there are any indications of that, we'll rest him."...
    -08-17-2004, 05:40 AM
  • RamWraith
    Martz, Rams tackle their problems
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Nov. 10 2004

    If he was Mad Mike on Monday, he became Really Mad Mike on Wednesday.

    The 2004 season has reached the critical-mass stage, and Mike Martz is doing
    everything he can to salvage it. Never mind the standings, the division race,
    or Sunday's NFC West showdown with Seattle. At the moment, Martz just wants the
    Rams to start playing better. A lot better.

    "I think the way we played in the last two games is embarrassing," Martz said
    Wednesday. "Not so much whether you win or lose the game - just the way we
    played the game. Period. We're going to do everything we can to rectify that."

    Including full-contact scrimmage work in practice.

    During the nine-on-seven run period, the first-team offense worked against the
    scout team defense. Then, the first-team defense worked against the scout team

    With live tackling in both sessions. Yes, the Rams engaged in some live contact
    in training camp this summer, but those drills were performed almost totally by
    backups. Wednesday's work involved starters - basically everyone but running
    back Marshall Faulk on offense, and safety Aeneas Williams on defense.

    Scrimmaging in the regular season is unheard of in today's NFL. And it was a
    first for the "St. Louis" Rams. Not even in the Dick Vermeil days of three-hour
    practices did the Rams go full-contact.

    Longtime team officials said the Rams hadn't engaged in live practice
    scrimmaging in practice since the 1980s, during John Robinson's tenure as head

    So Wednesday's work might fall under the category of desperate measures in
    desperate times. Martz wants the Rams to be more physical, and play a more
    violent brand of football. He wants them to block better. Tackle better.
    Compete better. Live tackling work in practices was a cattle prod to get that
    point across.

    "We've got a core of guys that you can hang your hat on," Martz said. "You can
    get out in the middle of the night, go out and practice them, and you're going
    to get all they've got.

    "What we're trying to do is get the rest of the guys up to that level. We were
    there for a while, and we've fallen off a little bit in a couple of key areas."

    So Wednesday's scrimmaging, coupled with Martz's message to the team Monday
    about accountability, are aimed at an attitude adjustment.

    "This is a game of attitude, pure and simple," Martz said. "It's not about
    ability. Never has been, never will be. Everybody in this league's got ability
    to play. Everybody's talented. Everybody's fast. Everybody's...
    -11-11-2004, 05:46 AM
  • RamWraith
    Martz puts Rams on notice
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Mike Martz fielded all the questions Monday about what went wrong against New England. And there was a lot of ground to cover, because obviously, a lot went wrong in the Rams' 40- 22 loss to the Patriots.

    But then totally unsolicited, he offered some thoughts about accountability. More specifically, the accountability of Rams players.

    "This is my fifth year here," Martz told reporters, referring to his 4 1/2-season tenure as Rams head coach. "You guys have been with me long enough to know, I've never tried to mislead you. Sugarcoat it. If I've screwed something up, I'll tell you.

    "You try and take a bullet (for a player) whenever you can. But there comes a time when some of these guys have just got to play. Step up and make a play. Players make plays. That's just the way it is.

    "And that's not a cop-out, or brushing it off on these guys. But I'm upset. We've got some guys that we're counting on, that have got to step up. That's the way it is."

    Martz wouldn't name names. But it's clear he has put his team on notice. He is growing increasingly frustrated over execution - or lack thereof - on the playing field. The team continues to make too many mistakes, and too few plays, on game day.

    Martz made many of these points to his players and coaches Monday during a team meeting. Right now, Martz is searching for something to jolt his team out of its current skid - a skid that includes two straight losses, but also recurring problems on special teams, on defense, and in pass-blocking.

    The sense of urgency has never been greater because if the Rams don't display a dramatic reversal of fortunes this Sunday against Seattle, the season could be all but lost.

    The Seahawks are 5-3; the Rams 4-4. If the Rams win, they pull even with Seattle record-wise at 5-4, but actually take the NFC West lead because they hold the tiebreaker edge by virtue of a 2-0 sweep in head-to-head competition.

    But if the Rams lose to Seattle, they're two games back, and face the daunting task of playing four of their next five contests on the road.

    "We just didn't play well (against New England)," Martz said. "That's not a secret. We all saw that. We've played much better in the past and I'm confident that we'll do that again."

    But how? What's the way out?

    "We understand what our problems are, and what we need to address," Martz said. "And there may be some personnel changes."

    But eight games into the season, it's not like Martz and the Rams can reinvent the wheel. The 53-man roster is what it is, and there's not much left on the streets.

    So it looks like Chris Dishman will continue to start at left guard and Grant Williams will continue...
    -11-09-2004, 05:25 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