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  • Rams Begin Prep for Washington

    hursday, August 26, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    After a couple days of consistently bad news, the Rams got some good news Tuesday night. Quarterback Marc Bulger had an MRI on his left knee Tuesday, but the results came back the way he hoped, revealing there was no damage. Had Bulger suffered a serious injury, it would have been the next in an extensive line of blows for the Rams in the preseason.

    Kyle Turley’s back remains a question, Dave Wohlabaugh was released because of a hip injury, Jimmy Kennedy broke his foot and Travis Fisher broke his right forearm. None of that would compare to a Bulger injury that would cause him to miss an extended period. Fortunately for the Rams, it appears they have little to worry about in Bulger’s case.

    Bulger said his knee is going to be fine. “It’s good,” Bulger said. “We just had an MRI just because we didn’t have the extra time to evaluate it after a day or two. With the short week, we just wanted to get a quicker diagnosis. I think you can usually tell when you’re injured, but I think it was just more precautionary.” Bulger said his knee was sore and he might be limited with running in the next few days, but he expects to play against Washington on Friday night.

    Coach Mike Martz said Tuesday that Bulger was spun around and might have been hit on the kneecap when he was sacked in the first half against Kansas City on Monday night. Bulger played the entire first half before calling it a night. In his stint, Bulger was eight-of-15 for 67 yards and an interception. The Chiefs blitzed more than most teams in the preseason, taking advantage of St. Louis’ patchwork offensive line and sacking Bulger three times.

    The protection must pick up blitzes better against Washington to ensure that Bulger stays healthy and the offense gets going. St. Louis has scored 17 points in its first two preseason games. Bulger said he can’t worry about anything but his own performance. “I think it’s pretty obvious we need to put the ball in the endzone,” Bulger said. “They are doing a fine job. I have got to shore up some of my own business. It’s not for me to worry about everyone else. The bottom line is we are not getting it done. “We could make a million excuses, but the bottom line is if we had 10 plays we should be able to score.”

    NEW BEGINNINGS: Cornerbacks Kevin Garrett and DeJuan Groce began their first day of practice as Fisher’s potential replacements. Martz said Fisher had surgery Wednesday and there was no nerve damage. Groce has missed time because he sprained his left knee on Aug. 18, and he resumed running Wednesday.

    Replacing an injured player is not new to Groce, who was in a similar situation in 2003. Fisher strained his groin against Green Bay on Oct. 19 and Groce came in to replace him. The next week against Pittsburgh, Groce made his first career start in Fisher’s stead.

    Groce performed well against the Steelers, making a pair of tackles and snatching his first interception in the fourth quarter. He is looking forward to getting another opportunity to make a difference. “I’m hoping to play Friday, but I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Groce said. “There’s always been an urgency, but there is more of an urgency now. It’s exciting to know you’ve got an opportunity. This is one of our chances to go out there and perform.”

    Garrett, meanwhile, has been healthy all through training camp after missing time in 2003 with a broken wrist. His pure speed makes him a top candidate to step in and contribute in Fisher’s place. Garrett and Groce started for Fisher and Jerametrius Butler, who were struggling with hamstring tightness, against Chicago in the first preseason game, getting some valuable experience, but this time it will be different, for both young corners will be competing for a starting job with more long-term implications.

    Garrett said he hopes to take advantage of his opportunity against the Redskins. “Of course I want to go out there and do good so I can prove myself so I can relieve the burden off myself and let everybody relax a little bit to let them know I am capable of taking the job,” Garrett said.

    With the inexperience of Garrett and Groce, it is obvious to them that they could be picked on by opposing quarterbacks. Butler will hold down his position on one side and, after a solid campaign in 2003, should only be better this season. That makes the young corners prime targets in coverage. “We expect that, I mean, we are young, we are new,” Garrett said. “They haven’t seen us much plus they are going to try to test us, but I mean if you go out there and hold your own it will be like anybody else. You’ve got to earn your respect.”

    DISHMAN PROGRESSES: Guard Chris Dishman has made considerable progress since arriving at training camp weighing 375 pounds. Dishman immediately took on a serious diet, dropping 21 pounds in about two weeks to get to the svelte 354 he weighs now.

    He said Wednesday that he needs to drop another 20 or so pounds to get to the point where he can play at his best. “It’s only been two week since I came into camp, so it’s still going to take a couple more weeks,” Dishman said. “The wind and everything was there, it’s just I’m slower moving off the ball than I’m used to. I think that has to do with being overweight and not working out since May. “I need to get down another 15-20 pounds and I don’t know how long that is going to take. The first 20 would be easy, but I’m not sure what the next 20 will be like.”

    Dishman started at left guard against Kansas City and played 51 snaps before his night ended. He came to the Rams from Arizona early in training camp, and after the injury to Wohlabaugh, became an instant contender for the starting spot at left guard vacated by center Andy McCollum. Dishman said the injuries along the line make it important for the offensive line to begin to jell. “We only have like a week and a half of training camp left and then we’re ready to roll,” Dishman said. “We have to iron it out and click. I think we can get it done. We have to get it done.”

    INJURY UPDATES: A few Rams returned to full-time 11-on-11 action Wednesday. Nütten, who wasn’t injured, but had not played since signing with the Rams last week, took part in team drills and will probably play Friday. Martz said he is ready to get a look at Nütten. “He’s up in weight, he’s gaining his strength back and he feels good,” Martz said. “I’m anxious to get him in the game and play him a little bit.”

    Tight end Cameron Cleeland, who missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury and was shaken up Saturday night in a car accident, returned to team drills and moved well. Robert Cromartie, who didn’t make it out of the first day of training camp healthy, did some running and wore pads and a helmet for the first time. Fullback Joey Goodspeed is also recovering well from his hamstring injury.

    Perhaps the best injury news came in the form of running back Lamar Gordon, who joined Groce in some running. Gordon had surgery on his left foot a few weeks ago and appears to be ahead of schedule for his return. Martz said Gordon was thrilled to be doing any kind of work after dealing with the injury since his junior year at North Dakota State.
    “He’s coming along real well,” Martz said. “He had a smile on his face from ear to ear.” That left the only bystanders as Jimmy Kennedy (broken right ankle), Jeremy Phillips (neck) and Adam Timmerman (shoulder).

  • #2
    Re: Rams Begin Prep for Washington

    Has it crossed anyone else's mind that once Gordon is again healthy he becomes great trade bait? I thought I had heard his name several times when teams like Miami mentioned trading for and RB with experience?
    This space for rent...


    • #3
      Re: Rams Begin Prep for Washington

      Maybe; we could use a CB, a OG and OT. I doubt if Miami would have anyone good they'd be willing to part with.

      Adm. William "Bull" Halsey


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      • RamWraith
        Garrett is eager to prove he can fill in for Fisher
        by RamWraith
        By Bill Coats
        Of the Post-Dispatch
        Wednesday, Aug. 25 2004

        While cornerback Travis Fisher had surgery on his broken right forearm
        Wednesday, Kevin Garrett was busy trying to show that he is worthy of replacing
        Fisher in the Rams' lineup.

        "I want to do well so I can prove myself and let everybody relax a little bit,
        let them know I'm capable of taking the job," Garrett said before practice at
        Rams Park. Although coach Mike Martz reported that the operation went "very
        well; there wasn't any damage to any of the nerves," Fisher is expected to be
        sidelined three to four months.

        Barring a personnel move, Garrett and DeJuan Groce, when he recovers from a
        strained knee, are the primary candidates to fill Fisher's spot. Both are
        second-year players, the 5-foot-10, 194-pound Garrett from Southern Methodist
        and the 5-10, 192-pound Groce from Nebraska. Groce started one game last year,
        which is one more than Garrett.

        Still, Groce said: "We're real confident. That's what they drafted us for. If
        anybody goes down, we have to be prepared to go in. You've just got to be
        ready. You never know what's going to happen."

        Garrett got the call when Fisher was injured late in the first quarter Monday
        night at Kansas City. Garrett was credited with one tackle in a 24-7 loss that
        dropped the Rams' preseason record to 0-2 heading into Friday night's meeting
        with Washington (2-1) at the Edward Jones Dome.

        "When I found that he'd broken his arm, it got to me that I'd have to go in
        there and step up," Garrett said. "He and (Jerametrius Butler, the other
        first-team corner) had been nursing some hamstring issues during camp, and
        myself and Groce got the chance to get some reps in camp and start in the
        Chicago game (Aug. 12). So that gave me a place to start and see where I was.

        "I feel right now like I'm ready to step in and take over for Fish and
        hopefully do my part."

        Groce ran outside while the team practiced inside Wednesday and said he expects
        to be ready to go soon. "There was always an urgency, because you just want to
        get back. It doesn't feel right, sitting on the sideline and watching your
        teammates out there," he said. "Now, there's more of an urgency."

        Bulger bruises knee

        Quarterback Marc Bulger, who took a shot to his left knee against the Chiefs,
        participated in Wednesday's non-contact practice. He said that "unless I'm told
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        "He's got a little bone bruise in there. It's annnoying, but certainly it's
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        -08-26-2004, 06:31 AM
      • RamDez
        Bulger Among the Best at Quarterback
        by RamDez
        Bulger Among the Best at Quarterback
        Saturday, October 2, 2004

        By Nick Wagoner
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        Lost in all of the worries and warts in St. Louis’ past two games is one extremely encouraging development.

        Quarterback Marc Bulger has emerged as one of the league’s best quarterbacks, ranking third in passing yards (915) and seventh in rating (94.7). After a solid outing against Arizona in the opener, Bulger had a good game against Atlanta. This past weekend against New Orleans his effort showed he could be making the move to the next level.

        Rams’ coach Mike Martz said Bulger is starting to embrace his role as a leader of the team.

        “He has always had that moniker, if you will, of being a guy that would do whatever it takes to win the game, that’s just part of it,” Martz said. “Making a great throw, moving around, scrambling, whatever it takes to win a game and having the presence of mind to do that is very important. I know he is quiet, and you don’t know him like I do, but he’s very competitive and tough.”

        Bulger threw the ball all over the field against the Saints, hitting passes long and short, racking up 358 passing yards and a touchdown. The yardage total was the third highest of his career, but it was what he did with his legs that made him stand out.

        On a play that could someday be remembered as one of his defining moments, Bulger darted up the seam of the New Orleans’ defense to score from 19 yards out and give the Rams the lead with 28 seconds to play.

        “I think he is playing exceptionally well,” Martz said. “His decisions, his check-downs, taking off at the end of the game and getting the ball in the end zone, he is getting better, better and better. I’m very pleased with him.

        “There has been significant progress over the first few games. I really thought in the first few games, the stress that we talk about wore on him a little and maybe it did. But he has been shaking that off really well, and he’s on his way now. I’m very impressed with how he has played.”

        TER’IN IT UP: Scott Tercero emerged in the preseason as one of the Rams’ most valuable players.

        Tercero was drafted in 2003 as a guard out of California, but since arriving in the NFL, he has become the utility man of the offensive line. He spent time in the preseason at tackle with Orlando Pace gone and Kyle Turley hurt. Then, Adam Timmerman and Chris Dishman battled some injury problems, causing Tercero to move back to guard. He has also spent some time in practice at center.

        All of that paled in comparison to the task he was handed on Sept. 26. Dishman left the New Orleans game with an ankle injury and Tercero stepped in. The Saints’ defensive line came after him with everything it had and Tercero held up.

        “He really did a good job,” Martz said. “I was so pleased with him. He was able to pass things...
        -10-02-2004, 11:40 PM
      • RamWraith
        USA Today's Inside Slant
        by RamWraith
        Rams coach Mike Martz issued an apology for sometimes questioning the toughness of running back Lamar Gordon, who underwent surgery Aug. 10 to remove a bone chip from his ankle. Other coaches had also questioned Gordon's ability to play with pain, considering he had complained of ankle problems since joining the Rams in 2002.

        Said Martz, "He has had that for as long as we have had him. The thing that's remarkable about him, is that I didn't know how tough he was. I'm embarrassed and ashamed of my attitude towards it. When a guy is (complaining of pain), you've just got to trust what he's telling you. And this is one of the times in my career, I feel humiliated and feel stupid. I owe him an apology, because he certainly is very tough. We MRIed it. We did X-rays. They did every diagnostic test they could and finally there was a little irregularity in there. You couldn't see it, but because of the consistent complaint, just to look at it. I owe him an apology because he is very tough.

        "We just didn't know because there wasn't any swelling. When there is no swelling in the ankle and you have a lot of pain, we were wondering what was wrong. You know he has character and he is a tough kid. He's so talented. Look at what he has done on that bad ankle. We all got excited about him with the bad ankle. He might be pretty good without the bad ankle, don't you think?"

        Gordon said the frustration was always building and he knew coaches were questioning him.

        "We did all these tests, and they didn't find anything," Gordon said. "So I'm really thinking, 'I'm making this up myself.' It really flared up as camp went on. I was watching myself on film (of practice), and I was looking terrible. I was hurting so bad, I knew something was wrong. I couldn't even take it any more."

        This was one of those cases where the player was grateful an injury was found.

        "I'm just excited to go through the surgery process, get this healed up, and move on and play some ball," Gordon said.

        He was walking around camp with a boot, and was already feeling better.

        "I can pretty much walk around without it, but they're worried about my ankle swelling up, and splitting the stitches," Gordon said. "Because there's no pain when I walk."

        After the surgery Aug. 10, it was said Gordon would be out four weeks. That would project to Sept. 7, five days before the team's season opener against Arizona.

        He hopes to be ready for the opener, but knows he has to be patient.

        "I'm going to push myself, but at the same time, it's still surgery," he said. "You've got to let the body heal from it. It was nothing like reconstructive surgery or anything. So that's not the problem. Everything in there, I think, is fine. It's just actually the cut, and the muscle they had...
        -08-23-2004, 06:34 AM
      • RamWraith
        Fisher's injury puts secondary in tough spot
        by RamWraith
        By Jim Thomas
        Of the Post-Dispatch

        After bumpy rookie seasons, cornerbacks DeJuan Groce and Kevin Garrett felt much more at home in their second NFL training camp.

        "You can see that confidence building in them," secondary coach Perry Fewell said last week, before the team broke from Macomb, Ill. "I think they're much more comfortable and not as anxious as they were a year ago."

        That confidence and "comfort" will be put to the test after Travis Fisher suffered a fractured forearm in Monday's preseason game in Kansas City. Fisher is scheduled to have surgery today.

        Immediately after the game, coach Mike Martz indicated that Fisher could be lost for the season. He softened that stance somewhat on Tuesday, but it's clear Fisher is out for an extended period.

        "No one really completely knows when we'll get him back," Martz said. "You can be very optimistic and talk about eight to 10 weeks, and then very pessimistic and say three to four months. ...We're not going to put him on IR (injured reserve) at this point."

        But the bottom line remains the same. Fisher, an up-and-coming cornerback, will be hard to replace - and Groce or Garrett will be the replacement. "They've both had very good camps," Martz said. "In fact, Kevin had a better camp than I would have thought. He had the furthest to go, just in his skills and his background. He didn't have the discipline.

        "DeJuan was a little bit more refined. And I thought Kevin caught up pretty good in camp. In fact, I was hard-pressed to determine which one had the edge."

        Groce normally is Fisher's backup, but Garrett has stepped into that role since Groce suffered a knee injury last week in Macomb. The injury occurred while Groce was planting in coverage against Torry Holt.

        Martz said Groce is close to coming back, but may not be ready to go until the preseason finale Sept. 2 in Oakland.

        "I think the swelling is out of the knee pretty good at this point," Martz said. "It's not as sore. ... It's a day-to-day thing. But if he's not ready, he's not ready."

        Even after Fisher's injury, the Rams don't want to rush Groce back against Washington on Friday, or against Oakland. It's the regular-season opener Sept. 12 against Arizona that counts.

        "Everything is about getting ready for that opener, and that's what we have to keep in mind," Martz said.

        Groce was the team's third cornerback last season, and occasionally got thrown into some tough situations - like that start against Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress and the Pittsburgh Steelers in October when Fisher was sidelined with a strained groin.

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        -08-25-2004, 05:40 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