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  • Rams are losing now to win later

    Rams are losing now to win later
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Aug. 31 2004

    One of the reasons for Grant Williams' improved play this preseason is that he
    is carrying around 30 fewer pounds.

    "I definitely feel like I'm moving better laterally," Williams said. "There's a
    lot less pressure on my back. I just feel better overall. The joints,
    everything, feels better."

    With that in mind, Williams is doing what he can to help teammate Chris Dishman
    fight the battle of the bulge. For instance, when Williams sees Dishman
    reaching for that extra roll at lunchtime at Rams Park ...

    "We split it," Williams joked. "We're just sharing it right now."

    Williams and Dishman are kindred spirits beyond dieting and nutrition. It is
    looking more and more like they will be opening day starters on a revamped
    offensive line. All five starters on the line were expected to return this
    season, but the depth chart changed in a hurry once camp started.

    "Just a few months ago we (thought), 'Yeah, everything should be intact,'"
    offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "But that changed in a matter of a couple
    weeks."

    Hip problems led to the release of center Dave Wohlabaugh, who may retire.
    Continuing back problems put right tackle Kyle Turley on the injured reserve
    list, ending his season. Throw in left tackle Orlando Pace's continued absence
    in a contract impasse, and it's been a tumultuous preseason for the line.

    "Each year's different," offensive line coach John Matsko said. "The challenge
    this year was to bring a bunch of guys together - we brought two guys out of
    retirement - and develop the continuity, the unity, and the pride that you need
    to have on an offensive line. It's an ongoing process."

    The development of Dishman and Williams has helped that process. Williams has
    spent most of the preseason at left tackle, which is Pace's position. But on
    Monday and Tuesday, Williams practiced at right tackle, his position once Pace
    shows up.

    Left or right doesn't matter to Williams.

    "I've made a career out of going back and forth," said Williams, a nine-year
    NFL veteran in his third year with St. Louis. "So at this point, it's not a big
    deal."

    The big deal is that Williams has a chance to be a full-time starter for the
    first time since 1999, the last of his four seasons in Seattle. Last preseason,
    Williams did the heavy lifting at left tackle until Pace reported, suffering a
    back injury in the process. But once Pace reported, Williams returned to the
    bench.

    It looked like the same thing would happen this summer. Then Turley aggravated
    his back injury.

    "All you can do is work hard, and see what happens," Williams said. "If you get
    an injury, that's part of the deal. If an All-Pro tackle (Pace) comes in and
    plays, then that's part of the deal, too."

    Williams played with an ankle injury against Kansas City and Washington.

    "There's no way Grant should have played against Kansas City," Matsko said.
    "But he didn't want to let the guys down. 'Dish' was the same way Friday night.
    He wasn't coming out."

    Dishman suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter against Washington but
    kept playing at left guard.

    Coach Mike Martz said Williams played his best game of the exhibition season
    against Washington. As for Dishman, Martz said, "He took a significant step up.
    He played exceptionally well in that game."

    When Dishman ended his retirement and reported to camp on Aug. 5, he weighed
    376 pounds, about 40 pounds more than his preferred playing weight.

    He has already dropped about 20 pounds.

    In the span of five days last week, he played into the fourth quarter against
    Kansas City and played the entire game against Washington.

    "Conditioning's not a factor for him now - in terms of lasting a game and
    playing," Martz said. "Here's a guy that's a seven-, eight-year pro ... and he
    sprained his ankle and didn't want to come out because he felt like he needed
    the work. Go count the number of guys in the NFL that will do that."

    Dishman said, "I definitely needed to go out and see where I was at. I wanted
    to make sure I could finish the game. Conditioning-wise, I felt all right out
    there."

    Dishman has been held out of practice so far this week to rest the ankle, and
    may not play Thursday in Oakland. But the injury is not considered serious.

    How has he been able to bounce back from retirement so quickly?

    "I don't know," Dishman said. "They're working me out pretty good here, and I'm
    doing a lot of cardio, a lot of conditioning. Watching what I eat, stuff like
    that."

    And staying away from those extra rolls.

    * * * * * * *

    Projected Rams Starting Line

    The Rams' probable starting offensive line once Orlando Pace returns from a
    contract holdout:

    C: Andy McCollum
    RG: Adam Timmerman
    RT: Grant Williams
    LG: Chris Dishman
    LT: Orlando Pace

    Note: Williams will play left tackle and Scott Tercero right tackle
    until Pace returns.

  • #2
    Re: Rams are losing now to win later

    "Each year's different," offensive line coach John Matsko said. "The challenge this year was to bring a bunch of guys together - we brought two guys out of
    retirement - and develop the continuity, the unity, and the pride that you need
    to have on an offensive line. It's an ongoing process."
    Prediction - By the end of the year, Matsko is going to be hailed as one of the best asst. coaches in the league.
    "There's no way Grant should have played against Kansas City," Matsko said.
    "But he didn't want to let the guys down. 'Dish' was the same way Friday night.
    He wasn't coming out."
    This is the heart that this team has been missing. Where's my Williams jersey? Where's my Dishman jersey?
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Comment

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    • RamWraith
      Rams are losing now to win later
      by RamWraith
      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      Tuesday, Aug. 31 2004

      One of the reasons for Grant Williams' improved play this preseason is that he
      is carrying around 30 fewer pounds.

      "I definitely feel like I'm moving better laterally," Williams said. "There's a
      lot less pressure on my back. I just feel better overall. The joints,
      everything, feels better."

      With that in mind, Williams is doing what he can to help teammate Chris Dishman
      fight the battle of the bulge. For instance, when Williams sees Dishman
      reaching for that extra roll at lunchtime at Rams Park ...

      "We split it," Williams joked. "We're just sharing it right now."

      Williams and Dishman are kindred spirits beyond dieting and nutrition. It is
      looking more and more like they will be opening day starters on a revamped
      offensive line. All five starters on the line were expected to return this
      season, but the depth chart changed in a hurry once camp started.

      "Just a few months ago we (thought), 'Yeah, everything should be intact,'"
      offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "But that changed in a matter of a couple
      weeks."

      Hip problems led to the release of center Dave Wohlabaugh, who may retire.
      Continuing back problems put right tackle Kyle Turley on the injured reserve
      list, ending his season. Throw in left tackle Orlando Pace's continued absence
      in a contract impasse, and it's been a tumultuous preseason for the line.

      "Each year's different," offensive line coach John Matsko said. "The challenge
      this year was to bring a bunch of guys together - we brought two guys out of
      retirement - and develop the continuity, the unity, and the pride that you need
      to have on an offensive line. It's an ongoing process."

      The development of Dishman and Williams has helped that process. Williams has
      spent most of the preseason at left tackle, which is Pace's position. But on
      Monday and Tuesday, Williams practiced at right tackle, his position once Pace
      shows up.

      Left or right doesn't matter to Williams.

      "I've made a career out of going back and forth," said Williams, a nine-year
      NFL veteran in his third year with St. Louis. "So at this point, it's not a big
      deal."

      The big deal is that Williams has a chance to be a full-time starter for the
      first time since 1999, the last of his four seasons in Seattle. Last preseason,
      Williams did the heavy lifting at left tackle until Pace reported, suffering a
      back injury in the process. But once Pace reported, Williams returned to the
      bench.

      It looked like the same thing...
      -09-01-2004, 05:41 AM
    • RamWraith
      Williams, Tercero Ease Concerns
      by RamWraith
      Tuesday, August 31, 2004

      By Nick Wagoner
      Staff Writer

      With about two weeks until the start of the regular season, anticipation is building around Rams Park. Not for the first kickoff, but for the return of All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace.

      Pace, who has missed all of camp because of a contract stalemate, is expected to arrive at any time this week before St. Louis plays Oakland on Thursday at 9 p.m. Right tackle Kyle Turley was placed on injured reserve Saturday and will miss the season. Those pair of absences has left plenty of repetitions for other linemen to step up.

      Rams’ coach Mike Martz said he doesn’t worry about Pace’s absence, but is pleased with the performances of his pair of former backup tackles.

      “When he comes, I’ll welcome him with open arms,” Martz said. “Until then, we’ve got Grant (Williams), who is playing well and Scotty (Tercero). Whatever happens, happens, but I’m happy with the guys we have playing.”

      While the line has seen new faces in different places for most of the preseason, the backup tackles have proved to be starter-capable. Williams, who has held down Pace’s spot on the left side and Scott Tercero, who has played on the right side, have been two of the Rams’ most pleasant surprises and consistent performers.

      Williams has spent the better part of his career bouncing between the tackle positions and has made a habit of playing the role of Pace on the left side during training camp. Never satisfied to be backup, Williams worked extra hard in the offseason and shaved his weight down to 320 pounds. Williams’ 6-foot-7 frame holds the weight well and he said he notices a major difference.

      “I’ve made a career out of going back and forth, so at this point it’s not a big deal,” Williams said. “It definitely feels like I’m moving better laterally, there’s a lot less pressure on my back. Just overall, I feel better.”

      Williams, a nine-year veteran, will probably move to the right side when Pace returns, but Tercero’s improved play could provide Williams with a challenge. Williams is used to moving back and forth, but so is Tercero. Tercero’s flexibility allows him to play anywhere on the line. He played guard in college at California and center on last season’s practice squad.

      The injury bug hasn’t stayed away from Williams and Tercero, either, but the ailments have been less severe. Williams sprained his right ankle and Tercero suffered a slight concussion against Washington.

      Williams took some time to recover from the injury, which was buoyed by scar tissue from when he broke the foot two years ago, but he appears to be at full strength. He played most of the game Friday night and Martz said it was “his best game.”

      Tercero, who didn’t play at all in 2003, was forced to sit out the second half after his concussion, but is fine. He has received...
      -09-01-2004, 05:43 AM
    • RamWraith
      Where's Pace-SI
      by RamWraith
      ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Now that the curtain has fallen on right tackle Kyle Turley's season before it even began, Grant Williams and the rest of the St. Louis Rams' offensive line could find solace Monday in at least one thing: One huge distraction down, one more to go.

      In a preseason that has resembled a soap opera in terms of the Rams' blockers, the nagging question now is when, and if, five-time All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace will end his holdout, perhaps even in time for the Rams' preseason finale Thursday at Oakland.

      Stay tuned.

      "Just from a team standpoint, it'd be nice to get what looks like would be the starting five out there for a quarter or a half against Oakland, just get some time together as a unit before we go into the season," Williams said Monday, two days after the Rams placed Turley on injured reserve because of his ailing back.

      Turley, among the NFL's steadiest linemen throughout his six seasons, started every game in 2003 after joining the Rams in an offseason trade with New Orleans.

      But when he reinjured his surgically repaired back in late July and left training camp Aug. 1 to visit doctors, coach Mike Martz _ already dealing with the no-show Pace -- had to piece together an offensive line, even luring veterans Chris Dishman and Tom Nutten out of retirement.

      Martz waited for word from Turley on the prognosis about his back. Then on Saturday -- a day after the Rams' offensive line held the Washington Redskins at bay in a 28-3 preseason victory -- Martz finally declared Turley's season was history.

      "I talked to Kyle today, and he was very vague about his plans," Martz said. When quizzed about the significance of losing Turley, he added without elaborating: "I'm happy with the guys we have."

      Turley's agent, Tom Condon, did not return telephone messages left Monday. Messages also were left with Pace's agent, Carl Poston.

      So it goes in what a Rams staffer quipped Monday was the latest in "As the World Turns," with Williams -- a nine-year veteran filling in for Pace -- perhaps playing Turley's role if Pace agrees to a one-year tender offer as the team's designated franchise player and returns.

      "It'll be nice when he reports," said Dishman, a 350-pound guard nursing a right ankle he rolled in the first quarter against the Redskins, though he went on to play the entire game. "It'd be nice to get some work in with him. But his thing is his thing, and when he comes in he comes in."

      Williams' advice to Pace: Get back sooner rather than later, certainly before the Rams' Sept. 12 opener at home against Arizona.

      "I know if I was in that situation I would want to play in the last preseason game and get ready for the season," Williams said, convinced Pace would benefit from getting some reps -- and...
      -08-30-2004, 03:07 PM
    • RamDez
      Grant Williams maintains role in place of Pace
      by RamDez
      Grant Williams maintains role in place of Pace
      By Bill Coats
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      08/08/2004




      MACOMB, Ill. - Like an understudy on Broadway, Grant Williams needs to know the lead role inside and out. And yet he has to be prepared to step aside when the star shows up.

      In this case, the star is All-Pro tackle Orlando Pace. With Pace again skipping training camp because of a contract dispute, Williams is playing the same part he did last year: filling in on the left side until Pace shows up.

      Williams, 6 feet 7 and 320 pounds, says he doesn't mind the job.

      "You have to do what got you to the NFL, just work hard and do what they tell you to do and let the cards fall where they may," he said. "It'd be different if I had to give my spot up for someone who was not a quality player. But 'O' is one of the best tackles in the game, so he's got to be out there. Hopefully we'll get him in sooner rather than later so he can get some work and go from there."

      Williams' plight isn't as bleak as it might seem. He can play both tackle spots, and with right tackle Kyle Turley fearful that the reoccurrence of pain in his surgically repaired back could signal a serious condition, Williams might wind up with a starting job after all.

      That wouldn't bother coach Mike Martz.

      "This is the best he's looked since he's been here, for sure," Martz said. "He doesn't make any errors; he's a very solid player. If he's going to play, I'd be very pleased with him. I can't tell you how fortunate we are to have him here."


      -08-09-2004, 04:07 PM
    • RamWraith
      A homecoming brews for Williams
      by RamWraith
      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      10/06/2004


      It was Seattle that gave Grant Williams his first cup of coffee in the NFL - and his first cup of Starbucks.

      "That's fairly addictive," Williams said, speaking of the coffee brand, not the Seahawks. "That is where I got hooked on it. It tastes a little better there."

      This season, Williams is getting a taste of what it's like to be a full-time starter for the first time in his nine NFL seasons. The closest he had come previously was the 1999 season in Seattle, when he took over in Week 2 and started 15 times for coach Mike Holmgren's first Seahawks squad.

      Because of Kyle Turley's season-ending back injury, Williams has been the starter at right tackle from Game 1 for St. Louis. This far along in his career, it's obviously a pleasant development. In his two previous seasons with the Rams, Williams had only three starts - all in 2002 at left tackle when Orlando Pace was sidelined with a calf injury.

      "It has been fun to be out there," Williams said. "It's nice to be more sore on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It has been rewarding, but at the same time, I'm a team guy and if you can't win the games, it's all for naught anyway. We're 2-0 in the division and going into a big game. This is a week that means a lot."

      Williams spent his first four seasons with Seattle, after signing with the club as an undrafted rookie out of Louisiana Tech in 1996. The Seahawks liked his size (6-7, 300 pounds), and thought he had some potential. But when he became eligible for free agency following the '99 season, retaining him wasn't a high priority for the Seahawks.

      "It was a great group of guys," Williams said. "Good character. It seemed like we were always around .500. And then the first year when Holmgren got there, we won the division and made the playoffs. Which was a huge deal for Seattle - it was the first time they'd done that in forever. So it was a good time."

      Williams signed a two-year, $1.9 million contract with New England following the 1999 season. He spent two seasons with the Patriots, earning a Super Bowl ring for their victory over the Rams, then was traded to St. Louis in August 2002.

      Williams missed the Rams' 2002 game in Seattle because of an ankle and leg injury. He played only on special teams there last season in a 24-23 Rams loss. So Sunday's game marks Williams' first game in Seattle as a starter since that '99 season.

      "It was a good four years there," Williams said. "A couple of 'O-linemen' are still there. A couple guys on defense are still there. I still know a lot of the upstairs guys. So it does mean a lot."

      It will mean a lot more for the Rams if Williams can keep Seattle defensive end Chike Okeafor away from Marc Bulger and the Rams'...
      -10-07-2004, 06:44 AM
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