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  • Rams Ready to Roll

    Sunday, September 5, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    With the end of the preseason comes new hope and new beginnings for every team in the NFL. The haves and have-nots will soon be separated, but for now, there isn’t a team in the league that isn’t dreaming of holding the Lombardi Trophy.

    The Rams concluded their preseason with a 1-3 record, but decidedly performed better in each of the last two games, building momentum toward Sunday’s preseason opener against Arizona at the Edward Jones Dome.

    The first-team offense was particularly sharp against Oakland, as quarterback Marc Bulger and Marshall Faulk, in their only drive of the night, moved the ball 75 yards on just six plays for a touchdown. Satisfied with the performance of two of the team’s most important cogs, coach Mike Martz ended their nights there.

    Martz said he is pleased with the direction of the team heading into the season.

    “I feel good where we are, I really do,” Martz said. “The areas we wanted to get better (we did). I am very excited about the play of the quarterbacks. Losing (CB Travis) Fisher has hurt us to some extent, but we should be fine back there.”

    INJURY UPDATE: Torry Holt was in street clothes against Oakland on Thursday night as a precautionary measure for back spasms. Martz said Friday that he expects Holt to be fine and he didn’t want to take any chances with Holt or Isaac Bruce.

    Preseason games can usually be categorized as a success if you can leave with few injuries. For that reason, Thursday’s game was an unqualified success for the Rams. Cameron Cleeland suffered a mild sprained left ankle. The injury comes after Cleeland battled a hamstring injury throughout camp and then was in a car accident near Rams Park.

    None of the adversity has affected Cleeland’s performance, though. In his first extended time after returning, Cleeland finished with 72 yards on four catches, one for a touchdown.

    Martz said Cleeland’s effort throughout the preseason is deserving of high admiration.

    “He is really playing very well,” Martz said. “I can’t praise him enough.”

    The only other injury suffered was to rookie tight end Erik Jensen. He had a mild strain of his left knee while trying to score a touchdown late in the game. Jensen missed about two weeks during training camp with a similar injury.

    The bumps and bruises on the offensive line also appear to be clearing up, according to Martz. Left guard Chris Dishman (ankle) and Tom Nütten (turf toe) did not play against Oakland, but Martz said he expects to have both players back for the opener. Dishman is likely to start.

    Kevin Curtis, who has missed time with shin splints, caught a pair of passes for 33 yards. Martz said Curtis’ shin splints would be a day-by-day thing.

    CUT DAY: The Rams must cut their roster to the final 53 by Sunday, but could do it anytime before. The team used most of Thursday night’s game to get a good look at some people who were on the bubble and Martz said the staff began the evaluation process Friday morning.

    “We spent the morning trying to get a sense of what the cuts will be and what are needs are going to be and any other possible things we need to do,” Martz said.

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  • RamDez
    Martz pleased with Rams' running attack
    by RamDez
    Martz pleased with Rams' running attack
    Admits he lost track of score against Raiders

    BY STEVE KORTE
    [email protected]

    ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz was pleased with what his team accomplished in the preseason -- especially in showing that it could effectively run the ball -- despite winning only one of their four games.

    The Rams rushed for 480 yards -- an average of 120 yards per game -- in their four preseason contests.

    The Rams gained 171 yards on the ground in their 28-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.

    "I feel good with where we are, I really do," Martz said. "The area where we wanted to get better was running the football, and we made a big emphasis on that the last few games.

    "Regardless of who was in the game, we wanted to run the football."

    The Rams were 30th among the NFL's 32 teams in rushing offense last season. They averaged only 93.5 rushing yards per game and only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt.

    "Running the football well was a big deal to me in the off-season," Martz said. "We were not an effective team running the football. We give a lot of attention to our passing game, but we've always been able to run the ball very effectively, and last year we didn't do that.

    "We have to get back to doing some of the things that are basic to this offense."

    Running back Marshall Faulk had only four carries for 11 yards against the Raiders. He also had two receptions for 20 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown reception.

    Martz said he has seen enough of Faulk in his limited play in the preseason to feel he's close to being his old self after a series of knee problems.

    "I was really impressed with Marshall last night," Martz said. "He's got his juice, boy. When he was in there, they were coming after us with safeties and linebackers, they didn't want him to get going.

    "He was very physical running up in there. He made some big plays -- both of those passes, the check-down on third down, and of course, the touchdown -- he looks terrific to me."

    Rookie Steven Jackson rushed for 72 yards on 12 carries, while Lamar Gordon rushed for 77 yards on 22 carries in his first action of the preseason.

    Gordon underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his ankle last month.

    "That's the first time that he has been hit or put the pads on for four weeks," Martz said. "To go and take the ball up in there like he did ... he took some horrendous hits there out on the edge and spun and jumped and twisted and turned and stayed in the game.

    "I was very impressed with his toughness and the burst he had and the acceleration he showed."

    Martz admitted that he mistakenly thought...
    -09-05-2004, 05:57 AM
  • RamDez
    Martz reflects: Rams on the bubble may be in trouble
    by RamDez
    Martz reflects: Rams on the bubble may be in trouble
    By Jim Thomas

    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/14/2004




    MACOMB, Ill. - Mike Martz looked downright sour after the game Thursday. He barely said anything to his team in the locker room. He answered only a handful of questions in his postgame news conference. And then he retired to the privacy of his locker room area at the Edward Jones Dome to stew over the Rams' 13-10 overtime loss to Chicago.

    "Down deep inside, you can play marbles, and my blood's going to get going," Martz said Saturday. "I mean, you just compete."

    For most of the first three quarters Thursday, the Rams did just that. It wasn't always pretty. But the Rams were winning 10-3, and when the Bears took over at their 12 late in the third quarter, St. Louis had a 248 to 161 edge in yards gained.

    "I felt like we were in control," Martz said. "They had a couple big runs where we just overran things. Otherwise, I think we shut them down really good. And I know that first group in there on offense - I think they're ready to roll."

    In a game that Chicago seemed to treat a lot more like a regular-season contest - with lots of blitzing on defense and some trick plays on offense - the Rams still appeared to be headed for victory.

    But then it unraveled over the rest of regulation and the 17 seconds of overtime, when the Rams were mainly using players who either won't make the team or will be down on the depth chart.

    "I knew what was going on out there, and it's hard to bite the bullet sometimes," Martz said. "But I just don't like to lose. ... But I also know that it's my responsibility as a head coach to make sure that we have an opportunity to evaluate all these (young) guys in these types of situations."

    So Martz and new defensive coordinator Larry Marmie kept things basic - and watched.

    "We've got to know about these guys," Martz said. "You can't trick things up. You've got to kind of keep it simple and just let 'em play and see what they do."

    By early Saturday evening, after film review and with nearly two days to digest the game, the big picture was back in focus for Martz. And he felt much better about what transpired Thursday night.

    "All in all, I was very pleased, particularly in the first half with both groups (offense and defense)," Martz said. "I'm happy with this football team. I'm happy with the first (units) that I know we're going to play with."

    On the offensive line, he singled out the play of right guard Adam Timmerman and right tackle Scott Tercero for praise.

    "Scotty Tercero has really come to the forefront," Martz said. "He has really, really done well in the last few weeks. I hate to admit this:
    ...
    -08-15-2004, 02:11 AM
  • RamWraith
    Offensive line is in rough shape
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/24/2004
    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."
    ...
    -08-25-2004, 06:44 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
    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, 06:14 AM
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