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Monday Notebook: Pace Back in Fold

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  • Monday Notebook: Pace Back in Fold

    Monday, September 6, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Subtract 12 from 65, place two more on the injured list, add a veteran safety and a “Big O,” and what do you get? It isn’t rocket science, but the answer isn’t negative 13. That’s because the “Big O” isn’t a zero, but Orlando Pace, the Rams’ Pro Bowl left tackle. His addition is St. Louis’ biggest, literally and figuratively, of the preseason.

    The correct answer is the completion of the Rams’ final 53-man roster. The roster can change at anytime as the team scours the waiver wire for possible additions and alterations. Rams’ coach Mike Martz said the roster turnover is a natural part of the way the league is today.

    “Unfortunately, you just can’t afford to hang on to some of these guys,” Martz said. “You try to keep people that you think are the core players. That’s just the way the league is. Everybody’s in the same boat.”

    After receiving the team’s franchise tag for the third straight year and sitting out all of the preseason, Pace signed his one-year tender for about $7.02 million Sunday night.

    Pace’s return has been long awaited after injuries decimated the offensive line throughout camp. Right tackle Kyle Turley was placed on injured reserve on Aug. 28 because of a back injury. In addition, the Rams released center Dave Wohlabaugh after he failed to pass a physical because of complications from a hip injury.

    Those injuries and Pace’s absence left the Rams with a thin offensive line throughout the preseason, with many of their starting linemen playing out of position. Pace’s arrival means Grant Williams will move from left to right tackle, where he played against Oakland in Thursday night’s final preseason game.

    Pace, who was listed at 6-foot-7, 325 pounds, is likely to play in Sunday’s opener against Arizona at the Edward Jones Dome. In years past, Pace has made it to camp in time to play in at least one preseason game and get his conditioning up. He reported to camp in better shape than before, according to Martz.

    “We’re always glad to have Orlando back,” Martz said. “He came in to camp 16 pounds underneath what he did last year. He has obviously trained very well and prepared himself to come to camp. Watching him out here in practice he was a little rusty with some things, but he looks pretty good.”

    Pace did look to be almost svelte in his body composition. He also looked to be conditioned fairly well. On one play in a one-on-one drill, Pace pancaked defensive end Anthony Hargrove with the kind of power that helped Pace create the statistic for pancake blocks.

    The line, which has, at times, started Scott Tercero, Greg Randall and Andy King, looks like it might have solidified with Pace’s addition. The likely line features Pace and Williams at the tackles, Chris Dishman at LG, Adam Timmerman at RG, and Andy McCollum at center. Dishman is the only new member on the line. Williams enters his third season with the Rams, but his first as a starter.

    Pace wasn’t the only familiar face arriving at Rams Park over the weekend. This face, though, was familiar from his time with one of the Rams’ biggest rivals.

    Zack Bronson, a safety who played for San Francisco for seven years, signed Sunday. Bronson will now take some time to have his ***** leanings removed from his mind and said he is excited is excited that he doesn’t have to go against the Rams’ receivers anymore.

    “Having competed against them (St. Louis) after seven years in San Francisco, I am happy to be on this side of the ball,” Bronson said.

    Bronson started 43 games in his time with the *****, but injuries to his left foot, shoulder and neck, have limited his time on the field the past two years. San Francisco released him on June 2.

    Martz said Bronson is a guy the team eyed during Bronson’s time in San Francisco.

    “Last year, I think he had three injuries and kind of struggled,” Martz said. “Up to that point, he had played at a very high level. I’m very pleased to have him.”

    PRACTICE SQUAD: A few familiar faces returned to the Rams on the practice squad Monday. Quarterback Russ Michna and receiver Michael Coleman were released Aug. 28, but brought back on the practice squad. Joining them are running back Dusty McGrorty and cornerback Dwight Anderson, a couple of players who were cut Sunday.

    Offensive lineman Ben Noll appeared to be in position to join them on the practice squad, but Dallas claimed him before St. Louis could bring him back. Others released include linebackers Tony Newson and Brandon Spoon, safeties Justin Lucas and Nijrell Eason, defensive end Sean Moran, defensive tackle Bernard Holsey, receiver Jamal Jones, defensive end Kevin Aldridge and tackle Matt Morgan.

    INJURY UPDATE: Cornerback DeJuan Groce returned to practice after missing time with a sprained knee. Receiver Kevin Curtis missed practice with continued problems from shin splints.

    In lieu of cutting two players, the Rams placed another pair on the injured reserve list, meaning they are out for the year. Tight end Erik Jensen, who has had a pair of knee injuries, and safety/cornerback Tom Knight, who missed time with a variety of injuries, including a broken finger, joined Kyle Turley and Jeremy Loyd on the list.

  • #2
    Re: Monday Notebook: Pace Back in Fold

    Wait, Newson was released? So who are our backers?

    Pisa, Thomas, Chillar, Polley, Faulk and who else?


    • #3
      Re: Monday Notebook: Pace Back in Fold

      Originally posted by RamWraith
      Bronson started 43 games in his time with the *****, but injuries to his left foot, shoulder and neck, have limited his time on the field the past two years. San Francisco released him on June 2.

      Martz said Bronson is a guy the team eyed during Bronson’s time in San Francisco.

      “Last year, I think he had three injuries and kind of struggled,” Martz said. “Up to that point, he had played at a very high level. I’m very pleased to have him.”
      Hopefully this veteran DB with an injury history has more luck than the previous veteran DB with an injury history that we signed for a year to help in the secondary.


      Related Topics


      • RamWraith
        Preseason wraps up without Pace
        by RamWraith
        By Bill Coats
        Of the Post-Dispatch

        Another day at Rams Park, another day without Orlando Pace. But the absence of the five-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Tuesday signaled a milestone of sorts.

        Even if Pace shows up Wednesday, he almost surely won't play in Thursday night's final preseason game in Oakland.

        "We'd be irresponsible to stick him in a football game, I think," coach Mike Martz said. "He's got no practice time, and he's certainly not in any kind of hitting shape."

        Thus, Pace officially has missed all of the preseason for the first time. Even though he sat out large chunks of training camp last year and in 1997, his rookie year, he had arrived for the final preseason game both those seasons.

        The Rams would like to sign Pace, 28, to a long-term deal. But negotiations with his agent, Carl Poston, can't resume until Pace signs his one-year, $7.02 million tender as the team's franchise player and reports for work.

        Oakland cornerback Charles Woodson, who is also a Poston client, signed his tender Tuesday. That leaves Pace and Seattle offensive tackle Walter Jones as the only franchise players yet to check in.

        So far, Pace's teammates are taking his tardiness philosophically.

        "Whenever he gets here, he gets here. We don't say too much about it," guard Adam Timmerman said. "Hopefully he has a little bit of time to get ready and put himself in a position where he doesn't get hurt and is ready to play."

        But even if Pace arrives today, he won't have much opportunity to prepare for the regular-season opener Sept. 12 against Arizona. The Rams will practice Wednesday afternoon before leaving for the West Coast. No practices are scheduled for Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Tuesday is normally a day off during game week.

        Asked if Pace's absence frustrates him, Martz said: "Not anymore, because I don't worry about it. When he's here, he's here. Until then we've got Grant (Williams), who's playing well, and Scotty (Tercero).

        "Whatever happens, happens. But I'm happy with the guys that are playing
        -09-01-2004, 04:43 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, 02:07 PM
      • RamWraith
        Sehorn making return, Gordon to Miami??
        by RamWraith

        By Jim Thomas
        Of the Post-Dispatch
        Sunday, Sep. 05 2004

        On a day largely spent trimming players from their
        roster, the Rams made one
        big addition. Offensive tackle Orlando Pace signed his
        one-year tender as a
        franchise player Sunday evening and is expected to be
        on the practice field
        this afternoon.

        After signing the one-year, $7.02 million contract,
        Pace huddled almost
        immediately with offensive line coach John Matsko,
        trying to get up to speed
        just seven days before the regular-season opener
        against Arizona.

        Seeking a long-term contract, Pace stayed away from
        all team activities for the
        second consecutive offseason, including minicamp and
        training camp in Macomb,
        Ill. This time, he took it one step further - missing
        all four exhibition games
        as well. Last season, he played in the fourth
        preseason game after signing the
        one-year franchise player tender.

        Reached earlier on Sunday, Pace agent Carl Poston
        sounded anything but
        optimistic about Pace's return.

        "I've encouraged him to come in," Poston said. "I've
        instructed him to sign the
        one-year tender. But I can't make the big fellow come
        in. He's frustrated with
        the team."

        But something must have happened to shake loose the
        stalemate during several
        phone conversations over the weekend between Poston
        and Rams president of
        football operations Jay Zygmunt. Pace arrived at Rams
        Park and signed the
        tender at about 6:30 p.m.

        Zygmunt confirmed Sunday evening that Pace had signed
        the contract, but he
        declined further comment.

        Barring any setback on the practice field this week,
        Pace will start at left
        tackle Sunday against the Big Red. After sitting out
        the preseason finale
        against Oakland with a sprained ankle, Chris Dishman
        is expected to start at
        left guard, with Andy McCollum at center, Adam
        Timmerman at right guard and
        Grant Williams at right tackle.

        Because Pace signed after 3 p.m. Sunday, he did not
        count against the team's
        53-man roster. The Rams can ask for a two-week roster
        exemption, or they can
        simply release another player today.

        The Rams released 11 players, and placed two others on
        injured reserve to reach
        Sunday afternoon's league-mandated roster limit of 53
        players. Those moves
        actually left the team at 52 players, but the Rams
        signed free-agent safety
        Zack Bronson, a former San Francisco 49er, to that
        roster spot.

        There were no real surprises on the cut list, compiled
        by the Post-Dispatch...
        -09-06-2004, 05:40 AM
      • RamWraith
        Pace will start vs. Arizona Sunday
        by RamWraith
        By Jim Thomas
        Of the Post-Dispatch
        Tuesday, Sep. 07 2004

        Is Orlando Pace ready for some football? Mike Martz didn't hedge or hesitate
        when asked how long it would take Pace to get ready to play.

        "Four days," Martz said, without blinking.

        Call that the pragmatic answer. Because when Pace stepped onto the practice
        field Monday afternoon at Rams Park, four practices remained until the
        regular-season opener against Arizona.

        Ready or not, Pace will be in the starting lineup for Sunday's noon kickoff at
        the Edward Jones Dome. He will do so without the benefit of participation in
        the offseason conditioning program, minicamps or lighter spring workouts known
        as OTAs. He will do so despite missing all four exhibition games and 5 1/2
        weeks of work since the start of training camp July 28.

        So is four practices enough?

        "I guess it'll have to be," Martz said. "I think it is. We haven't changed what
        we do - the calls, the terms. ... So it's not like he just got here and is
        learning the offense."

        Pace ended his contract stalemate Sunday night by signing a one-year, $7.02
        million tender as the Rams' franchise player. To help entice Pace to report,
        the Rams gave him $1 million of that total in the form of a signing bonus.

        "We're all excited to have Orlando back," Martz said. "I know he feels good
        about being back, too."

        On that last point, we'll just have to take Martz's word for it. Pace declined
        to speak to reporters Monday.

        On the practice field, Pace appeared to be in better shape than last season,
        when he reported 4 1/2 weeks into camp.

        "He came into camp this year 16 pounds underneath what he did last year," Martz
        said. "He's obviously trained very well and has prepared himself to come to
        camp. Watching him out here in practice, he's a little rusty with some things,
        but he's a pretty unique individual."

        Pace is listed at 325 pounds on the roster but was probably closer to 345 or
        350 when he reported last season.

        On Monday, Pace was with the first unit from the outset, and took his regular
        turn with the starters throughout practice. There was no easing him in. During
        one-on-one pass-rush drills with the defensive linemen, Pace went up against
        Bryce Fisher and Anthony Hargrove.

        Hargrove got some penetration with an inside move his first time up against
        Pace. But the second time around, Pace flattened Hargrove like a pancake,
        drawing hoots and hollers from teammates.

        But overall, there was little fanfare surrounding Pace's return. It was pretty
        much another...
        -09-07-2004, 10:34 AM
      • RamWraith
        Pace is still a no-show as season approaches
        by RamWraith
        By Jim Thomas
        Of the Post-Dispatch
        Monday, Aug. 30 2004

        For those of you who had Monday in the "Orlando Pace" office pool, sorry, but
        thanks for playing.

        The Rams returned to work Monday for their first practice since the Washington
        exhibition game. Once again, they were without Pace, their five-time Pro Bowl
        left tackle.

        Many observers thought Monday would be the day, giving Pace two full weeks to
        prepare for the season opener Sept. 12 against Arizona. In fact, some team
        officials hoped Pace would report Sunday. That way, he could take his physical
        and sign his one-year, $7.02 million franchise tender, without missing any
        meeting time or practice time Monday.

        But none of the above happened.

        Pace has not participated in any organized team activities since the Rams'
        double-overtime playoff loss to Carolina on Jan. 10. As a result, he has missed
        all of training camp in Macomb for the third time in eight NFL seasons. And
        unless he shows up in the next day or two, he will miss the Rams' entire 2004
        exhibition schedule. The club leaves St. Louis on Wednesday for its exhibition
        finale Thursday night in Oakland.

        Pace has not returned several phone messages from the Post-Dispatch. But that's
        not surprising, considering he has not returned phone messages from coach Mike
        Martz and other members of the Rams staff.

        Pace hosted a party for team members at a midtown nightclub Friday after the
        Washington exhibition game, fueling speculation that he soon would report to
        Rams Park.

        "I have not talked to him," said Grant Williams, who has been manning left
        tackle in Pace's absence. "But I would expect him probably to come in
        (Tuesday). I know if I was in that situation, I would want to play in the last
        preseason game and get ready for the season.

        "And at the same time, I wouldn't want to jeopardize myself and miss the
        'install' and preparation for this game. You don't want to go into the Oakland
        game totally short-handed. You want to get a few reps and feel sort of
        comfortable. So I would think (Tuesday)."

        Williams said today's practice would feature the "installation" of whatever
        semblance of a game plan the Rams will have for the Raiders.

        If Pace follows the same game plan as last year, when he also balked at the
        team's franchise-player designation, he will report today. Last year, he
        reported two days before the team's preseason finale, and 12 days before the
        season opener. If he reports today, it will be two days before the preseason
        finale, and 12 days before the opener.

        Martz said he has gotten beyond...
        -08-31-2004, 05:41 AM