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  • Rams suffering from injuries, departures

    Rams suffering from injuries, departures


    By Len Pasquarelli
    ESPN.com

    When the St. Louis offensive line hunkers into its collective three-point stance for the initial snap of Sunday's regular-season opener against Arizona, it will mark the first time the Rams' starting-unit quintet has worked together in a game since … well, since forever.



    The holdout of "franchise" left tackle Orlando Pace, a potential career-ending back injury to right tackle Kyle Turley that landed him on injured reserve, and the release of center Dave Wohlabaugh because of surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, kept three 2003 starters out for most of camp and eventually eliminated two of them entirely for this year.



    There have been less-severe injuries as well, and reevaluations that dictated even more shuffling, and the Rams either signed or claimed on waivers six different reinforcements during camp. One of them, former Cardinals blocker Chris Dishman, who was all but ignored as an unrestricted free agent in the spring until the Rams dispatched an SOS, will start at left guard on Sunday afternoon.



    Tom Nutten, lured out of retirement two weeks ago, just one day before he was scheduled to leave for Germany where he was going to conduct some youth football camps, is a key backup. The No. 3 tackle is Greg Randall, signed by St. Louis after he was jettisoned by two other teams this spring. Second-year veteran Scott Tercero, who didn't play a single snap as a rookie in 2003 but lined up at three different positions in camp, suddenly is now a non-expendable reserve.



    One can pretty much forgive the St. Louis offensive linemen if, in the huddle on Sunday, they glance around and feel as if they are in the company of strangers. Just two players from the 2003 starting lineup, Pace and right guard Adam Timmerman, are in the same spots as a year ago. The release of Wohlabaugh forced Andy McCollum, the starting left guard last season, to switch to center for this year.



    "From one day to the next, in camp, you never really knew who was (lining up) where," said veteran Grant Williams, who spent most of the preseason at left tackle, but will now switch to the right side, since Pace has signed his one-year qualifying tender and reported for duty. "It was almost like picking names out of a hat sometimes. But you know what, look around the league, OK? Maybe there weren't teams that had it like we did, but there are a lot (of teams) where the offensive lines weren't very settled."



    Point taken. Around the league, offensive line units are in flux, and that could leave a lot of coaches in a bind. And some quarterbacks, perhaps, in traction.





    GordonHe might not have the résumé of Chicago Bears veteran Anthony Thomas, the tailback the Dolphins most coveted over the past couple weeks, but most league personnel people feel Lamar Gordon was a very nice addition for running back-needy Miami. Desperate for a back to replace Ricky Williams, the Dolphins sent the St. Louis Rams a third-round pick in the 2005 draft for Gordon, a solid, young runner. One scout's assessment: "Runs a little high, but has power and is quicker than you think, and will make some big plays for you if you keep giving him the ball. I actually thought the Dolphins got him for a pretty decent price. Let's face it, everybody knew the pickle Miami was in, and they all kept raising the ante on a trade. And, basically, the Dolphins had an extra (third-round pick) because of the (Adewale Ogunleye) trade with Chicago, so what the heck." The Dolphins also get Gordon for a pretty reasonable price financially, too, since he has two seasons remaining on his original NFL contract at minimum salaries of $380,000 for 2004 and $455,000 for 2005. That's a lot less than they were paying Williams, from whom Miami is still trying to elicit an $8 million payback for breach of contract. The Bears' Thomas is entering the final year of his contract, with a salary of $514,500, and so Miami would have had to extend his deal, or run the risk of losing him in free agency next spring.

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

  • #2
    Re: Rams suffering from injuries, departures

    Am I the only one who is tired of reading these superficial analyses of the Rams?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams suffering from injuries, departures

      Originally posted by AvengerRam
      Am I the only one who is tired of reading these superficial analyses of the Rams?
      Here, here.
      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      Comment

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      • Clan-Robot
        [Fox-NFL]- St. Louis Rams Strategy and Personnel
        by Clan-Robot
        The Rams signed safety Deandre' Eiland, who spent time on the Dolphins' and *****' practice squads this season.
        UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS
        QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Marc Bulger. Backups - Jamie Martin, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jeff Smoker.
        Bulger played just eight games because of a shoulder injury yet passed for 2,297 yards with a rating of 94.4. He'll be adjusting to a new coach, but he is developing into an excellent player. The Rams just have to find a way to keep him healthy.

        Link To Original Article
        -02-11-2006, 10:00 PM
      • RamDez
        TSN Rams Report
        by RamDez
        TSN Rams Report
        By Jim Thomas

        PLUS FACTORS: The receiving unit remains one of the league's best. The skills of Isaac Bruce, 31, don't appear to be diminishing, and Torry Holt has reached the elite level. But the real news is the depth that has developed in the form of Dane Looker, Shaun McDonald, Kevin Curtis and Mike Furrey. McDonald, in particular, had a strong preseason. The young linebackers appear poised to break out. MLB Robert Thomas and OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa have superior speed and instincts but must stay healthy and play smarter. OLB Tommy Polley has been in the doghouse much of the preseason but remains an asset in coverage. Not only is Leonard Little a premier pass rusher, he's also among the top all-around ends and can change a game single-handedly. No lineman in the league has better pursuit skills. Even if RB Marshall Faulk has trouble staying healthy, rookie Steven Jackson has showed he can be an exciting replacement.




        MINUS SIDE: The offensive line is a mess.

        LT Orlando Pace missed all of camp for the second straight year in a contract squabble; C Dave Wohlabaugh (hip) was released after failing a physical; and RT Kyle Turley (back) is out for the season. Grant Williams, Turley's likely replacement, isn't physically gifted but should be solid. Andy McCollum, the starter at left guard last year, will play center. The left guard is Chris Dishman, who was talked out of retirement and needs time to round into shape. The defensive line is thin after the loss RE Grant Wistrom and DT Brian Young as free agents and the loss of reserve DT Jimmy Kennedy (foot) for much of the season. Fullback and tight end were problem areas a year ago, and little has changed. FB Joey Goodspeed and TE Brandon Manumaleuna had good camps but remain unproven. The loss of CB Travis Fisher (arm) for most of the year puts pressure on a young corner (DeJuan Groce or Kevin Garrett) to come through. The team may have to consider moving FS Aeneas Williams to corner.

        THOMAS' BOTTOM LINE: At the start of training camp, this team had fewer questions than the 2003 squad that finished 12-4. But injuries at key positions have changed that outlook. Without a healthy, proven line, the team won't score as it did last season. As a result, the Rams are looking at a 9-7 or 10-6 record and will be scrambling to make the playoffs.
        -09-05-2004, 05:58 AM
      • RamDez
        Quarterback questions dominate NFC West
        by RamDez
        Quarterback questions dominate NFC West

        By Vic Carucci
        National Editor, NFL.com

        (With NFL training camps due to open later this month, Vic Carucci has put together an eight-part series highlighting how each division shapes up in the aftermath of offseason personnel moves and organized workouts).

        (July 22, 2004) -- Here's a look at the NFC West.

        Most influential offseason moves


        The Rams remain explosive and always will be as long as Mike Martz is the one designing their offensive philosophy and putting together their playbook. But are these the same Rams that won a Super Bowl and appeared in a second not long ago? Are they the same Rams that seemingly could score at will? Those are tough questions to answer until the season opens and we see how Marc Bulger is going to handle the starting quarterback job without Kurt Warner, who is now a New York Giant, looking over his shoulder pad. After becoming the starter in '03, Bulger showed signs of regression late in the season and into the playoffs. Just as in offseason drills, the Rams will devote a good portion of training camp to helping Bulger improve his accuracy on deep passes and stop forcing as many throws into coverage. The Rams' defensive line took a couple of significant hits with the free-agent departures of end Grant Wistrom and tackle Brian Young, and it remains to be seen how well those spots can be filled.

        After beefing up their pass rush, the Seahawks' primary offseason goal was improving the NFL's 27th-ranked pass defense. They opened the vault particularly wide to acquire free-agent end Grant Wistrom. He doesn't consistently put up impressive numbers (see his 7˝ sacks last year), but he is a difference-maker in so many other areas such as matching his considerable strength against the run and providing excellent spirit and leadership. First-round draft pick Marcus Tubbs should help fill the athleticism void in the middle of the Seahawks' defensive line after John Randle's retirement and pick up the run-plugging slack created by Norman Hand's departure. Second-round pick Michael Boulware was a linebacker at Florida State but has the speed and athletic ability to make an impact as a strong safety in the NFL. He started off slowly with the adjustment in early offseason workouts, but has made dramatic progress since. Seattle's secondary should receive a powerful shakeup with the addition of free-agent cornerback Bobby Taylor. Taylor can still shutdown some of the top quarterbacks in the game, or at the very least, put himself consistently in a position to make plays. Taylor has the size (6-foot-3 and 216 pounds) and long arms to hold his own against the larger and more physical receivers he will regularly see in this division. Another huge move was the decision to re-sign Darrell Jackson, the team's leading receiver last season and a hot commodity in the free-agent market, to a big contract.
        ...
        -07-22-2004, 12:01 PM
      • psycho9985
        Notes about the Game today.
        by psycho9985
        Inside Slant | Notes and Quotes | Strategy and Personnel
        Coach Mike Martz is adamant that the club's special teams will improve, despite the numerous problems that occurred in San Francisco in the season opener.

        "Oh, I'm very confident. This is going to work fine," he said. "This guy that is coaching the special teams (Bob Ligashesky) is outstanding. He is very superior, and I really, truly mean that. This guy is special. We have some young guys that need to step up that haven't. We trusted them in a vital role and they didn't play well. We will replace them with some veterans if we have to. But that is their role. That is their job. I don't care who is coaching or what team they are on. They have to step up and make plays."
        Asked about rookies adjusting to regular-season intensity, Martz said, "They get sunburned on the roof of their mouth. Even for guys that have been playing in the league for a long time, when you get out of the preseason and you play that first game, especially a division game, that has a lot of chemistry to it, there is a lot of electricity in the air. It's fast, it's really fast, and they have to get used to it."
        PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES
        --RT Rex Tucker injured his calf against San Francisco and will be out an undetermined amount of time. Tucker was wearing a boot in practice Wednesday, and could miss a few weeks.
        --OL Blaine Saipaia is expected to be the starter Sunday at right tackle against Arizona, replacing an injured Rex Tucker. Saipaia started seven games at the position last season (including two playoff games).
        --G Claude Terrell was inactive for his first NFL game Sunday, but could be in uniform this week because of the injury suffered by OT Rex Tucker.
        --CB Terry Fair has been running and is getting closer to playing as he recovers from a neck injury.
        --CB Chris Johnson is expected to remain as the team's kickoff returner, despite averaging only 13.8 yards a return in the opener against the ***** and stepping out of bounds at the 1-yard line on the first play of the game.
        GAME PLAN: Offensively, the Rams will try to run the ball better than they did against San Francisco and build a lead so they don't have to call 65 pass plays.
        On defense, after stopping the ***** ground game, the Rams will try to do the same against Arizona, which struggled running in the opener against the Giants
        MATCHUPS TO WATCH
        Rams DLE Leonard Little vs. Cardinals RT Oliver Ross - Little had two sacks and a forced fumble against the ***** and is looking to keep those happening after a statistically subpar year in 2004.
        Rams RT Blaine Saipaia vs. Cardinals DLE Chike Okeafor - Assuming Saipaia gets the start at right tackle, he will have to handle the non-stop motor of Okeafor. That's a matchup the ornery Saipaia should be OK with. However, the Cardinals could flip-flop their ends and have Bertrand Berry play some...
        -09-18-2005, 11:03 AM
      • RamDez
        Hawks ready to take Rams
        by RamDez
        By John Clayton

        ESPN.com



        Editor's note: ESPN senior NFL writer John Clayton's weekly "First And 10" column takes you around the league with a look at the best game of the week followed by primers for 10 other games. Here's his look at Week 5.

        First … St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks: Even in this era of parity in which franchises can go from worst to first, division takeovers don't always happen overnight.

        The Eagles have ruled the NFC East the past three years. Despite the Vikings being the favorites to win the NFC North this year, the Packers have won the past two division titles. And the Patriots seemingly now have the AFC East by the throat. But the longest divisional success story is the St. Louis Rams, who have either won or tied for the divisional title four of the past five years.

        Since joining the division in 2002, the Seahawks have set the Rams in their sights and structured their team in preparation for Sunday's game against St. Louis. If the Seahawks win at Qwest Field, they take control of the division with a 2˝-game lead. If they lose, the Rams would hold an edge because the Seahawks have a tough road trip to New England next week. Back-to-back losses by Seattle could give the Rams a half-game lead and the confidence of knowing the Seahawks would have to come to St. Louis on Nov. 14.

        On paper, the Seahawks have done all the right things to overtake the Rams. They've built an offense that can annually rank in the top seven in various statistics and play high-scoring games to counter the Rams' high-powered offense. They might have made the single biggest offseason move to weaken the Rams and strengthen themselves by signing former St. Louis defensive end Grant Wistrom.


        One player doesn't make a defense, but Wistrom is a player who makes this defense work. For one, he's a hustling player who creates a lot of energy. Second, he's a leader. Third, he gives the team a pass-rushing threat on the other side of Chike Okeafor to put pressure on quarterbacks.

        His absence has caused adjustments on the Rams defensive line, which also lost defensive tackle Brian Young and is missing injured defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy. Defensive end Leonard Little is being moved around to avoid the double-team blocking -- a strategy that worked well last week against the *****. In past years, Little drove right tackles crazy by rushing from the left side while Wistrom got his usual eight sacks from the right.

        In the past three years, the Rams haven't finished lower than 16th in defense. This year, they are 27th and are giving up 137.3 yards a game rushing. They are also giving up 21.5 points a game.

        While Arizona and San Francisco are in rebuilding mode, the NFC West is a two-team race. Sunday will determine which team has the edge.


        And 10. New York Giants at...
        -10-09-2004, 04:56 PM
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