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Rams Look to Continue Post-Bye Success

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  • Rams Look to Continue Post-Bye Success

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    It might feel like forever since the Rams last played, but in reality, it has been just a little more than a week since they lost to Miami.

    Heading into the bye week it would have been easy to stew about the loss that dropped St. Louis to 4-3, but it was more important to look ahead than back. Like any disappointing loss, the Dolphins game was hard to swallow, but there was no time to rest for the Rams’ coaching staff with the task at hand this weekend.

    As has been his custom, coach Mike Martz gave the players the week off and kept the staff working during the off time. The players were required to do some weight lifting and conditioning at least three times, but otherwise, they had the rest of the week as off time.

    Martz said the plan has been effective in years past, so he wanted to stick by it.

    “All of our byes have kind of fallen around the seventh, eighth, ninth week and when you look at camp and the preseason and the first half of the season, their bodies kind of need a break,” Martz said. “We have gone into bye with some pretty good records, undefeated at times, but still they need that body a chance to catch up. It seems to work pretty good.”

    It has indeed, worked well for the Rams, who are 4-0 under Martz in games after a bye week. Last year, St. Louis came off the bye week with a convincing 36-0 win against Atlanta on Monday Night Football. St. Louis is going to need some more of that magic this weekend.

    The Rams get a visit from defending world champion New England on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. The game certainly lost a little luster because of the Patriots’ loss to Pittsburgh yesterday, but it still carries a lot of weight for both teams for many reasons.

    Primarily, the Rams want to get back on track after the loss to the Dolphins. Heading into Miami, that track appeared to be the fast one, headed straight for another NFC West Division championship. A prime opportunity to expand their lead was missed when the Rams had trouble stopping Miami from making big plays and making any big plays of their own. St. Louis remains undefeated in the division and is still the leader in the clubhouse.

    Martz said winning the division is at the top of the priority list.

    “For us right now, where we are, we are struggling to stay on top of the division any way we can,” Martz said. “That’s the most important thing. Obviously, the Patriots and the history we have with them is kind of special. We are just trying to get in and we are going the right direction, so we are going to try to stay on top of it.”

    Now, St. Louis faces its tallest order yet in the form of the Patriots. The last time these two teams met, the stakes were much larger in Super Bowl XXXVI. The Patriots won their first of two world titles in the past three years on kicker Adam Vinatieri’s field goal as time expired.

    Since then, things have only gotten better for New England, which went on to win another Super Bowl last year. The Patriots won 21 consecutive games before losing to the Steelers, but they still boast one of the league’s best teams.

    Like Pittsburgh, St. Louis is coming off a bye week the week before taking on the defending champions. That extra week worked out well for the Steelers and has definitely served the Rams well in recent years.

    St. Louis returned to practice Monday, giving it an additional practice this week in preparation for the Patriots. Unlike in years past, the Rams spent the extra workout in full pads as opposed to shells.

    “We have always been in shells and we come back in pads today and I thought practice was outstanding,” Martz said. “We have got so money young players… I thought it was beneficial.”

    Every player spent his bye week a different way, but all came back with one common goal: beat New England and prepare for another playoff run.

    INJURY REPORT: The opportunity to recover from injuries was also important for the Rams during the bye week. Defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson appears healthy after a hamstring injury and returned to practice Monday.

    Jackson said he is happy to be back at work, but isn’t sure he is fully healthy yet.

    “I don’t know if I’m 100 percent, we are going to see exactly where I am today because I plan on doing everything,”

    Jackson said. “I feel really good, though, and I ran full speed all during the bye week. I think I am good enough to go.”

    Jackson appeared good to go, playing at full throttle during one-on-one drills and showing good burst.

    Chillar and receiver Dane Looker didn’t participate in practice and tight end Cameron Cleeland injured his left foot during the workout. Right tackle Grant Williams and defensive end Bryce Fisher, who suffered injuries in the Miami game both participated, but Williams appeared somewhat limited. The official injury report will be released Wednesday.

    MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Look for a familiar name, but an unfamiliar face to start at middle linebacker against the Patriots this week. Hard-hitting Trev Faulk, who has been a special teams dynamo and replaced Chillar (hamstring) against the Dolphins, appears to have a firm grip on the starting job.

    “He has seized the starting role at mike (middle) linebacker at this point, there is no question about that,” Martz said. “It’s his to lose.”

    Robert Thomas started the season as the team’s middle linebacker, but he has battled an ankle sprain. Faulk gave a good glimpse at why he has earned the job in practice, hauling in a spectacular one-handed interception in seven-on-seven passing drills.

    McBRIDE ARRIVES: The bye week is more than just an opportunity for players to get healthy and refocus for the rest of the season. It is a chance for the talent evaluators to look around and find possible help that might be available.

    The Rams did just that, signing former Seattle cornerback Tod McBride. McBride’s career has been spent at corner, but he will make the switch to free safety as a Ram. To make room for McBride, St. Louis released kicker Jeff Chandler and moved running back Dusty McGrorty back to the practice squad.

    McBride has spent time with Atlanta, the Seahawks and Green Bay before signing a one-year deal on Oct. 27. He had three interceptions, a career-high for the Falcons last season.

    McBride is the next in a long line of safeties the Rams have tried to plug in for depth. He was with Seattle as recently as the first meeting with St. Louis at Qwest Field on Oct. 10. Others who have tried to handle the nickel and dime duties at safety include Tom Knight, Zack Bronson and Kwamie Lassiter.

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Rams preparing for Patriots visit
    by RamWraith
    By R.B. Fallstrom
    AP Sports Writer
    Monday, Nov. 01 2004

    The St. Louis Rams would have liked being the team to end the New England
    Patriots NFL record 21-game winning streak, considering their last trip to the
    Super Bowl was a loss to New England after the 2001 season.

    Instead, the Steelers beat them to the punch. The Patriots (6-1) play at St.
    Louis (4-3) on Sunday.

    "Of course you would have liked to have gotten a crack at it," tight end Cam
    Cleeland said Monday. "But they're still Super Bowl champions, so they're going
    to be just as good as they were before that loss.

    "I guarantee you they're going to be hyped and want to come in and prove
    they are the best."

    Watching the Patriots lose 34-20 to Pittsburgh was among the bye week
    activities for most Rams players, including coach Mike Martz. He watched the
    game again on tape before the team returned to practice in full pads on Monday.

    "They lost that game the way they'd been winning games," Martz said. "They
    gave the ball up early."

    But to Martz, it doesn't make any difference that the Patriots are no longer
    unbeaten. To him, it's always been about the Rams' performance.

    "We're struggling to stay on top of the division any way we can," Martz said
    "Obviously the history we have with them is kind of special, but we're just so
    concerned right now about getting better."

    The Rams have plenty to prove. In the last game before their midseason
    break, they became the first team to lose to the lowly Dolphins.

    "We don't like the way we left that thing before the bye," defensive tackle
    Tyoka Jackson said. "We've got an extra day of practice just to focus on who we
    are and what we did, and try to eliminate the mistakes and play like the Rams."

    Under Martz, they're more likely to be themselves after some time off. He's
    4-0 after the bye, perhaps because he's willing to treat the week as a break.

    Players showed up three times for lifting and running but otherwise had time
    to heal from aches and pains. Cornerback Travis Fisher, shaky in his first game
    back from a broken forearm sustained in the preseason, will have more time to
    reacclimate himself with the defense.

    Offensive guard Chris Dishman is closer to health from a knee injury; tackle
    Grant Williams has gotten over a stringer; defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy could
    play for the first time since breaking a foot early in training camp, and
    Jackson expects to be back at close to full strength after missing two games
    with a pulled left hamstring.

    "We're by and large healthy,"...
    -11-02-2004, 05:18 AM
  • RamWraith
    Bye-Bye, Vacation: Martz, Rams back to work
    by RamWraith
    Bye-Bye, Vacation: Martz, Rams back to work
    By Jeff Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Nov. 01 2004

    As far as the Rams are concerned, the NFL bye week is the pause that refreshes.

    For basically the fifth season under coach Mike Martz, the Rams have gone
    through their entire bye week without a practice. Such a regimen - or
    non-regimen - was almost unheard of in the NFL when Martz first instituted it
    in 2000, his rookie season as Rams head coach.

    "It was hard to do initially, because people just don't do it," Martz said
    Monday, after the Rams' first practice since their loss Oct. 24 to Miami. "You
    don't know how the players will take it. You trust these guys, and you tell
    them why you're doing it."

    The only asterisk to the Martz bye week plan came in 2001, when 18 players
    engaged in seven-on-seven passing drills on Wednesday and Thursday of the bye
    week. Everybody else was off. Most of the participants were special teams or
    scout team players, and almost all were rookies or young players.

    In 2000, '02, and '03 - and now, '04 - the bye week routine has consisted of
    only two weightlifting and conditioning sessions sometime between Tuesday and
    Friday. Otherwise, the players are off.

    "When you look at camp, and the preseason, and the first half of the season,
    their bodies kind of need the break," Martz said. "And when they come out of a
    bye, they usually feel pretty good. ... When we first did it, I was a little
    nervous about it, but I just felt like it was the right thing to do. It seems
    to work pretty good."

    It's hard to argue with the results. The Rams are 4-0 coming out of bye weeks
    under Martz, and an emphatic 4-0 at that. The combined score of those games has
    been 156- 57.

    Granted, the Rams had some very good teams in 2000 and '03. But even in '02,
    when given a week off for the bye following a 2-5 start, the Rams returned with
    a 27-14 victory at Arizona.

    "Hopefully, we can make it 5-0 on Sunday," linebacker Trev Faulk said.

    Easier said than done, considering Sunday's opponent is New England- 6-1 this
    season and the reigning Super Bowl champ.

    In five seasons with Tampa Bay, defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson remembers
    practicing every year during the Buccaneers' bye week.

    "And after the week was over, it didn't feel like a bye week at all," Jackson
    recalled. "It just felt like you had the weekend off."

    Things are done differently in St. Louis, at least under Martz. Under
    predecessors Rich Brooks and Dick Vermeil, the Rams usually practiced on
    Wednesday and Thursday...
    -11-02-2004, 05:18 AM
  • RamDez
    Martz' method works for Rams (pats press)
    by RamDez
    Martz' method works for Rams

    [email protected]

    St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz has always taken an unusual approach to bye weeks.

    Judging from how well it has worked, maybe it should not be such an unusual approach.

    For the fifth straight season, Martz gave his team the entire bye week off. The Rams, who were off last week, play the visiting New England Patriots Sunday.

    The Rams are 4-0 following bye weeks under Martz, and they have averaged 39 points per game with an average margin of victory of nearly 25 points.

    The controversial coach said it was a difficult move to make at first. He added he has continued the practice in part because his team's bye week has always fallen pretty much in the middle of the season.

    "After you have gone through the preseason and the entire start of the regular season, these guys physically and emotionally need a break, and the coaches could use one," Martz said.

    "They have to come in and lift and run three days out of that week," he added. "They get away with their families, their bodies are healed, and it's just like starting the whole year over. It's kind of refreshing."

    Most teams will hold two or three regular practices during a bye week before giving players the weekend off.

    INJURY UPDATE: The Patriots made no changes to their rather lengthy injury report.

    Running backs Corey Dillon (thigh) and Patrick Pass (thigh), receivers Deion Branch (knee), Troy Brown (shoulder) and David Givens (knee), tackle Tom Ashworth (back) and special teams linebacker Larry Izzo (knee) all missed at least a portion of team practice for the second straight day, according to the team.

    All are questionable for Sunday's game except Branch, who is doubtful. "I'll be back soon," Branch said. "It (being injured) is part of life."

    Cornerbacks Ty Law (foot) and Tyrone Poole (knee) will not play Sunday.

    Poole said players such as second-year pro Asante Samuel and rookie free agent Randall Gay will have a chance to gain experience, and the Patriots will benefit from that later in the season.

    "If something happens in a crucial game, the coaches don't have to say, 'Wow, I wonder how this guy is going to react in a crucial situation,' Poole said.

    "We have injuries, and that's not a positive, but it's a positive in the fact that it gives the guys who would not normally have opportunities to play the chance to do that."

    New England coach Bill Belichick was asked yesterday morning what his players would wear at practice...
    -11-07-2004, 02:59 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams Hold Another Physical Workout
    by RamWraith

    Associated Press

    ST. LOUIS - It worked for the St. Louis Rams last week, so Wednesday was another good day for full-contact scrimmaging.

    The Rams responded to coach Mike Martz's decision to get physical last week with a 23-12 victory Sunday over Seattle for first place in the NFC West, but no one's satisfied. So twice a week for the rest of the season, counting game day, there'll be some heavy hitting.

    Players weren't complaining last week, and they're still not.

    "This is your job, you have to keep it up," wide receiver Isaac Bruce said. "You can't be on a roller coaster where one week you're up and the next week you're down.

    "If there's no consistency there, it just doesn't help the cause."

    Linebacker Trev Faulk said practicing physical helps him play that way.

    "If that's the formula, if that's what works, that's what we have to continue to do," Faulk said. "The most important thing is on Sunday that we have more points."

    To Martz, scrimmaging is a way of emphasizing fundamentals with a team that had slipped in recent weeks. Before beating Seattle, St. Louis had lost consecutive games to previously winless Miami and beat-up New England and the coach detected a loss of passion.

    "Sometimes what you see is what you coach, so we had to go back to basics," Martz said. "We've got to block and tackle better, we just do.

    "We're not where we need to be, but we're making progress and that's all you can do."

    Although Martz twice called out players last week, saying it was up to them which way the season turned, he said the scrimmages are not a form of punishment. On Wednesday, most of the contact involved the scout team offense and the first-team defense.

    "You get mad and start taking that stuff out on them, you'll lose your team," Martz said. "Then you need to get out of coaching and get an attitude readjustment.

    "It was never about that, it was about getting back to basics and getting your feet on the ground and getting physical again and enjoying that part of the game."

    Players never took it that way. Defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson noted that after the Rams lost 31-14 to the Dolphins, Martz gave the team the entire bye week off.

    Jackson said it was a matter of trust and loyalty.

    "His one concern is the players, and are we ready to play on Sunday?" Jackson said. "When you've got a guy like that you don't question his motives. He felt we had let ourselves down, most importantly, and let our coaching staff down, and you've got to take a hard look when he says something like that."

    There's another reason for keeping that edge: There are few dominant teams in...
    -11-17-2004, 06:35 PM
  • RamWraith
    Can the Rams lift fans' spirits?
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    These are dark days for St. Louis area sports fans.

    In case you missed it, the Cardinals got bounced in four games in the World Series by the Boston Red Sox.

    The Rams lost their most recent outing to Miami, one of the NFL's worst teams.

    On the college football scene, Missouri is on the skids, and Illinois can't beat anybody. In hockey, the NHL lockout continues with no end in sight.

    "The River Otters are doing good though," offered Rams offensive guard Tom Nutten, a hockey fan.

    Yeah. But short of getting a World Series do-over for the Cardinals, the surest way to lift the spirits of Gateway City sports fans would be a victory Sunday over the New England Patriots.

    "We've got to pick them back up," linebacker Trev Faulk said.

    "We can't make up for a couple years ago in New Orleans," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said, referring to the Rams' 20-17 Super Bowl loss to New England after the 2001 season. "And we can't make up for losing the World Series. But we can get a little bit of that respect back ... by taking care of business. We don't like the way we left that thing before the bye week. We didn't play Rams football."

    Not even close. Shoddy special teams play, a porous secondary and inconsistent offense added up to a 31-14 loss to the previously winless Dolphins. And if the Rams didn't feel bad enough about that setback, the New York Jets' 41-14 trampling of the Dolphins on Monday night only reinforced the fact that Miami isn't very good.

    "It was probably a good thing to have the bye after that (Miami game)," offensive tackle Grant Williams said. "Just to kind of catch your breath, put that in the past, and come back."

    Many Rams spent at least part of Sunday watching New England's record 21-game winning streak end in a lopsided 34- 20 loss at Pittsburgh.

    "They lost that game the way they've been winning games," coach Mike Martz said. "They gave the ball up early, and Pittsburgh was able to get some points on them, and held on. That's kind of been (New England's) formula."

    Despite scoring first for the 15th consecutive game, the Patriots fell behind 21-3 in the first quarter with the Steelers converting two New England turnovers into 14 quick points. By game's end, the Patriots were minus-4 in takeaway- giveaway differential. The last time the Patriots were minus-4 was also the last time they lost - 20-17 to Washington on Sept. 28, 2003.

    During the 21-game winning streak, the Patriots were remarkably consistent in the turnover game. They had been on the minus end only four times - and just minus-1 on all four occasions. Overall, New England was plus-22 in takeaway- giveaways during the streak. ...
    -11-03-2004, 05:17 AM