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Special teams improvements, O-line musical chairs, and Wistrom

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  • Special teams improvements, O-line musical chairs, and Wistrom

    Team sees improvement on kickoff-return unit
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Nov. 10 2004

    The fact that the Rams returned seven kickoffs for an average of 22.7 yards
    Sunday against New England isn't the kind of statistic that normally jumps off
    the page. But when you consider the difficulty the team has had bringing back
    kicks, those numbers look pretty good.

    "We started off not too good this year, with a lot of young guys, first-year
    players, just trying to get the whole concept down," said Arlen Harris, who is
    averaging 20.7 yards on 23 of the team's 41 kickoff returns, including all
    seven in a 40-22 loss to the Patriots. "It's getting better. The only way to go
    right now is up, anyway."

    Overall, the Rams average 19.0 yards per return. Only Tennessee (16.9) and
    Jacksonville (18.5) have been less productive. The league leader is Tampa Bay

    In five games, the Rams have averaged 17.4 yards or less on kick returns, with
    season lows of 14.5 vs. Atlanta and 14.7 vs. San Francisco. Special-teams coach
    Mike Stock added linebacker Robert Thomas and cornerback Jerametrius Butler to
    the kick return unit Sunday, and the Rams had their most productive outing of
    the season.

    Personnel moves weren't the only change. "We tried a lot of different things
    week in and week out, and it wasn't working like we wanted it to," Harris said.
    "So this week, they told me to just get up the field as fast you can, just run.
    That's what I did, and we had some good plays."

    Punt return progress

    The Rams have fared only slightly better on punt returns. Shaun McDonald's
    average of 4.2 yards on 12 tries places him 26th in the league. Topping the
    list is Kansas City's Dante Hall (16.1).

    But McDonald at least has been reliable. His first-quarter fumble Sunday, which
    the Pats recovered at the Rams' 28-yard line, was his first miscue of the year.
    After eight games last season, the team had fumbled or muffed five punts.

    "I just tried to run before I caught" the ball, said McDonald, a second-year
    pro out of Arizona State. "I probably got a little excited. I've just got to
    work on looking the ball in and catching it before I move."

    Martz might shuffle offensive line

    Coach Mike Martz hinted Monday he was contemplating some personnel changes
    after back-to-back losses to Miami and New England. Based on Wednesday's
    practice, some moves might be coming on the slumping offensive line.

    Veteran Tom Nutten and rookie Larry Turner spent time at left guard with the
    first unit, and Blaine Saipaia took some turns at first-team right tackle.
    Chris Dishman and Scott Tercero have split time as the starting left guard, as
    both have battled injuries. Grant Williams has started all eight games at right

    Wide receiver Dane Looker (ankle) didn't practice and is listed as doubtful for
    Sunday's game. But cornerback Travis Fisher, whose two front teeth were pushed
    back in Sunday's game, was back on the field. "He's in pain, obviously," Martz
    said. "But there's nothing wrong with his legs."

    Safety Tod McBride (hamstring) is questionable; Fisher, Tercero (shoulder) and
    Butler (knee) are probable.

    Wistrom might play

    Defensive end Grant Wistrom has missed Seattle's past three games after
    suffering a small fracture in his left knee Oct. 17, but he is itching to face
    his former team Sunday at Edward Jones Dome. "That's natural; he has a lot of
    friends and loved ones there," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said Wednesday.
    "You want to play, and that's understandable, but I have to do the smart thing
    when it comes to him."

    Wistrom was listed as doubtful on Wednesday's injury report, which under NFL
    guidelines means there's a 50 percent chance that he'll play Sunday.

    Wistrom, a Webb City, Mo., native, spent his first six NFL seasons in St.
    Louis, and was a starter the past five years. He signed a $33 million
    free-agent contract with Seattle in the offseason. Wistrom had three tackles on
    Oct. 10, when the Rams rallied by the Seahawks 33-27 in overtime in Seattle.

    Snow will be roasted

    Rams broadcaster Jack Snow will be on the guest of honor Monday night at the
    Greater St. Louis Quarterback Club and the Juvenile Diabetes Research
    Foundation's third annual roast. Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Adam Timmerman, Tyoka
    Jackson, Sean Landeta and former coach Jim Hanifan are among those expected to
    take shots at Snow at the Sheraton Chalet Westport Hotel.

    Tickets for dinner and the roast are $60, with proceeds going to the Juvenile
    Diabetes Research Foundation. For information, call 314-855-5000.

  • #2
    Re: Special teams improvements, O-line musical chairs, and Wistrom

    I thought Tercero was doing a pretty solid job... not outstanding and making a few mistakes but i felt that they should have persevered.


    • #3
      Re: Special teams improvements, O-line musical chairs, and Wistrom

      I'm sure once he's healthy, they'll give him a shot.


      Related Topics


      • Nick
        Pace wins battle on line against former teammate Wistrom
        by Nick
        Pace wins battle on line against former teammate Wistrom
        By Jim Thomas
        Of the Post-Dispatch

        SEATTLE - They will meet at least once more this season, and perhaps many more times in seasons to come. But on Sunday, chalk up Round 1 of the Orlando Pace-Grant Wistrom matchup to Pace.

        "Grant plays hard, I know that," said Pace, the Rams' Pro Bowl left tackle.

        Then, unsuccessfully trying to suppress a smile, Pace added: "I don't how many plays he made."

        The short answer would be: Not many. According to unofficial press box stats, Wistrom had one solo tackle, two assists, and one pass breakup.

        "I don't think I played very well," Wistrom said. "I think I can play much better, and I expect to go out and play a lot better next week."

        Wistrom, a first-round draft pick by the Rams in 1998 and a five-year Rams starter, signed a $33 million free-agent contract with Seattle in the offseason. Much was made of Wistrom playing against his old team in the days leading up to the game.

        "It's just more distractions," Wistrom said.

        In pregame introductions, the Seahawks' defense was introduced at Qwest Field, with Wistrom saved for last.

        Martz shows patience

        Even though the Rams trailed 24-7 at halftime, coach Mike Martz took a patient approach on offense. Instead of abandoning the run in the third quarter, Martz made it a point to keep handing the ball off to Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson.

        "Mike said it was the way he had to do it," Pace said. "So he came out, he ran the ball. We were surprised, but I think that loosened (Seattle) up. That opened up the pass down the stretch."

        The Rams had only eight carries at halftime, but had 16 in the second half and overtime. "It was just unbelievable discipline on his part," guard Adam Timmerman said. "Because it would have been so easy to just start passing."

        A. Williams is hurt

        Safety Aeneas Williams suffered a pinched nerve in his shoulder with 1 minute 10 seconds remaining in the first half and did not return. He was replaced by Adam Archuleta in the base defense, with Kwamie Lassiter coming in as part of the nickel package.

        Williams is scheduled to have an MRI exam today in St. Louis. "So we'll find out, but I think I'll be fine," he said.

        Defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson left with a strained hamstring trying to chase down Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on a pass rush with 4 1/2 minutes left in the opening quarter. He did not return.

        Backup cornerback Dwight Anderson left the game briefly with a right shin injury on punt coverage midway through the first quarter. X-rays were negative and he returned early in the second quarter....
        -10-10-2004, 11:14 PM
      • RamWraith
        Wistrom's Address Changes, Effort Remains
        by RamWraith
        By Nick Wagoner
        Staff Writer

        In this day of free agency and big money contracts, it is rare for a player to stay in one place his entire career.

        Gone are the days of Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and John Elway, who played their entire careers in one place. Even Emmitt Smith, who was the defining player for the Dallasí dynasty of the 1990s, is playing for Arizona. The sight of someone like Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizardsí uniform will forever haunt Bullsí fans, who grew accustomed to Jordan winning championships in their black and red.

        Grant Wistrom seemed to be the kind of player who could spend his whole career in one place. The defensive end played his college football at Nebraska, and was drafted by the Rams in 1998 as the sixth pick overall. After six productive and winning seasons, Wistrom signed with the Seahawks on March 4.

        Wistrom said he always envisioned being the rare athlete to play from start to finish in the same city.

        ďI always envied the old (football) Cardinals that Iíd see around town, the guys that got to play there their whole career and got to retire there,Ē Wistrom said. ďI always wanted to be one of those guys. I donít think there couldíve been anything better, but obviously, the opportunity didnít present itself."

        ďI couldnít imagine being in a better situation than Iím in right now. Iím playing for a great organization. Iím playing for a great football team, in a city that Iím really starting to like. It would have been nice to have stayed in St. Louis, but those things donít always work out, so I couldnít imagine being happier anywhere else.Ē

        Some might ask why Wistrom would leave if he was so happy in St. Louis. If he was a free agent and had the right to choose, why wouldnít he choose to stay in a place he was so happy?

        The answer is free agency, money and a perfect opportunity. Wistrom was wanted in St. Louis as much as he wanted to stay. St. Louis wanted to keep him, but when push came to shove, Seattle made an offer that nobody else was even close to. Desperate for a leader on a young defensive line, the Seahawks were intent on making sure Wistrom didnít leave the Emerald City without putting pen to paper.

        The offer contained more numbers than Wistrom ever thought possible. He didnít leave. He signed a six-year, $33 million contract, with a $14 million signing bonus. That might seem like a lot of money for a defensive end who has never had more than 11 sacks. That kind of cash is usually reserved for the high-end pass rushers, but as Ramsí coach Mike Martz is quick to point out, Wistrom is well worth the money.

        ďSo many of these guys that get the money that Grant gets, they are pass rushers,Ē Martz said. ďThatís how they see themselves, as a specialist. Thatís not Grant. Heís the whole package, as we all know. He makes tackles, because he chases the...
        -10-08-2004, 07:11 PM
      • DJRamFan
        [Seahawks] Notebook: Seahawks hold breath on Lucas
        by DJRamFan
        By Josť Miguel Romero
        Seattle Times staff reporter

        E-mail this article
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        KIRKLAND ó The news on Seahawks cornerback Ken Lucas was positive yesterday, but the question of when he will play again remains.

        The answer hinges on his ability to do the most basic of things: Breathe.

        He was diagnosed with a bruised lung.

        The starter at right cornerback all season, Lucas left Sunday's game in the second quarter when he fell hard to the ground after breaking up a pass down the sideline for San Francisco's Brandon Lloyd. Lucas leapt to knock down the ball, and his chest was the first part of his body to hit the ground.

        To make matters worse, Lloyd landed on top of Lucas.

        Lucas was transported to San Francisco General Hospital after having trouble breathing. He was kept overnight for observation, then released yesterday. He returned to Seattle last night.

        "Typically, with this kind of injury, there's a 24-hour period where they have to watch the patient and make sure there's no more problems," coach Mike Holmgren said. "And Ken was doing fine. He (the doctor) equated it with someone in a car accident with the steering wheel hitting your chest and causing that sort of problem."


        Seattle at St. Louis, 10 a.m., Ch. 13

        Lucas was administered oxygen as he was wheeled off the field in a cart. Lucas was replaced by Kris Richard, and after the game Holmgren told reporters that Lucas had suffered a bruised chest.

        "No question about it, I was worried about him," said Richard, who spoke to Lucas yesterday morning via cell phone. "He tried to get up a couple times and fell back down. You see a guy trying to get back on his feet and falling down, and it's like, 'Ooh, wait a minute. That can't be that good.' "

        Holmgren expected Lucas to be at team headquarters tomorrow for treatment and meetings.

        "In Ken coming back to play, (the problem) won't be any sort of contact or blows here, it's his ability to breathe and get his lungs back so he can do cardiovascular type of activities," Holmgren said. "We were worried for him, prayed for him last night.

        "We have to just see how quickly he recovers and can breathe normally. That's my understanding, but we won't know for a couple of days."

        Engram, Wistrom hope to play

        Wide receiver Bobby Engram and defensive end Grant Wistrom, who have both missed the past three games with leg injuries, could be back Sunday against St. Louis.

        Both will try to practice this week. Wistrom is doubtful, Holmgren said, but Engram has a much better chance. ...
        -11-11-2004, 10:25 AM
      • RamDez
        Seahawks DE downplays matchup with former team
        by RamDez
        Seahawks DE downplays matchup with former team

        By TIM KORTE

        KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Grant Wistrom remembers the animosity on the field between NFC West rivals Seattle and St. Louis.

        Now, it's not so clear.

        Any free agent who switches teams within the same division knows what's coming twice a year: showdowns against former teammates and endless questions about how it's going to feel.

        That's the case this week for Wistrom, who spent his first six NFL seasons with the St. Louis Rams (2-2).

        "I think everybody is making a bigger deal about this than I am," said Wistrom, who ranks second on the Seahawks (3-0) with 2 1/2 sacks. "When the opening kickoff happens, you forget about all that stuff. It's just another football team."

        Oh, but there's a little extra invested for Wistrom this week.

        Not only is he facing his former teammates, but for the first time he'll line up against the potent Rams offense directed by his old coach, Mike Martz, a man he grew to know very well.

        Martz said Wistrom's departure had "a deep, deep emotional impact. He's like one of my family, like one of my kids."

        Wistrom's reasons for leaving were sound, Martz said. Wistrom received a $33 million contract that included a $14 million signing bonus, and Martz said he believes the star defender deserves that kind of money.

        "I don't look forward to playing him," Martz said. "I've watched him on tape and I think he's really playing very well."

        Wistrom went out of his way in recent years to stand up for Martz when he felt the coach was being unfairly maligned.

        "We were pretty tight," Wistrom said. "I really appreciate coach Martz. When he was catching a lot of heat, I always stood behind him. I told him that I believed in him as a coach, and I think he receives a lot of undue criticism."

        Another unusual experience for Wistrom will be matching up against five-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace. They routinely faced off in blocking drills, but Wistrom expects this to be different.

        "It's going to be a 60-minute battle," Wistrom said. "I practiced against him for six years, but Orlando's practice speed and his game speed are two different things. I'm going to have to work."

        There's one more twist.

        Wistrom was fined $5,000 by the NFL last season for flattening Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck during the Rams' 27-22 win in St. Louis. The next day, Hasselbeck called it "a great block."

        That's ancient history, though, because Hasselbeck understands Wistrom's full-throttle approach on the field. They're buddies now, and it's not unusual to see them trading good-natured barbs in the locker room.

        "He's just a good guy," Hasselbeck...
        -10-06-2004, 09:29 PM
      • RamDez
        Wistrom gets ready to face old team, and stand-in Bryce Fisher
        by RamDez
        Wistrom gets ready to face old team, and stand-in Bryce Fisher By Greg Bishop
        Seattle Times staff reporter

        KIRKLAND ó Funny how things work, lives intersecting and disconnecting, only to circle back in a way that seems impossible.

        Grant Wistrom was Midwest ethos at its best, a hard worker who stayed at home and did just that. He played high-school football in Webb City, Mo., college football at Nebraska and pro football in St. Louis.

        Then hard work met paydirt, and along came a $33 million contract, which included a $14 million signing bonus, which whisked Wistrom from his roots to Seattle and a division rival.

        And so who do the Rams replace Wistrom with? None other than Bryce Fisher, a Renton native and Seattle Prep graduate.

        And who do the Seahawks host this weekend? None other than the St. Louis Rams, Wistrom's former team, with one of his pupils manning his old position in the area in which the pupil grew up.

        Funny how things work. Although neither Fisher nor Wistrom laughed too hard.

        Said Wistrom: "You can hype it up all week long as much as you want. Everybody is making a bigger deal out of this than I am. It's just another football team, another opponent and a game we have to win."

        Said Fisher: "I expect it to be like any other road game. Except my mom will love it more."

        Wistrom knows this won't be like any other game. Too many memories involved. Too many old friends to shake hands with. Too much importance in the grand scheme of the NFC West, a division in which the Seahawks hold a 1Ĺ-game lead.

        Too much emotion, period.

        "There is a deep, deep emotional impact," St. Louis coach Mike Martz said of Wistrom leaving. "He's like one of my family, one of my kids. I just miss him. I do. I miss him."

        So does the Rams defense. Last season, St. Louis led the NFL with 46 takeaways, good for a turnover differential of plus-seven, seventh best in the NFL. The Rams, sans Wistrom, forced two turnovers in their last game, their only takeaways in their first four games, tied for last in the NFL.

        Meanwhile, the Seahawks, with Wistrom, have forced 10 turnovers, tied for fifth best in the league, for a plus-seven differential, third best in the NFL.

        "Wow," safety Aeneas Williams said. "The ability for a defensive end to make plays all over the field, almost like a linebacker, is contagious. You get big plays that are unexpected out of a defensive end being able to run and pursue. You get caused fumbles, tipped balls. I don't know if I've ever seen a defensive lineman with that kind of tenacity."

        One player can't make that much a difference. Can he?

        "You can talk about all those famous Seahawks ó the Matt Hasselbecks and so forth," ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth...
        -10-07-2004, 11:19 AM