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'Just like old times' on Rams line? We'll find out

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  • 'Just like old times' on Rams line? We'll find out

    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist

    Guard Tom Nutten assumed his old position at left guard Sunday afternoon at the Edward Jones Dome.

    Orlando Pace was to his left, Andy McCollum and Adam Timmerman to his right -– just like during the glory days of the Rams offense.

    “It’s like old times out there,” McCollum said. “It was good to have him there. He did a good job. I think he can be even better this week.”

    Nutten experienced some flashbacks during that victory over the Seattle Seahawks. “It felt strange, but it felt good at the same time,” he said. “It felt natural. There are a lot of emotions out there . . . it felt good.”

    The Rams are glad to hear it, because Nutten is suddenly critical to this team’s quest for another division title.

    Rams quarterback Marc Bulger is clicking these days. Running back Marshall Faulk has the old spring in his step and rookie Steven Jackson adds the power-running component the team has lacked for years.

    Receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce are playing brilliantly this season. Youngsters Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald are developing into significant threats and tight ends Brandon Manumaleuna and Cam Cleeland are factors, too.

    The offense is poised for a big finish this season . . . if the offensive line can somehow hold up. And that’s the big if.

    Who could have foreseen all the calamities that have befallen this unit?

    Would-be starters Dave Wohlabaugh and Kyle Turley are distant memories now, having failed to fully recover from offseason surgery. Promising youngster Scott Tercero just got wiped out by shoulder surgery.

    Poor Chris Dishman just injured his good knee, sidelining him for an indefinite period of time. “I tore my MCL, so we’ll see how long that will take,” Dishman said Wednesday, slowly removing a bulky brace from his left knee.

    He tried to play hurt against the Seahawks, but couldn’t.

    “I braced it up,” Dishman said. “I thought I could do it and I went out and tried to make an adjustment on a linebacker and at that point I knew something was wrong. My knee kind of flopped out to the side and I thought something was not right. It was better for Tommy to go in.”

    Nutten came out of retirement to assist the Rams this season after injuries depleted the offensive line. While he was trying to scrape off his rust and regain his playing strength, he suffered a “turf injury” that hobbled him for a couple of months.

    Now his strength is up and his toe feels great. The chronic elbow injury that prompted his retirement has cleared up and so have his chronic ankle woes.

    “Tom, it was a big key for us to have him there,” Dishman said. “He went in and did a great job. He’s a seven-year guy. He hasn’t been away from the game that long. He was coaching, so the Xs and Os were still there.”

    Nutten is only too happy to put down the clipboard and lend a hand.

    “I didn’t come back here just to be a training dummy,” he said. “That’s what I worked hard for the last 2 ˝ months. I wished it wouldn’t have happened because I didn’t want to see anybody get hurt. All of a sudden we had a couple people go down, Scott with his shoulder, and Dish with his knee. That’s what I’m here for.”

    The nostalgia wave has begun to sweep over the locker room and meeting rooms. The linemen are teasing each other just like they did in the good old days.

    “We always kid Tom,” McCollum said. “When he left, when he was here . . .”

    Why is that?

    “Because he can take it,” McCollum said. “He’s a good guy, he can take it. And, you know, he’s a foreigner.”

    That’s right, Nutten speaks fluent German and he grew up in Quebec.

    “Him and Adam get at it really bad,” McCollum said with a straight face “They get serious. I’ve got to step in and make nice with everybody.”

    The chatter sounds the same as it did a few years ago. But will they look the same as they did during the Super Bowl runs?

    If so, the Rams might do more than just talk about their glory days. They might relive them.

  • #2
    Re: 'Just like old times' on Rams line? We'll find out

    I like Nutten. Let's hope he can play like he did back in the day.


    • #3
      Re: 'Just like old times' on Rams line? We'll find out

      If he can help open holes in the running game to free up the passing game in Buffalo, I'll take it.


      • #4
        Re: 'Just like old times' on Rams line? We'll find out

        we can't ignore that its still a short term solution though..


        • #5
          Re: 'Just like old times' on Rams line? We'll find out

          It sounds good on paper to say that the offense is playing well, but I can't help but be a little concerned that after putting up a quick 17 on Seattle, the offense squeeked out only 6 more the rest of the game.

          I have never felt that this offense is anywhere near the jugernaut of a few years ago, but Martz and others are talking like it could be as explosive...

          But wouldn't the old team have taken that 17 points in the first quarter and put up 40 by games end?

          Have the Rams even scored 30 this year? I like the way things are progressing on offense, but I think they need to keep the petal to the metal and start putting a higher goal on points per game.


          • #6
            Re: 'Just like old times' on Rams line? We'll find out

            Some of you seem to have quickly forgotten how pathetic RT was back in the "good 'ole day" with those 4. If we continue to find out that this is still unbearably true, then I too want to go lay down somewhere and die. I also seem to remember a lot of pressure coming up the middle at the most inopportune times. But, hey, ready or not Old Home Week here we come.


            • #7
              Re: 'Just like old times' on Rams line? We'll find out

              we can't ignore that its still a short term solution though..
              Is it? I think Nutten can be a factor for the rest of this year, maybe even next year.


              Related Topics


              • RamWraith
                Nutten is ready for his encore
                by RamWraith
                By Jim Thomas
                Of the Post-Dispatch

                There was a time late in Sunday's game against Seattle when Mike Martz looked out at the Rams' offensive huddle from the sideline and saw the numbers 76, 61, 67, 62. . . .

                "It just brought back old memories," Martz said.

                Suddenly it was 2001 all over again.

                For much of the Greatest Show on Turf period - those three seasons of 500-plus points from 1999 through 2001 - offensive linemen Orlando Pace, Tom Nutten, Andy McCollum and Adam Timmerman did much of the heavy lifting for the Rams' high-wire act.

                Now, a succession of injuries at left guard has brought Nutten all the way back - from retirement to the Rams' starting lineup.

                "It's like old times," said McCollum, the Rams' center. "He's back. I don't know if you watched him much at the (Seattle) game, but he looked really good. Like his old self."

                With Scott Tercero a pregame scratch because of a shoulder injury, Nutten was the Rams' next option when Chris Dishman went down early in the third quarter with a knee injury. Dishman tried to return later in the quarter, but after a couple of plays gave way for good to Nutten.

                For Nutten, 33, it was his first extended playing time in two years.

                "It felt strange, but it felt good at the same time," he said. "It felt natural. There were a lot of emotions that I went through."

                Tercero was put on the injured reserve list Tuesday, ending his season, and he will need surgery on the shoulder. Dishman suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, an injury that won't require surgery but will sideline him for four to six weeks.

                So as the Rams continue their drive for the playoffs, they are counting on Nutten to fill the void at left guard, perhaps for the rest of the regular season.

                "I'm pretty excited," he said Wednesday. "I think somebody said 'anxious' is a good word. We're just starting our work week, so I've got to settle myself down a little bit and make sure I don't peak too early."

                When Nutten takes the field Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., it will be almost two years to the day since his last NFL start. On Nov. 24, 2002, Nutten suffered a season-ending broken leg against Washington. The last glimpse of Nutten as a Ram that day was doing an interview for a German television crew in the visitors' locker room at FedEx Field. Nutten, who spent much of his youth in Germany, speaks fluent German.

                Unable to offer Nutten much more than a minimum contract in free agency, the Rams could do little but sit and watch him sign with the New York Jets the following offseason.

                "I hated losing him," Martz said. "I really like him. He got out there and got a little disillusioned....
                -11-18-2004, 06:06 AM
              • RamWraith
                Martz turns to Nutten to hold down left guard
                by RamWraith
                By Bill Coats
                Of the Post-Dispatch
                Friday, Aug. 26 2005

                The Rams' merry-go-round at left guard continued Friday, when veteran Tom
                Nutten took the snaps with the first team. On Wednesday, Blaine Saipaia was
                with the "ones." On Thursday, it was rookie Claude Terrell.

                Coach Mike Martz said Nutten would start Monday night in Detroit, meaning that
                four of the five starters from the Super Bowl championship team of 2000 -
                Nutten, left tackle Orlando Pace, center Andy McCollum and right guard Adam
                Timmerman - will be lining up together.

                "We're trying to settle in on some guys. It's been awhile since we've been able
                to do that," Martz said. "We're starting to jell a little bit on offense,
                starting to get some things going."

                Nutten opened at right guard in the preseason opener versus Chicago, as
                Timmerman continued his recovery from three offseason operatons. On Sunday in
                San Diego, Saipaia took over that role and Nutten played sparingly. Timmerman
                is expected to see his first game action of the exhibition season versus the

                "I think they're still playing with a couple of things," said Nutten, who
                missed Thursday's practice because he was ill. "I told them, 'I'll do my best
                wherever you put me.' And it seems like this week, they're moving me back to
                left guard."

                Nutten is rounding back into playing shape after undergoing reconstructive
                surgery on his right big toe in the offseason. Nutten said the toe "lets me
                know that it's there, but it seems like it's getting a little bit better.
                Considering what I've been through, I'm actually kind of happy.

                "Of course, I'll always wish to be back to how it was before, but it never will
                be. But it's coming around." Nutten, 34, was a four-year starter at left guard
                for Rams before signing with the New York Jets as a free agent in 2003. A
                nagging elbow injury prompted him to retire five months later, and he was off
                to NFL Europe, where he served as an assistant coach with the Cologne
                Centurions. Martz lured him back last October, and he played in eight games,
                starting six at left guard despite the toe injury and a banged-up knee.

                One person who would welcome some stability on the line is quarterback Marc
                Bulger. "It's been a little difficult in camp, with a couple of injuries and
                ... Alex (Barron) coming in late," Bulger said. "But that's what's good about
                having two weeks left. You want to get into the regular season, but I think
                they need that work together. We're still moving guys around, but I think in
                the next two weeks, it'll come together."

                -08-27-2005, 05:18 AM
              • RamDez
                Tercero is a "warrior" chasing Mexican roots
                by RamDez
                Tercero is a "warrior" chasing Mexican roots
                By Bill Coats

                Of the Post-Dispatch
                Rams guard Scott Tercero keeps an eye on his man in training camp. Tercero is expected to start at left guard in place of injured Chris Dishman on Sunday afternoon.
                (Chris Lee/P-D)

                Although he was born and raised in the United States, Rams guard Scott Tercero remains curious about his Mexican ancestry.

                "I think a lot of third- and fourth-generation children lose track of their heritage," Tercero said. "I've been trying to find out about the area where my grandparents grew up."

                That would be Zacatecas, a city of 117,500 situated in central Mexico, about 400 miles northwest of Mexico City. Tercero had scheduled a trip there, but illness forced him to cancel.

                Richard and Theresa Tercero reared their family - Scott, plus younger siblings Brent, Grant and Alison - in Pico Rivera, a suburb east of Los Angeles. As a youngster, Scott said, learning about his Mexican roots "wasn't that big of a deal."

                But as he grew older, Scott's interest in his family's background increased. He intends to plan a trip to Zacatecas, home of Mexico's oldest bull ring but hardly a hotbed of NFL fans. If Tercero continues to make a name for himself with the Rams, perhaps that will change.

                Tercero, a second-year pro from Cal-Berkeley, is expected to start at left guard in place of injured Chris Dishman on Sunday, when the Rams (2-2) face the Seahawks (3-0) in Seattle in an NFC West showdown. Tercero, the Rams' sixth-round draft choice in 2003, made his first career start last Sunday in the Rams' 24-14 victory at San Francisco.

                "I had a lot of family there and a lot of friends, so it added that much more to the excitement," said Tercero, who will turn 23 on Oct. 28. "A lot of people that are important to me got to see me play in my first start."

                They saw him play well, according to left tackle Orlando Pace.

                "Scotty played great," Pace said. "He broke a bone in his hand, and that just goes to show how tough he is: He stayed in the game. He's a warrior out there."

                After reviewing Tercero's performance on tape, coach Mike Martz echoed Pace's assessment. Martz said one play in particular stood out.

                "I don't know how he saw this linebacker coming on a pitch play where Steven (Jackson) took it down to about the 10-yard line," Martz said. "He saw (the linebacker) and turned back in and got him. He has an awareness that's really unusual."

                Apprised of Martz's wonderment over the play, Tercero laughed and claimed to possess no special skills in clairvoyance.

                "I wouldn't say that I have a sixth sense," he said. "You play the game
                -10-10-2004, 01:19 AM
              • RamDez
                O-line's subs rise to occasion
                by RamDez
                O-line's subs rise to occasion
                By Bill Coats
                Of the Post-Dispatch
                Sunday, Nov. 14 2004

                Orlando Pace had been ejected. Chris Dishman had been injured. And suddenly the
                Rams' offensive line sported a new look.

                Grant Williams moved from right tackle to Pace's spot at left tackle. Blaine
                Saipaia took over at right tackle. Tom Nutten slid into Dishman's left guard
                position. And the Rams' offensive line didn't miss a beat in the last
                quarter-plus in a 23-12 victory Sunday over Seattle at Edward Jones Dome.

                "It's kind of like the worst-case scenario," said Saipaia, who had appeared in
                one game in four previous NFL seasons - on special teams. "But everybody on the
                line all are players. You plug us in anywhere, and we'll all perform and give
                you a good product."

                Good enough to stand tall in a brutish 86-yard drive on the Rams' last
                possession that culminated in a 23-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins and a
                virtually insurmountable two- score spread with 26 seconds remaining.

                Dishman suffered a sprained right knee early in the third quarter and will have
                an MRI today. He returned for one series "but it was just giving out on me. So
                I think Tommy was a better choice," he said.

                Other than a brief goal-line appearance earlier this year in San Francisco,
                Nutten hadn't played in an NFL game since 2002. He retired before the start of
                the 2003 season but was lured back by coach Mike Martz in late August when the
                Rams were severely short-handed on the offensive line.

                "Obviously, there was pressure; I'd be lying if I'd say it was like riding a
                bike," said Nutten, who has been bothered by a toe injury and was inactive for
                six of the first eight games. Nutten was a Rams starter from 1999 through 2002,
                a span that included two Super Bowl appearances.

                "We've won an awful lot of games with Tommy Nutten at the left guard spot,"
                Martz said. "Tommy came in and did just an extraordinary job."

                Pace was tossed with 5 minutes 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter. He
                was involved in a scrum after the Seahawks recovered a fumble by Rams running
                back Marshall Faulk. Referee Bill Leavy said he saw Pace "pull the side judge
                (Don Carlson) down to the ground" during the scuffle, but Pace contended that
                he was "just trying to hold myself up ... I'd never intentionally try to hit a

                Williams manned left tackle for the first time since the preseason. He said
                swapping sides is "not fun. But fortunately you don't have time to think about

                And on came Saipaia, a free-agent pickup on Sept. 8 who hadn't been on the
                45-man roster for any of...
                -11-14-2004, 11:17 PM
              • RamWraith
                Nutten is doubtful, but may play
                by RamWraith
                By Jim Thomas
                Of the Post-Dispatch
                Wednesday, Jan. 05 2005

                Will there be a changing of the (left) guard Saturday in Seattle?

                During his regular Wednesday press conference at Rams Park, coach Mike Martz
                all but declared rookie Larry Turner the starter against Seattle. When the
                official injury report came out in the afternoon, Tom Nutten was listed as
                doubtful with a left knee injury.

                But while Turner took the reps with the starters at left guard in practice,
                Nutten was running on the side. And running surprisingly well, which caused
                Martz to change his tune after practice.

                "Tommy may play this week," Martz said. "He's going to practice (Thursday), so
                we'll see. There's a real chance we'll have him up. I was very, very

                According to Martz, Nutten has a torn medial collateral ligament in the knee.
                He played with the injury for a few weeks but, after aggravating it in
                mid-December, did not play against Arizona.

                Nutten was back in the lineup against Philadelphia on Dec. 27 and played well.
                But he suffered another setback late in the third quarter against the New York
                Jets on Sunday and didn't return.

                "I think half the pile came down on the outside of my knee," Nutten said. "I
                felt something in there and right away knew that was it for the day."

                He was still walking with a limp Monday but said the knee felt a lot better. By
                Wednesday, it felt well enough to test the knee with some running.

                Normally, if a Rams player doesn't practice during the week, he doesn't play on
                the weekend. But with the playoffs at hand, Martz sounds willing to take things
                down to the wire if necessary with Nutten.

                "If he goes out in pregame and practices well, he'll play," Martz said. "He's
                just got too much experience and is too good a player."

                Despite having rust to knock off after being out of football last season,
                Nutten, 33, remains a savvy pass blocker and an effective run blocker. He has
                started seven playoff games as a Ram, including two Super Bowls, and that kind
                of experience is invaluable this time of year.

                Nutten was talked out of retirement by the Rams in late August and had to get
                his weight back up to the 300-pound level. Then he battled a turf toe problem
                after just a week with the club. Just when it seemed he was over the nagging
                turf toe injury, along came the knee problem.

                But there aren't many players on the squad who don't have some kind of ailment
                this far into the season.

                "It seems like the season is gruelingly long," Nutten said. "And I was
                -01-06-2005, 05:27 AM