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  • Easy does it, Martz says, for practice at WU

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Aug. 05 2005

    It was billed as a scrimmage when the Rams' training camp schedule was
    announced in mid-June. But that's not what will take place at 7 tonight when
    the Rams gather at Francis Field on the campus of Washington University.

    "It's not a scrimmage," coach Mike Martz said Friday. "There's no tackling.
    We're not charging any money for it. It's just practice. It's kind of like what
    happened out here today."

    Well, not exactly, but for fans who attended night practices at Hanson Field in
    Macomb when the Rams trained at Western Illinois University, it will look very
    familiar.

    During 11-on-11 "team" periods, the Rams will have coaches in the press box,
    headsets working and players standing on the sideline when not participating in
    a play. Substitutions will come on and off the field as they would in a game.

    "It's kind of like a (game day) dress rehearsal," Martz said.

    With limited contact.

    "It's not a competitive thing at all," Martz said. "We're going to do 48 plays
    and the kicking game and some seven-on-seven (drills)."

    With the Rams' preseason opener against Chicago just six days away, Martz also
    wanted to work at night; hence, the decision to work at Francis Field. (The
    Rams Park outdoor practice fields aren't lighted.)

    Admission is free at Francis Field, which seats 3,300. Parking is free, with
    spectators encouraged to park on the east end of campus near Skinker Boulevard.
    No video cameras, coolers or alcohol will be allowed. Concession stands will be
    open in the stadium.

    Spectators are asked to bring new school supplies to benefit the St. Louis
    Public Schools; they will be collected as fans enter the stadium.

    Normally, this is the time at training camp when the Rams scrimmage against
    another team. In six of the Rams' first 10 years in St. Louis, they have
    practiced and scrimmaged against another team:

    Last year, it was the Chicago Bears in Macomb.

    In 2000, the Tennessee Titans worked against the Rams in Macomb.

    In 1997, 1998, and 1999, the Rams worked with the Indianapolis Colts
    on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign.

    In 1996, the Rams worked against the Bears in Platteville, Wis.

    As he enters his sixth year as head coach, Martz says he no longer is
    interested in joint practices and scrimmages with another club.

    "I just don't want to do it anymore," Martz said. "It's just not worth it. It's
    a fight to keep your guys healthy, and then you throw them in that environment;
    there's always something bad happening. I just don't want to get involved with
    it anymore."

    Last season, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy was injured during one-on-one
    pass-rush drills during a Thursday afternoon practice against the Bears. He
    suffered a broken right foot and was sidelined until November.

    In 1996, starting safety Toby Wright suffered a torn hamstring during a joint
    practice session with the Bears. He missed three exhibition games and was
    slowed by the injury for much of the season.

    But the worst joint practice experience for the Rams came in 2000 against
    Tennessee, just six months removed from the teams' memorable Super Bowl XXXIV
    contest.

    First-round draft pick Trung Canidate suffered a severely sprained right ankle
    after a questionable hit from Titans defensive back George McCullough during
    what was supposed to be a non-contact drill.

    The injury all but ruined Canidate's rookie season and came a day after
    Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher challenged his team to be more aggressive in
    practice against the Rams.

    If that wasn't bad enough, the Rams also lost fourth-round draft pick Kaulana
    Noa, an offensive lineman, for the season with a wrist injury he suffered in
    practice against Tennessee.

    "When you scrimmage another team, you have to be very careful and selective of
    who it is," Martz said. "Because they're going to take a different approach
    than you do, and you end up getting guys hurt.

    "You don't want that scrimmage to be too competitive. You want to just look at
    personnel and get a different look. But there's just too many negatives to it.
    Every time we've scrimmaged anybody, there's always something out of line that
    happens."

    Even if Martz had a change of heart on working against another team, he thinks
    it would be impossible to pull off at Rams Park.

    "I think we have just enough room for the one team," Martz said. "And I have no
    interest in ever doing that."

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  • Nick
    Rams' progress leads Martz to skip a practice session - PD
    by Nick
    Rams' progress leads Martz to skip a practice session
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Jun. 07 2005

    Rams coach Mike Martz might have surprised himself more than anyone when he
    canceled practice Saturday afternoon. That move eliminated about 20 percent of
    the team's time on Rams Park fields for the three-day minicamp, something any
    NFL coach would be reluctant to do.

    But Martz was so happy with the progress he'd seen in the first three workouts,
    he felt comfortable giving his troops the afternoon off after a tough 2
    1/2-hour morning session in 90-degree heat. "To take a practice and not use it
    indicates you're pretty pleased," he explained.

    Martz's degree of satisfaction remained high after a two-hour practice wrapped
    up minicamp Sunday afternoon. "We're way ahead of the curve from where we've
    been in the past," he said. "Ninety-five percent of the squad has been here
    most of the time (for offseason workouts), which is highly unusual for any
    organization. They're prepared.

    "I can honestly say that I am pleased with the progress everywhere, which is
    probably a first."

    These aspects stood out:

    * The level of competition was considerably higher than last summer.
    "Absolutely. You can see it out there," third-year linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa
    said. "Whether it's the first or the second team, guys are flying around, even
    the third-team guys when they get out there. They're ready to compete."

    * The quality of the depth at several positions runs deeper. "That's
    the one thing on every squad that you try to have," Martz said. "If you're
    strong at the bottom of your roster with young players, then it's going to put
    a lot of pressure on the stars that you have. That makes you better."

    * The defense, which a year ago was getting its first exposure to
    new coordinator Larry Marmie, was perhaps the most impressive unit during
    minicamp, even though at least five new faces were manning first-team spots.
    "Everybody looked real good; there's a lot of competition," defensive end
    Leonard Little said.

    Martz was particularly enthused about the play of the cornerbacks, even though
    first-teamer Travis Fisher missed the last two practices because of a hip
    injury. "It was outstanding," Martz said. "We had the corners make more plays
    in these practices than we've had since all the time I've been here in
    practice. So that showed up real big, in my opinion."

    * The special teams, under the direction of first-year coach Bob
    Ligashesky, will work often, and hard. "I think the difference...
    -06-08-2005, 02:12 AM
  • Nick
    Rams go full contact during practice
    by Nick
    Martz, Rams tackle their problems
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Nov. 10 2004

    If he was Mad Mike on Monday, he became Really Mad Mike on Wednesday.

    The 2004 season has reached the critical-mass stage, and Mike Martz is doing
    everything he can to salvage it. Never mind the standings, the division race,
    or Sunday's NFC West showdown with Seattle. At the moment, Martz just wants the
    Rams to start playing better. A lot better.

    "I think the way we played in the last two games is embarrassing," Martz said
    Wednesday. "Not so much whether you win or lose the game - just the way we
    played the game. Period. We're going to do everything we can to rectify that."

    Including full-contact scrimmage work in practice.

    During the nine-on-seven run period, the first-team offense worked against the
    scout team defense. Then, the first-team defense worked against the scout team
    offense.

    With live tackling in both sessions. Yes, the Rams engaged in some live contact
    in training camp this summer, but those drills were performed almost totally by
    backups. Wednesday's work involved starters - basically everyone but running
    back Marshall Faulk on offense, and safety Aeneas Williams on defense.

    Scrimmaging in the regular season is unheard of in today's NFL. And it was a
    first for the "St. Louis" Rams. Not even in the Dick Vermeil days of three-hour
    practices did the Rams go full-contact.

    Longtime team officials said the Rams hadn't engaged in live practice
    scrimmaging in practice since the 1980s, during John Robinson's tenure as head
    coach.

    So Wednesday's work might fall under the category of desperate measures in
    desperate times. Martz wants the Rams to be more physical, and play a more
    violent brand of football. He wants them to block better. Tackle better.
    Compete better. Live tackling work in practices was a cattle prod to get that
    point across.

    "We've got a core of guys that you can hang your hat on," Martz said. "You can
    get out in the middle of the night, go out and practice them, and you're going
    to get all they've got.

    "What we're trying to do is get the rest of the guys up to that level. We were
    there for a while, and we've fallen off a little bit in a couple of key areas."

    So Wednesday's scrimmaging, coupled with Martz's message to the team Monday
    about accountability, are aimed at an attitude adjustment.

    "This is a game of attitude, pure and simple," Martz said. "It's not about
    ability. Never has been, never will be. Everybody in this league's got ability
    to play....
    -11-11-2004, 12:28 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams Wrap Up Practice Week
    by RamWraith
    Thursday, August 12, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    No, Rams’ coach Mike Martz didn’t have his days mixed up. With their first preseason game only a day away, the Rams wrapped up a relatively light week of practice the day following what was probably their toughest workout.

    Coach Mike Martz said Tuesday’s practice was the equivalent of a regular season Wednesday practice. The practice lasted nearly three hours, with St. Louis working hard every step of the way.

    “We’re trying to teach our guys about a regular, in-season Wednesday practice and these are always chaotic because guys don’t understand the scout teams, the changing of getting in and out of the huddle, the speed, the focus, all that kind of stuff,” Martz said. “We’re trying to get them ready for Thursday night. In these Wednesday practices before the first game, (we) attempt to teach all these new guys about game preparation and bring them along the best we can, so it was okay.”

    Wednesday’s actual practice was slightly more reserved, lasting a little more than two hours. Now, the Rams turn their attention to Thursday night’s preseason game against Chicago. Kickoff is slated for 7:05 p.m. at the Edward Jones Dome.

    The Rams will not practice Friday and Saturday and returns to Macomb for practice to begin Sunday. There will be a week of practice next week before camp breaks after a morning workout Friday.

    Martz said his team is ready to get in some real game action after a tough pair of weeks of training camp.
    “I’d like to see one step further than we were a week ago in terms of the crispness of it,” Martz said. “I’d like to win every one of them. In the middle of the game, I’m not thinking that this is preseason.”

    PT FOR THE ‘ONES’: Martz won’t predict how long his starters or any of his team will play, but did say he expects starting quarterback Marc Bulger to play.

    The starters probably won’t play much more than a series or two for fear of injuries. Martz said he chooses not to discuss how much playing time anyone will receive. Martz said Wednesday that running back Marshall Faulk will not participate.

    TURLEY TALES: The Rams medical staff heard from offensive tackle Kyle Turley’s agent earlier this week, but there were no updates on Turley’s condition.

    Turley left camp in the early stages with problems with a bulging disc in his back. Turley had offseason surgery on his back and tweaked it in the opening days of practice. He has since returned to St. Louis to visit with back specialists, traveled to Los Angeles to see another specialist and Atlanta to see a third doctor.

    Martz said he doesn’t yet know the extent of the injury, but he does know that Turley is upset by the turn of events. Martz said he will have some discussions this weekend about results of Turley’s back reviews and hopes to have...
    -08-12-2004, 11:52 AM
  • RamWraith
    Tuesday Notebook
    by RamWraith
    By NICK WAGONER
    Staff Writer

    When the Chicago Bears came to Macomb for a series of practices capped off by a scrimmage this past week, everyone assumed it was simply a matter of Rams’ coach Mike Martz calling Bears’ coach Lovie Smith and asking.

    That assumption would be wrong. Sure, Martz did ask Smith to come to Western Illinois University, but there is another reason for the added workouts with the neighbors to the north and John Oswald is his name.

    Oswald is in his third decade with the team and the Vice President of Operations since 1992. Every time the Rams go on a road trip, Oswald makes it happen. When the team moves its entire organization to training camp, Oswald makes it work.

    It was no different this past week, when Oswald brought the Bears and Rams together in Thompson Hall for three days seamlessly. Martz was one of the first to credit Oswald for his efforts. “Let me just say this,” Martz said. “John Oswald really orchestrates this whole thing. He is the one that does all of this. By golly, he does a fantastic job.”

    Oswald helped put together the scrimmage with Tennessee in 2000, so he had some experience doing it, but there were a few new wrinkles this year. The setup was similar in that the Titans and Bears were put in Western Illinois’ locker room, training room and equipment room.

    The biggest difference, though, was a change made in Thompson Hall. In 2000, there was no cafeteria for the teams to share, so they ate on the 18th floor. Since then, Western Illinois has put in a new cafeteria that has more than enough room for two football teams and their staff.

    Oswald said he can’t take all of the credit for the planning. “We started from when they check in to when they check out, what exactly is their schedule going to be like,” Oswald said. “We go through it piece by piece and then we incorporate the university here which is very helpful. “There were a wide range of people that really assisted with the scrimmage itself.”

    The university provided the teams with security, transport vans and set up meeting rooms. Like with any meeting involving that many people, Oswald said there were a few hiccups along the way and there will be a meeting to evaluate those mistakes so the problems can be corrected in future scrimmages.

    Oswald said he is always on the lookout for another scrimmage opportunity, so he can do his part to help break up the monotony of camp. “Overall it went off without a hitch,” Oswald said. “I give all the credit to the university and the city of Macomb.”

    Those two entities deserve credit for helping, but, as Martz said, without Oswald in a leadership role, it would have been difficult.

    ROSTER MOVE: Offensive guard Jason Lenzmeier arrived to give the Rams another body on their thinning offensive line. Lenzmeier got word of the opportunity while in Boise,...
    -08-12-2004, 05:42 AM
  • Curly Horns
    Rams in St. Louis to Remain a Solo Act
    by Curly Horns
    Wednesday, August 3, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    For fans in St. Louis, the opportunity to see their Rams up close and personal became a reality when the team moved its training camp back to Rams Park. But the opportunity to see an opposing team in the same light is probably not going to happen any time soon.

    After spending about a week in last year’s training camp working out with the Chicago Bears in Macomb, coach Mike Martz said Wednesday that he didn’t expect to have another team join the Rams in Earth City for a scrimmage either this year or for the foreseeable future.

    “When you scrimmage another team, you have to be very careful of who it is, very selective,” Martz said. “Because they are going to take a different approach than we do and we don’t want to get anybody hurt. You don’t want that scrimmage to be too competitive. You just want to look at personnel and different looks. There are just too many negatives to it.”

    In years past the Rams have held scrimmages against the Colts and the Titans. In many of those scrimmages and workouts, a number of fights have broken out and, subsequently, a number of injuries have been suffered.

    The tradeoff, of course, is the opportunity to create a competitive environment and break up the monotony of training camp. But those positives aren’t enough to outweigh the negatives, according to Martz.

    “Every time we have scrimmaged somebody there is always something happening,” Martz said. “That’s the nature of the beast. You have fights going on and guys getting injured. I just don’t want to do that anymore.”

    Further complicating a possible scrimmage is the logistics of what it would take to house and feed another team at Rams Park. In Macomb the Rams had the advantage of using a dorm so there was plenty of room for the opposing team to lay their head and night and feed their face during the day.

    In Earth City, there are a limited number of hotel rooms and there is only one locker room at Rams Park. Obviously, that locker room is reserved for the home team.

    “I think we have just enough for the one team,” Martz said. “I have no interest in ever doing that. I just don’t want to do that.”

    SCRIMMAGE SETUP: The Rams will change their pace a little on Saturday when they move their show to Washington University for a scrimmage at Francis Field.

    The scrimmage, though, is a scrimmage in name only. There will be no contact in any of the drills. Martz said the scrimmage is more like a normal night practice than anything.

    “That’s going to be a Scripted kind of a dress rehearsal,” Martz said. “It’s not a competitive thing at all. It’s a practice. We are not moving the chains. It will be just Scripted plays and situations, just looking at guys, getting ready for a game environment.”

    The scrimmage will...
    -08-03-2005, 08:57 PM
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