Draft picks on offensive line have yet to sign

Monday, August 1, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- Alex Barron, the St. Louis Rams' first-round pick, missed his fourth day of training camp Sunday while talks continued on a contract.

The sides may be getting closer to a deal because other players drafted near Barron have agreed to terms in recent days. NFL teams generally base first-year salaries on the contracts of comparable players. Barron was the 19th overall pick and Marcus Spears, the 20th pick, signed Sunday with the Cowboys.

Whenever the deal happens with the Florida State offensive tackle, it won't be soon enough for coach Mike Martz.

"It's really unfortunate," he said. "I'm not very pleased with it. I think those guys get a lot of bad advice from the agents and it's not going to change a whole lot."

Third-round pick Richie Incognito, an offensive tackle coming off knee surgery, also has not signed. Last year, the Rams signed all of their draft picks before the start of camp.

BYE-BYE MACOMB: Every day of training camp in St. Louis, the players seem to gain a greater appreciation of their surroundings. They're using their year-round locker room, they're staying in a hotel instead of a college dorm, and the team has topped 1,000 fans for each of the four morning practices.

Their families also are nearby, the aspect that defensive tackle Damione Lewis appreciates the most. His wife, Silvana, is five months' pregnant.

"It's just a lot easier knowing my wife is right around the corner," he said. "Rather than 2 1/2 hours away."

That's helping Lewis, a first-round pick in 2001 who has yet to fulfill expectations, get through his fifth training camp.

"It's like a three-phase step," he said. "You've got to go through the grind of training camp, you've got to go through the preseason, then the real thing starts."

QUARTERBACK TALK: To Martz' thinking, Jamie Martin has the backup job behind Marc Bulger sewn up.

Last year's would-be No. 2, Chris Chandler, didn't work out so well. And the coach seemed to be taking a shot at him.

"Really, the experience doesn't mean a lot to me, it really doesn't," Martz said. "I know he can play well, that's my comfort level. We've seen quarterbacks in the past that are experienced and they may not play well."

BRIEFLY: OT Matt Morgan sat out the morning workout a day after becoming dehydrated. "Normally you can come back but his was pretty radical, so we kept him off the field," Martz said. ... C Larry Turner, who played at about 285 pounds last year, is closer to 300 this year after the Rams asked him to get bigger. "He was way under weight in the spring," Martz said. "I think he's got a chance to be a pretty good player." ... Martz on the morning practice: "It's building to a crescendo every day. We're a ways away yet, but the focus is excellent, and I think the intensity is what we need."

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