Butler seeks many opinions on knee

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- This season still hangs in the balance for Jerametrius Butler, the St. Louis Rams' starting left cornerback the last two seasons.

Butler, who has a torn ligament in his right knee, visited a specialist in New York on Monday and was scheduled to see another in Alabama. Butler is trying to decide whether to attempt to strengthen the knee and play the season or undergo surgery that would sideline him for the year.

Butler led the Rams with five interceptions last season and four in 2003. Rams coach Mike Martz has thought he was leaning toward playing.

Making matters worse, Butler's backup, DeJuan Groce, missed much of Monday morning's practice with a bruised left knee. Another cornerback, Corey Ivey, missed practice with a sprained wrist, and a fourth, Duvol Thompson, is out with a broken hand that Martz said involved the "meta-whatever bones."

Martz did not believe the injury to Groce, who started four games last year and is entering his third season, was serious. He also was effusive in his praise.

"DeJuan Groce is having the best camp of all the corners so far, by far," Martz said. "He's been a standout. We look at him as a starter."

Turf woes no more

The new FieldTurf surface in the Edward Jones Dome drew mostly rave reviews from players after its debut in the preseason opener on Friday.

The team had only two days to break in the field, the same cushioning mix of rubber shavings and sand along with fake blades of grass as in use at the team's indoor facility for several years, before beating the Bears 17-13.

"Our players are really pleased with that surface," Martz said. "I think the next day the comment by everybody was how much better they felt."

Running back Steven Jackson broke a 33-yard carry early in the game and had 47 yards on seven carries.

"This turf is a lot softer, but it's not as fast as last year's track," Jackson said. "It should save a lot of careers."

Pace battles injury

Offensive tackle Orlando Pace (thigh) returned to practice after missing the preseason opener but did not finish the morning session when the injury flared up again.

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