Job on the line

Monday, August 14, 2006

ST. LOUIS -- Claude Terrell started 10 games at left guard for the St. Louis Rams in his rookie season. This summer, he's had nothing but struggles.

Terrell likely would not have entered training camp with the first team because of the emergence of Richie Incognito, a third-round pick last year who missed all of last season after knee surgery.

Surgery on his right wrist in early January threw Terrell farther behind, and he aggravated the wrist lifting weights on Sunday, limiting him to noncontact activities.

Before that, Terrell had mostly been working with the third string. The Rams also were unhappy with his weight, listed at 330 pounds.

"I'm frustrated with it, to be honest with you," coach Scott Linehan said. "I would think he's frustrated."

That's an understatement. Terrell, a fourth-round pick last year who ascended largely due to injuries sustained by others, said the pain has never receded. He wants to have the wrist checked again by team doctors.

"If it ain't fixed, it ain't fixed, and you've got to take care of it," Terrell said. "But we'll get to the bottom of it and get this thing right so I can be the player I want to be."

Incognito also is not up to speed while fighting a respiratory illness, getting limited reps on Sunday because of dehydration. That left rookie seventh-rounder Mark Setterstrom as the first-teamer on Sunday.

"The problem is frustration does nothing, it's just a negative emotion," Linehan said. "So we've just got to evaluate how he's doing and feel good that someone else is getting some very quality reps right now."

The Rams had been happy with Terrell's progress up to this point. Linehan said Terrell has been wearing a new splint on the wrist.

Terrell said he didn't know how he aggravated the injury.

"I've just got to go see the doctor again and see what's wrong," he said. "I don't know, things just look cloudy for me right now."

Despite his injury woes, Terrell said eventually he'll get to show his new coach what he can do.

"I've been fighting an uphill battle, trying to get myself in that first 11," Terrell said. "When I'm 100 percent and I'm allowed the opportunity, I'll let the people see."

Noteworthy

* Rookie tight end Dominique Byrd, a third-round pick who began training camp in a job share with fellow rookie and second-rounder Joe Klopfenstein, has fallen back into the pack, although Linehan emphasized that things could change quickly. "He's not unlike a lot of young players, he just needs to develop a certain level of consistency that is acceptable," Linehan said.

* Linehan said the battle for third-string quarterback remains wide open, discounting Dave Ragone's interception in the end zone in the preseason opener. "If you take away the interception, I think Dave played real well for his first time in live action." Ragone is battling Ryan Fitzpatrick for the third-string job.

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