Pace gives Rams scare with injury, exit on cart

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Precautionary X-rays to the tackle's leg came back negative.

ST. LOUIS -- It's a coach's nightmare, watching your star offensive tackle leave the field on a cart. That Orlando Pace escaped with a sore leg reduced Monday's mishap to just a scare for the St. Louis Rams.

A team spokesman said Pace had slight sprains to his right ankle and knee. Coach Scott Linehan said Pace's leg "kind of got rolled up" during a 9-on-7 drill early in practice, limped to a cart and then got a lift to the locker room.

X-rays taken as a precaution were negative for Pace, who has made it to the Pro Bowl the last seven seasons. He was day to day.

"It didn't appear after he walked it off that it was anything real serious, but we're going to take an X-ray, and when I know more about it I'll let you know," Linehan said.

Teammates didn't appear worried, either. Fullback Paul Smith called it one of those "freak things."

"You stress staying up in practice but guys are trying to go hard and it's hard to control," Smith said. "It's one of those deals, but nothing serious."

Rookie defensive tackle Claude Wroten watched the play from the sideline.

"He'll be all right," Wroten said. "No reason to be concerned about his injury or anything like that. It happens all the time. He's a tough guy."

The minor injury interrupted what Linehan said has been a strong camp for the anchor to the Rams' line, whose Pro Bowl run is tied for fourth in franchise history behind defensive tackle Merlin Olsen (14), offensive guard Tom Mack (11) and linebacker Les Richter (8).

Pace has been in camp on time the last two years after signing a seven-year extension in March 2005, further helping him hone his skills.

"We all know he can be a great pass protector, but I think it's been very good for his overall game," Linehan said. "I think he's stepped it up big time."

Losing Pace tested the depth of a somewhat battered offensive line. Guard Richie Incognito was back on the field after batting a virus for a few days, but guard Claude Terrell was limited to individual drills for the second straight day following a setback to his surgically-repaired right wrist. All-purpose fill-in Blaine Saipaia walked off the field groggily late in practice after getting "a little dinged up," in Linehan's words.

Todd Steussie, a 13-year veteran who played for Tampa Bay last season, finished Monday's morning practice with the first team at left tackle. Steussie, 35, is a two-time Pro Bowl player and has missed only two games since entering the NFL in 1994.

"I thought Steussie did great," Linehan said. "That's what Steussie does, he came in and did well.

"Certainly it's something we don't want to have to do very often, but we have 100 percent confidence in him."

Notes: RB Marshall Faulk, out for the season and facing reconstructive knee surgery that almost certainly will end his career, has officially joined the NFL Network as an analyst. "Marshall is widely regarded as one of the smartest football players of his generation," NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger said. "We expect him to be as versatile on our network as he is on the playing field." ... LB Raonall Smith was kept overnight in a hospital due to a severe turf burn that became infected, but was expected to participate in the evening practice. ... Punter Matt Turk, a 12-year veteran, may have pulled ahead of challenger Andy Groom after two impressive efforts in the preseason opener. He averaged 48 yards, and both punts were downed inside the 20, one of them backing the Colts up to the 2, the other ending up at the 11 after impressive 5.5-second hang time. Groom averaged 26 yards on two punts, one downed at the 17.

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