Hargrove absence takes Rams by surprise

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The defensive end did not show for practice a second straight day.

ST. LOUIS -- Anthony Hargrove's unexcused two-day absence remained a mystery on Friday for the St. Louis Rams. The only certainty is that the defensive end will not be on the field this weekend.

Coach Scott Linehan said Hargrove had not been suspended, but would be fined. Rookie Victor Adeyanju will replace him in the lineup for Sunday's game at Arizona and Brandon Green, inactive the first two games, will be the backup at right end.

"It's not what you're supposed to do as a teammate and a team player and as a member of this organization," Linehan said. "The focus now is on who's going to be helping us on Sunday."

Linehan wouldn't say whether Hargrove would be suspended, but said the player would be fined and that the team would take "appropriate actions."

"He's just not playing," Linehan said. "You can call it what you want. There are several infractions, for sure."

The Rams (1-1) were optimistic about the availability of offensive tackle Orlando Pace, though. Pace was doubtful earlier in the week with a concussion sustained near the end of the first half of last week's 20-13 loss at San Francisco, but was upgraded to questionable on Thursday and participated in a light workout on Friday without restrictions.

Pace, a seven-time Pro Bowl and anchor of a line that lost center Andy McCollum to a season-ending knee injury in the opener, was expected to play pending results of medical tests Friday afternoon.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Pace said before leaving Rams Park to take the tests. "I got some work today and I'm not having any problems right now. We'll see how it goes."

Regarding Hargrove, the next move will be his after the Rams' efforts Thursday to reach him began with concern for his safety and ended in frustration. Linehan said Hargrove telephoned about 4 p.m. Thursday and assured the coach he was fine, and then was told to be at Rams Park at 6 p.m. for a meeting.

Linehan waited in vain for that meeting, and said the team had had no contact with Hargrove, a third-round pick in 2004 out of Georgia Tech, since then. He said he had no idea what prompted Hargrove to go AWOL, saying that there had been no real warning signs aside from "general things" that affect a lot of players, "but nothing to this extent at all."

In this age of easy telephone access, the Rams had been worried that Hargrove might have been in an accident. He finally called from his home.

"I don't know if it's a personal thing, I really don't," Linehan said. "I'm baffled."

Teammates were baffled, too.

"Mind-boggling," defensive tacke La'Roi Glover said. "We've just got to keep going."

Adeyanju refused to discuss the situation on Thursday on advice from Glover, an 11-year veteran who is one of the team captains. He skirted the subject pretty well on Friday, too.

"We need guys to step up," Adeyanju said. "This is a great opportunity for me to step up and help the team."

Pace was taken to a San Francisco hospital after getting bowled over and landing on his head on an extra-point attempt near the end of the half. Several 49ers overloaded Pace's spot on the right flank.

He said this was the first concussion of his 10-year career.

"I just remember getting hit and Dane Looker, who's the holder, said 'You hit your head just like Trent Green did last week,"' Pace said. "It was kind of fuzzy after that."

Earlier in the week, Pace said he was plagued by headaches, blurred vision and slower reaction time. Gradually, those symptoms have faded.

"Over the course of the week it's been getting better, day by day," Pace said. "So today's a better day."

Linehan went a step farther, saying Pace looked "great" in practice on Friday. The only caveat is that Friday practices are light on contact, so there was no test in that regard.

"We don't bang much, and I don't think anybody does on a Friday," Linehan said. "But he went full speed."

The only other player on the injury list, outside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, is almost certain to be in the lineup despite dislocating his left elbow last week and also being listed as questionable. Tinoisamoa would play in a brace that arrived in time for practice.

"He looks more and more ready," Linehan said. "I'd be really surprised if he doesn't play."

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