Pace will undergo surgery soon

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Rams offensive lineman Orlando Pace will miss the rest of the season with a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder suffered in the season opener Sunday. (Associated Press file photo)

St. Louis placed its seven-time Pro Bowler on injured reserve.

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams placed left tackle Orlando Pace on injured reserve Wednesday, ending the seven-time Pro Bowl player's season after one game because of a shoulder injury.

A second player was added to compensate for another hole: defensive tackle Claude Wroten's four-week suspension Tuesday for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Pace will undergo surgery soon on a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff, and should need six months to recover. The Rams filled his roster spot by signing tackle Brandon Gorin, who made 18 starts for the Patriots between 2002 and 2005, including the team's Super Bowl victory in 2005.

"He had a good workout for us," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "It won't take him very long to pick up what we're doing."

Defensive tackle Louis Leonard was signed off the Chargers' practice squad to replace Wroten, a second-year player who has been a part of the defensive line rotation. Wroten has a sketchy past, dropping from first-round status in the 2006 draft after he was arrested for intent to distribute marijuana, a charge that was dropped, and then failed a drug test at the NFL combine.

In July, Wroten had more off-field issues when he was arrested on one count of simple criminal damage as a result of a dispute with his former girlfriend.

"I'm a big believer in Claude and I think Claude is a guy that really wants to do well in all aspects of his life," Linehan said. "Hopefully this is just a temporary setback.

"He really had a very good year for us last year. We had no issues at all that I'm aware of."

Wroten is the second Rams player to be suspended for substance abuse this year. Cornerback Fakhir Brown, who said he was suspended for missing a test, is out the first four games.

Linehan said it's a disappointing trend while realizing that no one is perfect, citing his 6-year-old son Marcus as an example.

"I would like to think that my three sons would go to school and come back with gold stars on every one of their assignments," Linehan said. "For the most part I have great boys, but every once in a while I get a report that young Marcus is talking too much in class and I have to talk to him."

The Rams knew they were taking a risk when they drafted Wroten.

"I've said that from the beginning," Linehan said. "Now, we're dealing with it."

The 6-foot-4, 330-pound Leonard is an undrafted rookie from Fresno State who impressed Linehan when the Rams played the Chargers in the preseason. He recalled Leonard being effective as the noseguard in a 3-4 alignment.

"I'm very impressed by his size and potential and ability," Linehan said. "He was a load for us."

St. Louis also waived fullback Madison Hedgecock, a seventh-round pick in 2005 who made 16 starts. Richard Owens, a 273-pound, four-year veteran, was signed as his replacement.

Owens played in 40 games over four seasons, including six starts with the Vikings, where Linehan served as offensive coordinator from 2002 to 2004. He was among the Vikings' final roster cuts earlier this month.

The Rams also signed cornerback Eric Bassey to the practice squad and waived cornerback Josh Lay from the practice squad. Bassey spent last year on the Buffalo Bills' practice squad and was among that team's final cuts earlier this month.

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