Turley departs camp with more back problems

Monday, August 2, 2004

The Rams' offensive tackle is concerned that his career may be in jeopardy.

By R.B. Fallstrom ~ The Associated Press

MACOMB, Ill. -- One day after re-injuring his surgically repaired back, St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Kyle Turley is leaving training camp to get further tests, and he's worried the situation could be career-threatening.

The team, however, is not as concerned yet. Turley's injury is classified as a back strain and a team source said he could conceivably return to the practice field within a few days.

"Obviously we're all disappointed that his back is still a problem," coach Mike Martz said. "Until we get all the facts in medically there's really no sense in talking about what if or any of those things."

Turley underwent an MRI exam Saturday night, the results of which he described as "not good," and on Sunday he was driving back to St. Louis. He also talked of possibly meeting with a back specialist, Dr. Robert Watkins, in Los Angeles.

"It was a threat to my career last year," Turley said. "For it to have possibly reoccurred is definitely a bigger threat.

"There's some things that could be seriously wrong again."

Martz said it was natural for Turley to be concerned.

"Whenever a player has this kind of injury and he can't go, they get a little depressed and down in the dumps," Martz said. "Obviously a lot of those things come across your mind, but we'll wait.

"We've got some time with this and we're going to be very careful."

Turley left the field on a cart during the morning practice on Saturday. He has been trying to build his strength since the surgery in March, after which he lost about 30 pounds and experienced atrophy in his right leg. He had been seeing limited action in workouts.

On Tuesday, when the Rams reported to training camp, Martz downplayed doubts about Turley's readiness. But Turley said Sunday that he may have tried to do too much at the start of camp.

"I think in general, being out here too early and going too hard too soon hurt me," Turley said. "A couple of plays in particular, you just get put in a bad position. It can happen to anybody at anytime, but I think I'm a little more vulnerable to it."

Last year was Turley's first with the Rams and he started all 16 games. But he was bothered much of the year by pain in his hip that turned out to be the herniated disc.

Turley's playing weight is 309 pounds, but he lost about 30 pounds due to the forced inactivity following surgery.

"It's been a long process and I came out here in hopes of everything being OK," Turley said. "I went through the first day of practice and things didn't seem like they were completely right, and I expressed my feelings about it."

Turley is determined not to undergo surgery again because of risks to his long-term health. Right now, the Rams have been treating the injury with anti-inflammatory drugs and Turley said they haven't helped much.

He wasn't looking forward to the three-hour drive back to St. Louis.

"I can drive, but it doesn't feel too good to be sitting too long," he said. "Or to be doing anything for too long."

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