Rams recruit patches for holes in O-line

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

St. Louis has lured two players out of retirement in effort to fill gaping holes.

By Jim Salter ~ The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz said Tuesday he still doesn't know when -- or if -- offensive tackle Orlando Pace will end his holdout.

That's because Martz hasn't heard from the five-time Pro Bowler since the end of last season.

"I don't know what kind of shape he's in, what he's been doing," Martz said. "He has not returned any calls to our players or our coaches."

"I think that's the business aspect through his agent; that's the hard part of it."

The Rams certainly appear to need the help on the offensive line. The Kansas City Chiefs registered five sacks in a 24-7 preseason victory Monday night over St. Louis, and they pressured Rams quarterbacks all night.

The line has been torn apart by injuries.

Right tackle Kyle Turley remains out with a back injury, and his return is uncertain. Backup tackle Grant Williams played Monday despite an ankle injury and may not play Friday when the Rams, 0-2 in preseason, host the Washington Redskins. And St. Louis cut center Dave Wohlabaugh because of a hip injury.

Things appear so dire that two veteran offensive lineman -- Chris Dishman and Tom Nutten -- have been lured out of retirement, and Martz said both were rounding into shape.

He expects the line to be solid -- with or without Pace -- for the Sept. 12 opener at home against the Arizona Cardinals.

"We'll put out there a first unit that can compete and play well," Martz said.

Monday's loss was costly to more than the Rams' psyche. Cornerback Travis Fisher broke his right forearm and will have surgery Wednesday. Martz declined to guess when Fisher may return, but initial reports project that the player will miss most of the season.

Quarterback Marc Bulger will have an MRI on a knee that was hit in the first quarter against the Chiefs, though Martz said he does not believe the injury is serious.

Linebacker Tommy Polley suffered an arm injury and may miss up to a week of practice, Martz said.

Notes: The Rams said Tuesday they have released DT Richard Harris, WR Derek McCoy, LB Jason McWilliams, P Jesse Nicassio, TE Ryan Prince, LB Justin Smtih and WR Brian Sump.

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