By Rams Nation's Howard Balzer
Mike Martz loves the new turf at the Rams' indoor practice facility. So do
his players. And having the softer FieldTurf will give him a lot more leeway
this season when bad weather presents itself. Last year, on bitter cold days
in January, Martz often had the team practicing outside because he didn't want
to subject the players' legs to the hard, unforgiving artificial surface inside.
That won't be the case this year. After seeing several players affected by the
heat during Monday's practice, Martz moved Tuesday's work inside.
"You get in a situation where the quality of the work is diminished and guys are just surviving practice," he said. "You know we're not playing outside this week, so we want to keep practice real brisk and we had a game plan practice today for San Diego."
"This (turf) is better for their legs than being outside on grass. This is more forgiving. So, they look forward to coming in here with the air conditioner and the other stuff. It's probably in the mid or upper 70s, but it's not like it is outside."
*New tackle Grant Williams participated in practice, and did a lot of individual work with line coach John Matsko on the side. After practice, he worked with Jackie Slater, along with tackles John St. Clair, Cameron Spikes and Andy King. According to sources, Williams will cost the Rams a sixth-round pick in the 2003 draft if he's on the active roster for eight games. Another report indicated Williams has to play in eight games for that pick to kick in. The actual condition will be confirmed Wednesday. Whether a sixth- or seventh-round pick, it's a bargain. Also consider the Rams will likely receive some compensatory picks in next year's draft for losing more free agents that they gained.
*The arrival of Williams and the release of tight end Giles Cole keeps the Rams at the 85-player limit. That includes five players with NFL Europe roster exemptions. By Tuesday (Aug. 27), the roster must be cut to 70.
*Coach Mike Martz insists that Williams' arrival does not mean St. Clair is out of a job. What is Martz supposed to say? Saturday, he said St. Clair is not ready to start an NFL regular season game. Today (Tuesday), he said St. Clair is playing well, and has looked good in practice this week.
Bottom line: St. Clair will play a lot Thursday night, and we'll see if those technique problems Martz talked about Saturday have improved. If not, Williams provides an option that was not previously there. For those wondering, Williams is wearing No. 72.