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Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2001

Rams’ coach furious at media

Martz shoos photographers, TV cameras from field after snapping at question about two-back offense

September 6, 2001

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— St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz had to be talked out of closing practice Wednesday after he was asked about using running backs Marshall Faulk and Trung Canidate together in the backfield.

Martz also shooed photographers and TV cameras from the field early in practice.

Answering questions about the Rams' opener Sunday at Philadelphia, Martz snapped at a radio reporter who had noted the coach used the two backs at the same time last week in practice.

"Why don't you just give them our game plan?" Martz said. "Why don't you just tell them what we're doing? You've got to be kidding me.

"Maybe we shouldn't let you watch practice. Why don't you just give them a telegram?"

Many NFL teams close practice. But Rams practices have never been closed in St. Louis, where the team moved from the West Coast in 1995.

Faulk, the NFL's MVP last year, was used sparingly in the preseason as a precaution after undergoing two surgeries on his right knee since November. Canidate was the team's No. 1 draft pick last year, but missed most of the season with various injuries.

Meanwhile, Kurt Warner doesn't believe there's a target on his chest, even though both of the Rams' backup quarterbacks are untested.

"I don't think about that stuff," Warner said Wednesday. "I'm going to play my game and let the chips fall as they may and believe I'm going to be protected. That's how I'm going about business."

Warner enters this season as a mild health concern anyway, considering he sustained a concussion in the final regular-season game. He also missed five games last year with a broken hand.

The offensive line is hoping to form a brick wall.

"We just don't want our guy to get hit," tackle Ryan Tucker said. "Having a quarterback like Kurt Warner is an honor for us. Obviously, every play is like life and death."

If he goes down again, the player who'll have to step up in a hurry is Jamie Martin, signed on Sunday after being released by Jacksonville the same day. Martin has been a quick study thus far, to the point that coach Mike Martz named him the backup ahead of Marc Bulger on Wednesday.

"It is moving fast," Martin said. "My head's kind of swimming from everything, but I'll have some plays picked out that I can do and I'm good with and there's enough of them where I can get it done."

There's also a comfort level with Martin for Martz, considering he coached him with the Rams during Martin's previous stint with the team from 1993-96.

"It makes you a little nervous, obviously, but with each day that goes by I'm a little bit more relieved with it," Martz said. "Because Jamie is picking this thing up really quick."

Martz and Martin also were together with the Washington Redskins in 1997. Martz said Martin knows all the protection packages, the numbering scheme, adjustments and blitz checkoffs.

"The other part of it is he's very, very, very intelligent," Martz said. "He's a lot smarter than I am, which is nice."

Despite his familiarity with Martz's schemes and strategies, Martin said "90 percent" has changed.

"Obviously, it's going to be longer before I'm really comfortable with what I'm doing," Martin said. "But he must think I'm comfortable."

The Rams signed Martin after Martz abruptly tired of backup Joe Germaine, who had a rocky preseason. Germaine was traded Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he'll be the third-stringer behind Trent Green and Todd Collins.

All preseason, the Rams kept Warner under wraps. Warner 21-for-33 with one touchdown and two interceptions, and didn't play at all in the finale last Friday against the Chiefs.

He's not worried about any rust. "The biggest thing is when you get an opportunity, can you turn it on from the first snap to the last snap?" Warner said. "I felt good doing that when I played, even though I didn't play much, it didn't take me three or four series to get going."

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