Rams to Meet Colts Without Martz

Rams assistant head coach Joe Vitt -- who started his coaching career with the Colts -- has been named interim head coach indefinitely for the Rams.

54-year old Mike Martz has returned to the hospital for what could be a four to twelve-day stay, and then an undetermined recuperation period thereafter, forcing him at minimum to miss next Monday night's game in Indianapolis.

Martz missed some of the Rams' practices last week, but was on the sidelines for last Sunday's game against the Rams. But today the Rams announced that assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt would be taking over the operation of the team indefinitely until Martz was healthy enough to return.

"After consulting with Mike, we have all agreed that assistant head coach Joe Vitt will be interim head coach of the Rams during Mike's absence," Rams President John Shaw said.

Vitt's likely debut as a head coach has an ironic twist. His first NFL coaching job was as the strength coach for the Baltimore Colts from 1979-1981. Since then, he's worked for the Seahawks and Packers coaching their defensive backs, and the Eagles and Chiefs as their linebackers coach. Unlike Martz, who is highly involved in the Rams' offensive attack, Vitt has never been an offensive coach. But he doesn't think that will be an issue.

"Steve Fairchild has done a lot of scripting in our minicamps, in our OTAs and in training camp," Vitt noted. "All of these guys on the offensive staff have been in this system for a long time. And this system has been highly successful for a long time with a lot of moving parts."

Martz said he believes he has endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the heart's valve or inner lining. Treatment is primarily by antibiotics over an extended period of time.

"This is something that if you let it go, it could become a real issue," Martz said. He acknowledged that he hadn't been feeling well for the past four to five weeks.


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