Behind Enemy Lines – Preseason Week #4

It's a battle of attrition as teams finish up the exhibition season this week and finalize rosters heading into the regular season.

St. Louis Rams – It could be a long season, protection-wise, for the Ram QBs. On Saturday the Rams places RT Kyle Turley on injured reserve, thus ending his season, and with franchise LT Orlando Pace still holding out, it has already been a long preseason for signal callers.

In week two of the preseason, the Rams were manhandled by the Chiefs front-seven in a 24-7 loss where starting QB Marc Bulger was battered and bruised. Bulger had an MRI on August 25th on his knee but results were negative. Bulger played against the Washington Redskins on August 27th and had a little more time completing 6 of 12 passes for 78 yards and one touchdown in a 28-3 win. Backup QB Chris Chandler followed up Bulger and completed 9 of 15 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Pace is expected back following this week's final preseason and the hope is that when Pace returns, that his fill-in, Grant Williams, will then slide over to the right side to take Turley's spot. RG Adam Timmerman, C Andy McCollum and LG Adam King have all been average at making adjustments so the addition of Pace is expected to work wonders for the line.

The loss of starting CB Travis Fisher, the Rams' best cover corner, for three to four months could really hurt the Rams this season. Fisher was a playmaker in his second season, accounting for four interceptions and mirroring the opposition's best wideout during games. The hope for the Rams is that the combination of second-year players Kevin Garrett and DeJuan Groce can rise to the occasion in Fisher's absence. Groce, who started one game last year, is a bit more refined than Garrett, but he's had some knee problems this summer, and Garrett has better speed. Garrett had a big play in the preseason game vs. the Redskins, forcing a Taylor Jacobs fumble that was recovered by Aeneas Williams. It was the first turnover forced by the Rams' first-string defense this preseason. Stay tuned…

Last Preseason Game: @ Oakland on September 2nd

Arizona – News on the injury front has not been good for new head coach Dennis Green. Besides the fact that the Cardinals will be without star WR Anquan Boldin (torn meniscus) in Week 1, don't be shocked if none of the team's big three receivers – rookie Larry Fitzgerald and Bryant Johnson being the other two -- is ready to start the regular season. Due to a bum ankle, Fitzgerald was not even close to practicing this week and Johnson, while better off than Fitzgerald, still is not practicing at full speed.

"If I try to rush back, I could just as easily be coming right back out," explained Johnson. "It was the first time I had ever had to sit like that in my career so it was definitely tough. I just have to take it one day at a time and hopefully be ready for the first regular season game."

One player that Green doesn't have to worry about is RDE Bertrand Berry. According to insiders Berry has already proved to be the best defensive end in a Cardinals uniform since Simeon Rice. The Cardinals' pass rush didn't really look much better through the first half of the preseason than it had the past few seasons, but in the second game vs. San Diego, the pressure picked up a bit, thanks mainly to Berry, who forced Chargers QB Drew Brees into throwing an interception on one play. Berry has also set a quietly effective example for the team's younger players, working as hard as any player in practice and never taking anything for granted.

"I have a lot of work to do from a pass-rush standpoint," he said. "No way I'm satisfied with what I've done. I will continue to put pressure on myself until I get it right."

Rookie DT Darnell Dockett, expected to start the regular season opener versus St. Louis on September 12th, has been a force along the defensive line and Green expects him to see most of his time this season at DE.

"I think Darnell has to play end and under and so today he played more under but he's primary an end," said Green. "We hope to do a lot of different things. We have to be multiple."

"It is really not my decision, but I feel like I can play either spot," Dockett said when pressed about where he'd prefer to play. "It is the head man's decision and today I worked inside at tackle. I am just trying to get settled in though so I can learn everything I need to know."

Final Preseason Game: @ Denver on September 2nd

San Francisco – Good news came in the form of LB Julian Peterson on August 25th, when the fifth year veteran signed his one-year tender offer of $6.074 million.

Peterson, after being designated the teams' franchise player in February, had missed the first 28 days of fall workouts as he and his agents were looking for a deal that would make him one of the league's top paid defensive players.

Peterson is expected to see time in the 49ers' final preseason game against San Diego.

Cody Pickett, the Niners' seventh-round draft choice in April's draft, was given the notice that he will be San Francisco's third QB this season when the team released Brandon Doman on Sunday.

"Brandon did well. He's a nice person. We just felt Cody (Pickett) physically really has some upside. So, that is why we kept him," head coach Dennis Erickson said. "The thing about Cody, as we all can see, is that physically he really has a lot of talent and has played well. We felt if he was out there, somebody may pick him up. We felt that was the best thing to do. He's played well. He'll play quite a bit more against San Diego, but we believe he is a guy that we can work with and develop because he has skills."

Pickett also might need to prepare himself for starting duties as designated starter Tim Rattay is still struggling with a myriad of injuries including tendonitis in his throwing arm and backup Ken Dorsey has been having difficulties with two protruding discs in his back. Dorsey's injury was quickly designated "day to day," but with memories of what former Niners QB Jeff Garcia went through a year ago at this time with a similar back condition still fresh in their minds, the Niners can't help but be a bit concerned.

Another injury that is causing concern is the condition of rookie DT Isaac Sopoaga who was having an excellent preseason. Sopoaga has been struggling to heal from a back injury and it hasn't improved enough to let him practice and it has not been getting any better.

Final Preseason Game: vs. San Diego on September 2nd

.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.

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