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7/25/2008 11:05 AM
OT Orlando Pace  (United States)
Rams will be cautious with Pace
Wednesday,  July 23, 2008 3:02 AM
Associated Press
ST. LOUIS -- Seven-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Pace is close to returning from a shoulder injury, but he will not be cleared for full contact at the start of training camp Friday.

St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan said yesterday that the team would be conservative with the former Ohio State player, who suffered a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder in the 2007 season-opener.

Pace missed the remainder of the season, and his injury was among several that left the offensive line in shambles, a big reason for the Rams' dismal 3-13 record.

It was the second straight season with a significant injury for Pace, the first overall pick of the 1997 draft. He suffered a season-ending left triceps tear during Week 10 of 2006.

In all, Pace has missed 23 games in the past two years.

Linehan said Pace will be on the 80-man training camp roster, but will be brought along slowly.

"I think we have to be a little conservative with our approach just because of what has happened," Linehan said. "He's in pretty good shape right now. His weight is right where we want it, and it's just a matter of when we decide (he's fit for contact)."

Trainer Jim Anderson and strength and conditioning coach Dana LeDuc have been working with Pace in his recovery.

Linehan said he hopes that Pace will be declared fit for contact by Aug. 5, when the team leaves for Nashville for a few days of joint practice sessions against the Tennessee Titans prior to the two squads meeting in their exhibition opener Aug. 9.

• The Rams announced that they have agreed to terms with linebacker David Vobora, the "Mr. Irrelevant" as the last player chosen in the 2008 draft. Terms of the three-year contract were not disclosed.

Vobora, from Idaho, had 148 tackles and was All-Western Athletic Conference his senior season.


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