Bulger, Rams moving forward with new system, without stalwarts

ST. LOUIS -- Only one holdover remains from the St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl heyday entering the start of offseason conditioning. Not that players seem overly torn up about it.

Perhaps that's because they're preoccupied with learning new coach Steve Spagnuolo's system. Quarterback Marc Bulger said he'll miss recently released wide receiver Torry Holt and offensive tackle Orlando Pace, but he has plenty on his mind.

Pat Shurmur is the sixth play-caller or offensive coordinator with whom Bulger has worked since 2002, and Dick Curl is his fifth quarterback coach.

"This is definitely going to be the most trying, different scheme that I've had," Bulger said. "But I think it's a good thing that it's a whole fresh start and we all have to start from scratch."

Bulger noted that change is just part of the game. Defensive end Leonard Little is the only player left from the 1999 and 2001 Super Bowl teams, surviving three coaching changes.

"I'm so used to having Torry and Orlando in the huddle, but with salary-cap issues and a coaching change, you know those things are going to happen," Bulger said. "The team's turned over completely in the last eight or nine years, so it's one of the parts of the business that you don't like."

Bulger said the terminology in the current system is opposite of what he's accustomed to, with words instead of numbers as the base. He noted that everyone was on the ground floor learning a system that he said would be easiest on the team's young corps of wide receivers.

"It more or less puts more pressure on the quarterback and the line and the backs to make their calls," Bulger said. "The receivers, they can just run, use their speed and make plays.

"It's still football. It's not going to be rocket science."

The Rams' wide receivers are extremely young, led by Donnie Avery -- who was second on the team with 53 catches, a 12.7-yard per catch average and three touchdowns as a rookie in 2008. Bulger said he'll throw to "whoever's out there" and expects a strong comeback from tight end Randy McMichael, who missed most of last season because of a broken leg and ligament damage.

Bulger added that most rookies struggle, even those not on 2-14 teams.

"I think no matter what system it was, they were going to be a little tentative," Bulger said. "Having that year under their belt and with a system like this, it's just going to be double good.

"There won't be all the thinking, the anxiety."

Devaney on Rams identity

Rams executive vice president Billy Devaney spoke to Rich Eisen Tuesday about the release of Torry Holt and Orlando Pace: "When you make a move like that to release two players who really have Hall of Fame credentials, and are just really, really good people and true professionals, there's always more than one reason." More ...

Cornerback Ron Bartell, who tested free agency before signing a four-year, $28 million contract with the Rams earlier this month, said it's time for the team to develop new leaders. He plans on being one of them.

"Those guys will be missed around here, but guys are going to have to step it up, such as myself and other guys," Bartell said. "I think guys are prepared for that."

The defense has been completely overhauled, too, so there will be more growing pains. Bartell said the playbook is "like Chinese right now."

Bartell also likes the aggressive, attacking philosophy.

"Guys are really going to have to buy into what they're trying to get done," Bartell said. "We can't do it the old way because the old way wasn't working. So guys are going to have study hard, work hard, stay longer, and hopefully, we get good results."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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