Sliding Rams shuffle roster, place Fisher, Pace on IR

Updated: November 14, 2006, 8:15 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Challenged by a four-game losing streak and a sudden spate of injuries, the St. Louis Rams, in peril now of tumbling out of playoff contention, made several roster moves on Tuesday aimed at addressing their multitude of problems.

Travis Fisher
Fisher
Orlando Pace
Pace

The Rams placed two veterans, perennial Pro Bowl left offensive tackle Orlando Pace and cornerback Travis Fisher, on injured reserve for the rest of the season. One of the premier left tackles in the league, Pace suffered a torn triceps during Sunday's loss at Seattle. Fisher, who had started all nine games for the 4-5 Rams, sustained a fractured forearm in the same game.

St. Louis also released kickoff return specialist J.R. Reed and defensive end Tony Bryant, who was signed only four weeks ago.

Signed to short-term contracts were offensive lineman Adam Haayer, kickoff return specialist Willie Ponder, defensive end Eric Moore and defensive back and special teams standout Chidi Iwuoma.

Moore signed a two-year contract, while the others all signed deals that run only through the rest of this season.

Perhaps the most notable of the additions was that of Ponder, who will immediately step in as the Rams' new kickoff returner, a position St. Louis has had a tough time filling and that Reed had held recently. The Rams lost tailback and kickoff return man Tony Fisher to a knee injury last week, after he had demonstrated promise in the return game.

A four-year veteran who spent three seasons with the New York Giants and part of this year with Seattle, Ponder has a career average of 25.6 yards on kickoff returns. He has two runbacks for touchdowns.

Recently released by New Orleans, the athletic Moore has potential as a pass rusher, and the Rams feel he can be a solid situational player for them. Iwuoma played four of his six seasons with Pittsburgh and was the Steelers' special teams captain until he was released in a surprising move in preseason.

Haayer is a five-year veteran who spent most of that time with the Minnesota Vikings and was in training camp with the Rams this summer. He has appeared in 20 games, playing at guard and tackle, and has logged five starts.

The acquisition of Haayer will alleviate some of the body-count problems on a line unit thinned by injuries but does not address the issue of who will replace Pace at left tackle. Rams coaches may decide to move right tackle Alex Barron to the left side, which the former first-rounder played in college. Another possibility is veteran Todd Steussie, who played left tackle much of his career but has been starting at left guard this season.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.