MACOMB, Ill. — Surrounded at a table by born-again Christian teammates, Kyle Turley, the tattoo-covered, wild and crazy, helmet-tossing offensive tackle for the St. Louis Rams, felt right at home.
“The religious right?” Turley said. “Certain people have certain viewpoints on life and certain people have others.
“You always get debates and people voice their opinions, and we were just having a friendly conversation.”
Turley, though outnumbered, said he felt he did well expressing the opposing viewpoint.
“It was a good debate, I’d have to say that,” he said. “I myself don’t shy away from confrontation. When put in the thick of it, I tend to do well.”
That goes for the field, too, with the Rams’ new right offensive tackle. Turley, acquired from the Saints for a second-round pick in the 2004 draft, has been dominant in training camp. He draws the continued from the
toughest assignments in pass protection drills, often taking on sack specialist Leonard Little, and almost always wins.
“He’s a gifted athlete with an attitude, and that’s what you want,” coach Mike Martz said.
The addition of Turley and center Dave Wohlabaugh makes the Rams’ line potentially one of the NFL’s best once All-Pro Orlando Pace ends his contract holdout. Rams quarterbacks absorbed a pounding last year, with Kurt Warner (broken pinkie, broken hand) and Marc Bulger (back) missing a lot of time.
Turley takes over for John St. Clair, a disappointment at right tackle last year. The addition of Wohlabaugh allows Andy McCollum, the center last year, to move to guard.
“You bring in a guy like Kyle who’s an all-Pro type guy, you’ve got to be excited about that,” Warner said. “Dave is going to be a great player for us, too. I think it’s going to be the best offensive line we’ve had.”
Turley was a colorful player with the Saints, known most for a helmet-tossing episode on national television in 2001. Turley confronted Jets safety Damien Robinson, who had grabbed the face mask of Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks.
Turley ended up with Robinson’s helmet, flinging it down the field, and then made an obscene gesture, actions that got him ejected.
In addition to the tattoos that cover his arms, Turley has wild, stringy hair and a menacing glare.
“That’s game day, man, that’s what people don’t understand,” Turley said. “As soon as you cross that line on game day it turns up another notch and it’s all business from there.”
Especially in training camp. These are his teammates, after all.
“Going out here and trying to be some wild and crazy guy, I guess what people think I am, and fighting all the time and whatnot is not productive,” Turley said. “It’s not going to get it done.”