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Getting defensive

Turley wants to bring his intensity to DE position

Posted: Friday June 10, 2005 1:25PM; Updated: Friday June 10, 2005 3:29PM
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Kyle Turley, a former Pro Bowl offensive lineman, hopes to switch to defensive end, although he is currently not on a team.
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He was on his way to a gig, getting jacked up for a couple hours of shirtless skins-slapping -- and when you are the drummer for a band named Perpetual Death Mode, your biceps had best be prepared to do some serious throbbing.

"Oh, I'm gonna pound those things," Kyle Turley said in his typical, subtlety-deprived tone. "Our music is super heavy, super hard and super fast. It's bad-ass, man. And yeah, I've gotta take the shirt off, so I can show off my f---- abs."

Turley has been part of this death-metal-thrash quartet for several weeks now, and in case you're working up the courage to tell this long-haired, heavily tattooed rhythm-keeper to keep his day job, don't bother: Turley officially lost it on Monday, when the St. Louis Rams waived the former All-Pro tackle after he failed a physical.

Still ailing from the serious back injury that kept him out for all of the 2004 season, the 6-foot-5 Turley at one point shrunk down to 235 pounds during rehab, a process he says is still three to six months away from completion. He has since bulked up to 260 ("I've put on 30 pounds of solid muscle," he said) -- 50 pounds short of his listed weight going into '04, but buff enough to allow him to switch to defensive end, which would be quite a dramatic move for the soon-to-be-30-year-old.

"With my intensity and athletic ability, I think that would be a natural switch," Turley said in a phone interview on Thursday night. "I'm just as fast as almost all those [defensive ends] out there, and as athletic, or more, than half of them. And my tenacity supersedes all of that. There are a lot of guys at that position who have gotten paid that are a bunch of slaps, and I know I could do better than them."

If Turley seems a tad disdainful of his would-be peers, some back story is in order. As part of a 2003 Sports Illustrated package on offensive linemen -- for which he was the cover subject -- Turley told Josh Elliott he regarded his defensive-line counterparts as unintelligent drones, referring to them as "geraniums."

Now that he's intent on a switch, Turley is all about flower power.

"Because I played offensive line, I think that gives me an insider's advantage," he explained. "Believe me, I know what's happening on the other side of the football, and that should allow me to read and react in a way that the typical defensive lineman can't. I know what I would bring to that position, and a lot of coaches know, too."

What Turley would bring, first and foremost, is attitude -- which is why, despite his physical issues and purported baggage, I expect some NFL team to give him a chance. This is likely to happen next offseason, when he hopes to be fully healed, though he'd listen if a team expressed interest in signing him sooner.

In the meantime, he is spending most of his time in Arizona, where he works out five times a week, virtually all day, at the Athletes' Performance Institute, a high-tech conditioning center on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. In addition to his drumming exploits, Turley, who did several stints as a guest host for Fox's Best Damn Sports Show last fall, is expanding his entertainment horizons. He's about to head to Northern California to star in a horror flick, Seventy Five, that he hopes will be released in time for Halloween.

"It's a terror/thriller," he said, "and I'm the terror."

That, of course, was the way he was portrayed by his former coach, Mike Martz, late last year. Martz reportedly called NFL security on Turley after a contentious meeting in the Rams' coach's office, one in which Turley says Martz accused him of faking his back injury and "stealing money," alleging that the player had threatened him. Turley, who'd had offseason back surgery to repair a herniated disk, re-aggravated the injury early in '04 training camp and blamed Martz for not allowing him to ease his way back into playing shape.