By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Wednesday, Jan. 05 2005

When Rams strong safety Adam Archuleta awoke one morning at training camp with
"a little back twinge," he thought little of it.

"I tend to overlook little injuries," Archuleta said. "They've always just kind
of gone away and taken care of themselves. But this time, it just kept getting
worse."

An MRI after the regular-season opener against Arizona disclosed a bulging
disc. Archuleta missed two starts in early October and only recently, after
treatment by a back specialist, has he experienced a measure of relief.

"I've had to pretty much grind it out throughout the year," said Archuleta, a
6-foot, 223-pound fourth-year pro from Arizona State. "It's been manageable,
and I've been able to play and get through it. It's starting to feel better."

Archuleta, whose game features high-speed collisions, acknowledged that the
injury has restricted him. "I think it's evident that I haven't been as
physical," said Archuleta, 27. "Due to not being able to work out throughout
the season and my body just kind of going a little bit downhill and not having
that explosion and that pop, I've got to say that it's been a factor."

Coach Mike Martz suspected early that Archuleta had a problem. "When you see
Adam kind of shy away a little bit, there's something wrong," Martz said.
"Physically, he was all locked up back there."

Still, Archuleta ranks second on the team in tackles, with 123 (linebacker Pisa
Tinoisamoa has 145) heading into Saturday's first-round playoff game at
Seattle. That's Archuleta's second-highest total, only 26 off his career high.

He said he felt he could've had a much better season, though, had he sought a
medical remedy sooner. "It's kind of my fault for not really taking care of it
when it first started acting up. I really didn't say much about it, and I kind
of let it get out of control," Archuleta said. "It was like, 'Oh, I've got a
little back twinge. It'll be all right. It's me, I'm indestructible. ...'

"It's frustrating, just because I have an obligation to my teammates. When I
don't bring that intimidating, physical presence to the defense, I feel like I
let everybody down. It's hard to look at the guys in the eye."

With a firm jaw, he promised that he'd be hale and hearty come the start of the
2005 season. Surgery won't be necessary, but he said he vowed to get plenty of
rest and rehabilitation during the offseason.

"Trust me, this won't happen again," Archuleta said. "I've learned a lot about
how to take care of my body through this experience. I just can't ignore things
and just put them off and have the mentality that they'll take care of
themselves, like I have in the past."