Wednesday, December 21, 2005

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

After a season of musical quarterbacks that has seen the Rams start three quarterbacks, they have yet to make a decision on who will be the starter this weekend against San Francisco.

All signs Wednesday seemed to point to veteran Jamie Martin getting the nod, but that is no sure thing according to interim coach Joe Vitt.

“We have another day of practice,” Vitt said. “We’re going to look at Fitz tomorrow now. We looked at Jamie today and took him off the shelf, he’s a little sore. We will make a decision later on in the week.”

Martin took the majority of the repetitions during Wednesday’s practice, working with the top unit and allowing rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick to rest.

Fitzpatrick started the past two games after replacing Martin with a 310-yard performance in Martin’s stead against Houston. But he struggled mightily against Minnesota, tossing five interceptions and then again against Philadelphia last week.

Martin’s work in practice seemed to point to his getting the start against the *****, but he said he hasn’t been told anything yet though he is preparing himself as though he will start.

“No, we haven’t really talked a whole lot about it,” Martin said. “We’ll see what happens as the week goes along I guess. I’ll try to and get ready as if I am and see what happens during the week.”

Martin started in wins against Jacksonville and New Orleans and then again against Houston, but suffered a concussion in that game setting the stage for Fitzpatrick’s debut.

Martin is 72-of-104 with 765 yards and four touchdowns on the season. While his future for this week is unknown, it is also unknown what he will do next year. To that end, Martin plans to make the most of any opportunity he is given between now and the end of the season.

“You are always auditioning when you play,” Martin said. “Anytime you go on the field, it’s part of your resume. If I get a chance to play I just have to do my best and go out and compete. Also for the team, but also when you get out there you are performing for yourself and your future and your career.”

Vitt said Fitzpatrick was sore Wednesday and he is expected to take reps with the “ones” Thursday.

ROSTER MOVES: The Rams officially placed quarterback Marc Bulger and linebacker Chris Claiborne on injured reserve Wednesday, ending their seasons with a pair of games left to play.

The move with Bulger comes as no surprise. He said all along he would only return if his shoulder was at full strength and the team was in position for a run. With neither of those being an option, the move makes sense.

Claiborne, on the other hand, has not even been on the injury report in recent weeks so the move comes as a little bit of a surprise. Trev Faulk replaced him as the starter in the middle a few weeks ago and Claiborne didn’t play against Philadelphia. He has a knee injury that will keep him out for the year.

The Rams added a couple of new faces Wednesday in the form of linebacker Mike Goolsby and tight end Aaron Walker. Goolsby is a rookie out of Notre Dame and Walker played collegiately at Florida. Walker spent the past three seasons with San Francisco.

THE FAULK FILES: Faulk has done an admirable job in Claiborne’s place, particularly making his presence felt in run defense. He posted a career-high 12 tackles against the Eagles and says he is getting more comfortable by the day.

“I guess it’s like anything else, the more you do something, the more comfortable that you feel and the more live action you see on the field helps you be able to play faster and be more aggressive and things like that,” Faulk said. “I definitely have been getting more and more comfortable.”

Faulk has made three starts on the season and continues to contribute on special teams. He has 29 tackles on the year and said he is looking at this chance like a possible audition for a starting job in the future.

“In a sense (I do),” Faulk said. “I said earlier in the year that I feel like I can be a starter in this league and it’s unfortunate some of the things that have happened, but I have an opportunity so I am just trying to make the most of the opportunity I have right now.”

INJURY REPORT: The injury report was filled with big names while the sidelines at practice were filled with players during Wednesday’s workout.

Receiver Isaac Bruce (toe), safety Jerome Carter (flu), running back Steven Jackson (hip/foot), defensive end Leonard Little (ankle), linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (back) and tackle Rex Tucker (virus) are questionable.

Vitt said he expected Tinoisamoa to return at full strength tomorrow after he sat out Wednesday’s practice. Jackson also sat out the workout while the rest of the group participated.