By Jim Thomas
Friday, Sep. 14 2007

Drew Bennett's parents flew in all the way from northern California last
weekend to see their son.

Well, they saw Bennett's house. They saw the sights in St. Louis. And they saw
the Rams play Carolina at the Edward Jones Dome. But they didn't get to see
their son make his St. Louis debut.

Bennett was the Rams' most expensive offseason acquisition, signing a $30
million free-agent contract after spending his first six NFL seasons with
Tennessee. Bennett was to bring a new dimension to the wide receiver corps with
his 6-foot-5 frame, catching passes over the middle, in the red zone and down
the sidelines on fade patterns.

That might all still happen, but it didn't against Carolina. Bennett was a
pregame scratch because of a strained quadriceps in his left thigh.

"Here I am, it's my first season here, and I really wanted to get out there,"
Bennett said.

But all he could do was watch in street clothes as the Rams offense started
strong, then sputtered badly in a 27-13 loss to Carolina.

"It was awful," Bennett said. "It's been a long time since I stood on the
sideline and watched a game. It's hopefully the last time for a while."

As the preseason wound down last month, Bennett began experiencing some
tightness in the quad, but he kept playing and practicing. Then, during a
Saturday practice on Labor Day weekend, Bennett aggravated the quad.

"It pulled on me a little bit when I was running a 'go' route," Bennett said.
"I didn't think it was that bad. I finished practice. But after practice, when
I was on the way home, it kind of swelled up a little bit. By that afternoon it
was really, really stiff, and really sore. I was working to get the blood out
of it the rest of the week."

By the end of last week, the pain and soreness were gone, but the muscle still
felt tight. Bennett tested the quad in pregame against Carolina, and it felt
just so-so. As a result, coach Scott Linehan decided to place him on the
game-day inactive list.

"We felt like if we played him, he would've taken a couple steps back," Linehan
said. "He could have played in some situations, possibly. But if we were to
play him, we felt like he wouldn't be as effective as he needed to be."

Dante Hall got most of the work as the slot receiver against the Panthers, with
Dane Looker sprinkled in for a few plays as well. At the start of this week,
Bennett vowed he would practice and play against San Francisco.

The week started off well enough, with Bennett taking part in a full workout
Wednesday. But the quad tightened up Thursday, and Bennett shut it down midway
through practice.

"I'm not worried about it," Bennett insisted after Thursday's practice. "It was
a little tighter, which I expected from doing a full practice (Wednesday). I
expect to be out there and do a full practice Friday."

Does Bennett expect to be out there Sunday against the *****?

"Absolutely," Bennett said. "It's extremely important. Especially missing the
first game, I want to get out there for myself and for my teammates."

Bennett said keeping the quad muscle loose and warm is a priority Sunday,
whether it's riding a stationary bike, running along the sideline at the Edward
Jones Dome or frequent stretching.

"In the games sometimes, especially as the third wideout, you'll go for six or
seven plays, and then there'll be two series where you don't go in there,"
Bennett said.

And as Bennett jokingly pointed out, there are a variety of lubricants designed
to keep the muscle warm.

"They have all sorts of goos and gels and stuff like that ó things that just
pull the hair off your legs," he said.

Bennett's parents won't be in town this weekend for the ***** game. However, he
does have several friends coming in to see him. Count Linehan among those
hoping Bennett's buddies will see more than Bennett's house and the Gateway

"We look at Drew as a starter even though he's not listed as a starter at
receiver," Linehan said. "Arguably, if you were to put our best 11 football
players out there (on offense), you'd send three receivers out there in the
game. Hopefully he'll be back, close to full speed this game, and be able to
make a difference."