Thursday, November 10, 2005

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

After a pair of weeks where the Rams’ injury report read like a Who’s Who in St. Louis football, that list has trimmed considerably, especially for some of the big name offensive stars.

At the top of the list of names missing from the injury report is quarterback Marc Bulger. Bulger returned from a shoulder injury in Monday’s practice and is certain he will be able to play against the Seahawks on Sunday.

“I'm 100 percent. That's the easy way to say it," Bulger said. "The rest of the year I'll be 100 percent as long as I'm playing."

The status of receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce is less certain than Bulger, but from the looks of things, both will be ready to suit up for the important divisional game against Seattle.
Holt, in particular, seems headed for a return after suffering a knee injury in the first meeting against the Seahawks on Oct. 9.

“I’m going to continue to monitor day to day,” Holt said Thursday. “My plan is to play Sunday. I will try to go out there and practice the way I will play in a game and keep my fingers crossed and continue to get my rehab, my treatment and continue to rehab. Hopefully things will be safe for me to say I can go on Sunday.”

Of the three, it seems Bruce’s status is the most undecided. He is listed as questionable because of a toe injury he suffered Sept. 25 against the Titans. Bruce has done his best to get back on the field, but hasn’t been able to return just yet.

“He has been around long enough that the players trust him and the coaches trust him that when he is ready and feels he can go, that’s what it is,” Bulger said of Bruce. “We don’t rush guys that have been around this long. Who knows when he’ll be ready? He wouldn’t come back if he was going to hurt the team.”

Bulger’s return certainly won’t hurt the Rams. When Bulger suffered the shoulder injury against Indianapolis on Oct. 17, he was the league’s leader in passing yards, completions and attempts.

Bulger resumed throwing in the week leading up to the Jacksonville game, but that was mostly light work and he wasn’t too close to returning in time for that game. Last week’s bye gave Bulger enough time to continue working on throwing and getting the shoulder back to where he wants it. He even took time to throw with Holt on the side, but mostly rested during the week.

When the Rams returned to practice Monday, Bulger returned with them. He took most of a normal workload, skipping out only in the footwork drills the quarterbacks do during the special teams period.

That down time saved Bulger about 20 or 30 unnecessary throws. He continued that practice Thursday and will probably continue it for the foreseeable future.

For the drills Bulger has been involved with, he has thrown the ball extremely well.

“I think Marc really threw the long ball well today,” coach Joe Vitt said. “He has good zip on the ball, his pocket presence is there, he is anticipating his throws, he is reading his coverages. I thought he looked sharp.”

Bulger suffered a similar injury on Dec. 5, 2004 against San Francisco. That injury kept him out for two games, both horrible losses against Carolina and Arizona in which replacement Chris Chandler struggled mightily.

This year, though, the Rams responded in Bulger’s absence, winning a pair of games with Jamie Martin handling quarterback duties. Bulger despises not being on the field and is happy to be returning to the site where he led one of the greatest comebacks in team history little more than a year ago.

“It’s exciting,” Bulger said. “You sit here for two wins and you don’t feel like you are a part of it. You are happy for the team and they got us in good position, but I feel like I haven’t done anything to get us here so I want to contribute.”

Of course, Holt also would like to contribute. Like Bulger, Holt led the league in a few major categories when he was forced to sit out because of what he is calling a strained PCL in his right knee.

Holt played on the knee against the Colts the week after injuring it, but regressed after that game and was forced to sit out the wins against the Jaguars and Saints.

Since the injury, though, Holt has been putting in plenty of hours in an effort to get back on the field. He has done plenty of running, worked with the trainers and continued lifting weights.

Holt spent most of his bye week in St. Louis working out and trying to get back. Holt says the knee is starting to accumulate scar tissue which is helping the knee more stable when he runs. That sounds strange of a strained PCL and Holt acknowledges that the injury could be something that isn’t fully healed until after the season.

“It’s a possibility that that could be the case,” Holt said. “Talking to the doctor yesterday he said it’s scarring up a bit. I am counting on that and at the same time I am going to continue to rehab and train and do the things I do throughout the course of the season if I was healthy. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and have no bad luck and no tweaks or setbacks and I can continue to move forward.”

Holt also returned to practice in full gear Monday. He spent most of Monday and Wednesday’s practice going through a normal workout, even taking some extra repetitions with the second team.

For the time being, Holt is wearing a brace on the knee and will probably continue to wear it for stability. Holt doesn’t like the brace, but acknowledges it helps.

“It restricts me a little bit,” Holt said. “I can’t pick ‘em up and put ‘em down as quickly as I would like to, but it allows me to have some stability which is the most important thing. It allows me to be able to get in and out of my breaks and most importantly allows me upstairs mentally to be at ease.”

Holt took a full workload again Thursday and has looked good in the process. He is listed as probable on this week’s injury report, meaning there is a good chance he will be ready to play. It would take a serious setback in the next two days to keep Holt out against the Seahawks.

“I have to finish up today good and finish up on Friday good and then Saturday morning if there is no swelling again or no discomfort or nothing like that, I will come in and sit down with Vitt and we’ll make a decision on it,” Holt said. “I’m sure he will ask me if I am ready to go, he’ll ask the trainers the same thing and hopefully it will be a yes all the way across the board and I will be able to line up and try to go out and help this team win this game.”

Bruce hasn’t exactly been lounging on the sidelines this week, either. It’s clear that Bruce is taking steps in the right direction toward playing for the first time since that game against Tennessee.

His status is less certain, though. Bruce is listed as questionable, meaning there is a 50/50 chance he will play against the Seahawks.

Like Holt, Bruce’s status will be evaluated through Saturday’s walk through. But also like Holt, Bruce has practiced well and done more in practice than at any point in recent weeks.

“I think they look better every day so far,” Vitt said. “I thought Isaac looked better today than he did yesterday and I thought Torry looked better today than he did yesterday. They continue to progress which is encouraging.”