Man, I'll be at UConn vs. WVU. Maybe I'll see Marc there. :)
Bulger, Holt Hope to be Ready for Seattle
Monday, October 31, 2005
By Nick Wagoner
While the stars have been away, the Rams have rediscovered something that had eluded them for three weeks: winning.
With a bye week to rest and heal, Pro Bowlers Torry Holt and Marc Bulger will get plenty of opportunity to get better in time for the Nov. 13 tilt against the Seahawks in Seattle.
But, is their return necessarily a good thing?
“I don’t want to come back because I don’t want to screw up the chemistry,” Holt joked. “I told them you guys are doing so well, I don’t want to screw anything up. A couple of fans made some comments… I said (the team) has done a fantastic job. It’s very exciting and very pleasing to see how well they responded and how well they are playing as a group.”
Of course, the Rams will take Holt and Bulger back with open arms. After all, Holt led the NFL in receiving yards when he injured suffered a grade 2 PCL sprain against the Seahawks on Oct. 9 and Bulger led the league in passing yards when he suffered a sprained shoulder against the Colts on Oct. 17.
Both players expressed great joy about how the Rams responded in their absence as well as the absence of receiver Isaac Bruce and defensive end Leonard Little. Armed with a week to rest and another week of preparation, practice and treatment, though, it appears the Rams will get Bulger and Holt back in time for the all-important divisional game against rival Seattle.
Bulger, in particular, was adamant about his return to the Rams next week.
“It will just be a pain issue and I can’t hurt it worse now,” Bulger said. “I think after this week it will be strong enough. As long as I can deal with the pain, I think I will be all right. We’ll take it easy this week and Monday we’ll have a day and Tuesday off again and then full bore back on Wednesday.
“I know for sure I’ll be back.”
Bulger did some throwing last week, but admittedly regressed some as he tried to push forward. He estimated that he was at about 50 percent throwing last week and still didn’t retain full range of motion.
Bulger will spend part of this week in St. Louis working out and doing some light throwing. He and Holt have made plans to workout together Tuesday morning, which will probably be the extent of Bulger’s throwing before he takes off to watch his West Virginia Mountaineers take on Connecticut in football on Wednesday night.
While it was hard for Bulger to watch the Rams play without him, his pain was eased by the fact that St. Louis was able to grab a pair of wins.
“It made sense,” Bulger said. “Especially now that we won, I am glad we took it off so I can get back close to 100 percent next week.”
As for Holt, things look promising, but he stopped short of proclaiming himself in for Seattle as Bulger did.
Holt actually played against Indianapolis a week after suffering the injury against Seattle, but that didn’t help him get better and he has struggled to gain his footing and has had the knee give out on him when he tried to run.
The sprain kept Holt out against New Orleans and Jacksonville and relegated him to cheering his teammates on and dishing out advice on the sidelines.
“When I came back from the Indianapolis game I was running and it would give and it would give again and I just didn’t feel comfortable with it,” Holt said. “I wouldn’t have been of any service to this football team or myself. I didn’t think I could help. I could be there and be a presence, but I wanted to be there and help and be involved. I didn’t feel I would be that good at doing that.”
While many of Holt’s teammates will spend the majority of the bye week on vacations and relaxing, Holt will spend his time attempting to get healthy. He went through a number of workouts Monday afternoon and reported positive signs from his exercises.
“Today I was able to run and do some cutting and did some things that were exaggerated on some drills with the knee to see what type of burst and acceleration and what type of strength and see how stable it was,” Holt said. “Those things I did do felt good. Then I did a full workout as well. I think today was probably a very good day as far as mentally trusting the knee and trusting that the rehab has been working. Overall, it was a good day. I made more progress.”
Holt stops himself just short of saying that he will definitely be back in time for the rematch with the Seahawks, but that is the goal.
“I am shooting for the Seattle game,” Holt said. “I think this bye week is going to be very beneficial.”
BRUCE BACK: Bruce’s status was far less certain than that of Bulger or Holt, though. Bruce has been out with a toe injury since the Tennessee game on Sept. 25.
Bruce did his best to get back to work last week in time for the Jacksonville game, but when he went on to the practice field Wednesday, the toe didn’t respond the way he wanted.
The original timetable for Bruce’s return had him targeted for the week after the bye, which would coincide with the possible return of Holt and Bulger. But coach Joe Vitt said he wasn’t sure what Bruce’s status would be for the Seattle rematch.
“I’m not a doctor, I can’t tell you that,” Vitt said. “Isaac, when he can play, he will play. This is doing nothing but making him stronger, this time he’s going through right now, and when he’s ready to go, he’ll go.”
LITTLE’S RETURN: As for Little, he was expected to return to St. Louis on Monday afternoon or evening. The plan for how things will go has not yet been revealed to Little, but Vitt said he expects Little to play against Seattle.
“I’d like to meet with him first and let him know what [the plan] is before I talk about it,” Vitt said.
ON THE CORNER: Other than receiver, no position has seen more injuries this year than cornerback. The Rams lost starter Jerametrius Butler during training camp and have battled with nagging injuries to DeJuan Groce, Travis Fisher, Terry Fair and Chris Johnson.
Fisher and Johnson missed Sunday’s game against Jacksonville after a week of being listed as no worse than questionable on the injury report all week.
Fisher has battled a groin injury for the better part of the past three weeks and didn’t participate in much practice last week. He was listed as probable until Saturday when he was downgraded to questionable. He was scratched Sunday morning and knew earlier that he probably wouldn’t be ready to go.
But Fisher is already running and doing many of the things he needs to do to play and said he expects to be ready in time for the game against Seattle.
“It’s a lot better,” Fisher said. “I did some running today, did a lot of treatment and stretching and it’s responding good.”
Johnson injured his back returning a kickoff against New Orleans and did not return to the game. Johnson took a hit to the head on a return and said the pain immediately went down to his back.
Johnson also didn’t practice last week and was listed as questionable for most of the week. Like Fisher, though, Johnson said he should be good to go for the game against the Seahawks.
“It’s coming along fine,” Johnson said. “It was a little stiff yesterday so that’s why I decided to wait to give me an extra week to go by with the bye. For Seattle, I think I will be ready to go.”
Terry Fair returned kickoffs in his place Sunday.
GROWING PAINS: It has been easy to forget that Alex Barron is just a rookie at right tackle considering how he has performed this season, but the reminder of that came in the form of five penalties against the Jaguars on Sunday.
At one point, Barron committed three consecutive penalties, a false start, an illegal touching and another false start.
But it’s important to remember that Barron is just a rookie and sometimes that goes with the territory.
“We have great veteran leadership on this team,” Vitt said. “There is nothing that I can say to Alex that Orlando [Pace] hasn’t already said to him, Marshall [Faulk] hasn’t said to him, the offensive line coaches haven’t said to him. Adam [Timmerman] is in his ear. They’re just trying to build the kid up. This kid is going to make some mistakes along the way, he’s young. But, he’s athletic, he works hard, he wants to be a great player and you have to work through those things. That’s not the time to holler and scream, and now you’re a master of the obvious. Now’s the time to pick the kid back up again, and let’s get him going in the right direction.”
Barron recovered just fine and didn’t commit another penalty the rest of the way, helping running back Steven Jackson to a 179-yard rushing day.
MOVIE MADNESS: While Vitt has taken to showing his players movies and clips in the past few weeks to get them charged up for games, the actual selection of the movie hasn’t come from Vitt.
“Again, I’m just going to tell you the truth,” Vitt said. “The last movie I saw was Godfather III, and that’s the truth. I’m not a movie guy. [Coach] Wilbert Montgomery brought that to me last Wednesday. He had kind of cut the thing up and put it together. We’re always looking for things to kind of motivate our guys on Saturday. The week before was the Jimmy Valvano tape. Our guys really liked it. Our guys liked it this Saturday. The Saturday before you go out, it’s a shorter practice on Saturday, now you’re looking to do things to get their minds right for the game that next day.”
The coaching staff showed the players the video clip of former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano’s “Never Give Up” speech from the ESPYs before the New Orleans game and followed that with clips Gladiator clips on Saturday.
MARTIN’S WINS: Say what you will about Martin’s numbers in his fill in role for Bulger, by the time his two starts were finished, the only numbers that he posted that really mattered were the pair of checks he put in the win column.
“At the end of the day, Jamie got both of those wins. For the most part, he protected the ball. He did a good job of running the offense in and out of the huddle. He made big plays when he had to make big plays. I thought the screen to Steven [Jackson] was well executed. I thought he threw a great ball to Kevin [Curtis]. So, he did exactly what he had to do to win. We’re proud of him.”