Bulger works out injured shoulder
By Jeff Gordon
Online Sports Columnist
12/13/2004

Rams coach Mike Martz suggested that maybe, just maybe, quarterback Marc Bulger could make his return this week.

Bulger tested his injured right shoulder by throwing the football Monday at Rams Park.

“Just very moderate throwing, 20, 25 yards, very light,” Martz told reporters at his news conference. “He’s a little sore. Who knows, we may have him. But I’m not going to count on it. They gave him some treatment here this afternoon and we’ll see.

“He has to feel good about the shoulder holding together and playing. The structure has never been the issue. It’s just the pain that he has in the shoulder and the strength of making the throws that he wants to make, that he knows he has to make.”

To dislodge Chris Chandler as the starter at Arizona, Bulger would have to make impressive strides this week. Ditto for running back Marshall Faulk – although rookie Steven Jackson could be ready to replace fill-in Arlen Harris if his sore knee improves.

“All those guys will tell you they’re ready when they are not, because they are so competitive and you have to give that to him,” Martz said. “You have to be careful. You always try to error on the side of caution with all these, guys like Marshall, Marc.

“You never question their intensity, their integrity. They are always going to try to do it. It’s just like Pisa (Tinoisamoa). His shoulder came out three times; he’ll need surgery in the off-season.”

On other topics, Martz still believes Shaun McDonald was interfered with on his muffed punt – but Mad Mike was more upset with the shoddy blocking on the punt return units. On the plus side, he liked what he saw from newcomer Aveion Cason returning kickoffs.

Martz ordered that sudden string of carries for Harris because he didn’t like what he saw from the passing game. “I really felt like Arlen Harris played exceptionally well,” he said.

Here are some other highlights from the news conference:

On the failure of quarterback Chris Chandler and the offense: “Obviously we’re all disappointed in the way we played that football game, particularly on offense. Up front we had some issues. We did not play very well. We did not protect the quarterback, he got a little rattled. We just could not get things going offensively.”

On giving Chandler too much to do it in the game plan: “Offensively, there are some things we need to clean up. Chris just got off the mark here a little bit. He got pressured early and couldn’t settle down. I can do a much better job of helping with what we call, too. There is kind of flow of things that you get into. You’ve got to be able to run the ball and mix it in there and do some of those things too.

“It’s kind of the nature of the way that game went early. We felt like we had to play a fast-paced game and as it turned out, that was not the case. If I had to choose to do it again, I wouldn’t have done it. I would have mixed it up a little better. But I was afraid of it getting away from us.”

On whether he needs to simplify the offense for Chandler: “No, not really. In our passing game, you can have seven or eight passes that are pretty much the same read for him. It is just the mechanics of what we do with the quarterback here, in terms of what you are looking at, how you make decisions, and how quick those decisions are, that sort of thing.

“He’s a guy that has been a lot of systems now and had a lot of different coaching and when you get under pressure like that, you revert back to another system or how you were doing things in the past. I think that’s where he is.”

On Chandler’s current confidence level: “He was just devastated. I went through the stuff with him this morning. The things he had a hard time with are easy to fix, really. We just have to do a better job protecting him. I really believe he’s going to be fine.”

On the play of right tackle Blaine Saipaia: “I think Blaine played as well, if not the best, of all our offensive linemen. He basically blocked (Julius) Peppers, I mean, he did it. The touchdown throw, he had him by himself. We’re doubling the tackle with our right guard and our center and he’s got him all by himself and it’s a long-count pass and he blocks him.

“He’s good enough, he’s going to be fine. He’s going to be a real good player. He just needs to play. I love his toughness and competitiveness.”

On the play of the rest of the offensive line: “I would say we have some very serious problems. I don’t know what to tell you.”

On guard Adam Timmerman playing with bad shoulders: “I would like to get him out of there, I just can’t.”

On the play of the defense: “To have that many turnovers and to hold them to 20 points was kind of miraculous job by the defense. We struggled early on defense, we gave up three real big plays in a row in that first series. And after that first quarter, I felt we played defensively very, very well.

“Defensively, that’s as hard as we’ve played this year. We still made mistakes and gave up some plays.”

On the play of the secondary: “I’m very pleased with Jerametrius Butler. I think (Antuan) Edwards has come along just fine, did a good job. I hope he’s our free safety for a while to come.”

On defensive end Bryce Fisher earning a couple of sacks: “I thought Bryce probably played his best football game since he’s been here.”