By Bill Coats
Tuesday, Mar. 21 2006

After suffering four injuries to his throwing shoulder over the past two
seasons, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger was pleased to hear new coach Scott
Linehan say keeping him upright was high on his list of priorities.

"I know one of his main objectives is to protect me. And do it without losing
the aggressiveness" on offense, Bulger said Monday, the first day of offseason
conditioning at Rams Park. "We're not going to run the ball on first and second
down and throw it on third just to protect me. At the same time, I think
(Linehan is) going to be more selective in when we should take shots down the

"And there might be some more quick passing game than we've done in the past.
We'll see; you can't sit there and hold back the offense because you want to
protect a guy too much."

Shoulder problems kept Bulger out for a total of 10 games over the past two
years. He played just 29 quarters in eight games last season, which ended for
him Nov. 20 after a sack by Arizona safety Adrian Wilson. No structural damage
was found, but fluid buildup in the shoulder joint caused pain and stiffness.

Still, Bulger, 28, is ahead of his pace from last year, when he was unable to
throw until April. "I threw on vacation a couple of weeks ago, and there's no
pain; it feels good," he reported. "You never say never, but hopefully it's
done and I won't have that frustrating problem again this year."

Ready to crack heads

More than two years have passed since center-guard Richie Incognito has
strapped on pads and plowed into a defensive lineman. So, he's looking toward
the first of three minicamps, April 21-23, with enhanced anticipation.

"Man, it's all I've been thinking about," he said. "I'm ready to crack some

Incognito, 22, played two seasons at Nebraska - earning All-Big 12 Conference
honors as a sophomore - before being bounced from the program for off-the-field
problems. Although he sat out the 2004 season, the Rams drafted him in the
third round last April.

His entire rookie season was spent recovering from a knee injury. The
rehabilitation continued in the offseason, and Incognito said he's "getting
real close to 100 percent. ... The knee's feeling strong, the leg's feeling
strong. Everything's feeling good."

The 6-foot-3 Incognito dropped about 30 pounds, down to 295, to try to take "a
little stress off the knee, and see how it works. And it's been great. ... I
think strength-wise, conditioning-wise, 295, 300, 305 is perfect for me."

T. Faulk is disappointed

Despite collecting 37 tackles as the Rams' first-team middle linebacker over
the last six games in 2005, Trev Faulk again will be trying to fight his way up
the depth chart.

Last year, the Rams brought in Chris Claiborne, a free agent who lost his job
to Faulk and subsequently was released. Then a week ago, free agent Will
Witherspoon - Carolina's leading tackler the past two seasons - signed a
six-year, $33 million contract with the Rams.

Faulk greeted the news with a shrug. "There's nothing that I can do about it.
They don't consult me before they make decisions on moves," he said. "It's
business, and that's how it goes. ... But personally, it was a little