By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Monday, Jan. 10 2005

When Rams guard Tom Nutten was helped off Qwest Field in the fourth quarter
Saturday, grimacing while heavily favoring his damaged left knee, it looked as
if his season might finally have come to an end.

But as coach Mike Martz noted Monday, Nutten didn't earn his moniker for
nothing. "Since 1999, his nickname has been 'Lazarus' - he's always raised up,"
Martz said.

Apparently, he's about to do so again.

Martz said Nutten should be able to return to the lineup Saturday when the
wild-card Rams take on the NFC South-champion Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia
Dome in the conference semifinals.

"It's the same thing that happened the week before" to Nutten, Martz explained.
"He didn't reinjure it, he just aggravated it. There was no damage to it."

Nutten, 33, has withstood a succession of lower-extremity injuries in his five
seasons with the Rams but has missed only a handful of games. This season,
after he was talked out of a one-year retirement by Martz, he suffered a
dislocated big toe in the preseason, then later hurt the knee.

He has a torn medial collateral ligament that won't require surgery but won't
heal fully until he's able to rest his leg and then rehab it in the offseason.

Nutten reinjured the knee late in the third quarter against the New York Jets
in the final regular-season game, and he was badly hobbled afterward. But after
progressing dramatically late in the week, he made the start against the
Seahawks.

"He's much further along than he was at this time last week," Martz said, "so
I'm sure we'll have him (vs. the Falcons). "

In good health

The Rams' health overall after 17 games is surprisingly good, Martz reported.
Defensive end Tyoka Jackson, who suffered a sprained ankle vs. the Jets and sat
out in Seattle, is the only real question mark for Saturday's contest.

"I think we should have everybody else," Martz said. "We're in much better
shape than I would've anticipated. We had some bumps and bruises, but after
talking to the doctors and Jim (Anderson), our trainer, I think we're going to
be just fine physically for this game."

Jackson said watching from the sideline "was killing me, especially the last
drive when you knew (the Seahawks) were going to pass the ball." He hasn't
given up on playing against the Falcons, either. "It's a low-ankle sprain; it's
really not that bad," he said.

Jackson said it was "a good, legal block" by Jets center Kevin Mawae that sent
him to the turf. Jackson said that as he lay on the field, Mawae taunted him.

"It hurt my ankle, and I'm grabbing it," Jackson recalled. "And he starts in
with, 'Get your (butt) off the field.' Boy, I got (upset) about that. When you
injure a guy, you kind of just be quiet. Because you never know when yours is
coming."
Mikes stick together

Martz, who knows a little something about being a lightning rod for criticism,
said the barbs that have been directed at Seattle coach Mike Holmgren this year
are unwarranted.

"That guy's got a street named after him" in Green Bay," Martz said. "He's won
a Super Bowl (with the Packers in 1996). He's as good as it gets. So for
anybody to criticize him or this (Seahawks) organization - they did win this
division, you know. And they won it fair and square. You've got to give them
their due."

Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this
report.