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Despite injury concerns, Rams back in driver's seat in NFC West
By Chris Ruddick, NFL Analyst
(Sports Network) - Thanks to a monumental collapse by the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, the St. Louis Rams are back atop the standings of the NFC West. The Rams, at 6-6, are actually tied with the Seahawks, but they hold the tiebreaker over them by virtue of their two regular season wins against them.
However, St. Louis did get some bad news on Monday when it was learned that starting quarterback Marc Bulger, who left this past Sunday's win over San Francisco with a sprained right shoulder, will miss this week's contest against the Carolina Panthers.
Bulger has a bone bruise on his throwing shoulder at the top of his collarbone. The good news, though, is that it is not a shoulder separation.
"The AC (joint) separations that are so typical for quarterbacks was not there," Martz said. "There is a little bit of swelling in the joint, but there's no damage evidently to the ligaments that hold the joint together."
So it will be 16-year veteran Chris Chandler, who will be making his 151st career start, under center this week for the Rams.
"I am excited about the potential of what he (Chandler) can do for us this week," Rams head coach Mike Martz said. "He'll be our starter at quarterback this week."
Chandler, who played for the Rams while they were located in Los Angeles, filled in admirably for Bulger on Sunday and completed 18-of-27 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown in his team's 16-6 win.
"You only get one chance to play this game," said Chandler, who has also spent time with Indianapolis, Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago. "When it's over, it's over. I'm getting close to that time so every time I'm out there I try to really have fun and keep the guys having fun."
Also running back Steven Jackson could miss the game this week with a bruised right knee.
"I don't know if he'll be available this week or not," Martz said. "I suppose he will be, but who knows?"
Jackson was injured on the last of his 26 carries on Sunday. He was replaced for the final two offensive plays by Arlen Harris, who would get the start this Sunday if Jackson or Marshall Faulk are both unavailable.
Faulk is expected to sit out practice for most of the week and Martz said his status for this week's tilt will be updated later in the week.
"It's all based on Marshall, on his health and how he feels and how he's going," said Martz. "When he's healthy, he's feeling good, there's no reason to diminish what he does."
The Rams got back to .500 on Sunday, as Jackson rushed for 119 yards and Jeff Wilkins booted three field goals to lead the way.
"I knew early on that I was getting the start and that I was going to be playing a lot," Jackson said. "I challenged myself to go over 100 yards, and coach (Mike) Martz did a good job of sticking with the run."
Sunday's victory was the 500th in franchise history for the Rams. They are now the fifth team in league history to reach that milestone, joining Chicago, Green Bay, Washington and the New York Giants.
Eighty-nine of those wins have come in St. Louis since the team moved in 1995.
INJURIES: Martz will update his injury report on Wednesday.
UP NEXT: The Rams will head to Charlotte this week to face the Carolina Panthers.
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