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Fiercely competitive Bruce off to best start ever
By Jim Salter
One of the last of the original Rams is showing no signs of age.
Isaac Bruce began the season with four consecutive 100-yard games, becoming the first NFL player ever to do so at the start of the season. The streak ended in Sunday's improbable come-from-behind 33-27 overtime win in Seattle. Still, Bruce led the Rams with six catches for 78 yards, including a 27-yard catch-and-run that set up the game-tying field goal, rallying the Rams from a 17-point deficit in the final six minutes.
Not bad for a receiver who turns 32 next month and who broke in with the Rams -- the Los Angeles Rams -- in 1994, a year before they moved to the Midwest. Only Bruce and punter Sean Landeta remain from that team.
Bruce on Thursday waved off any questions about his strong start. But his teammates and coaches are impressed. Coach Mike Martz cited a strict offseason workout that keeps Bruce in prime condition.
"Just the way he works," receiver Shaun McDonald said. "He's out there working like he hasn't caught a pass in the NFL. I think that's what keeps him on top."
Bruce is the Rams' all-time leading receiver in all major categories -- receptions (726), receiving yards (10,987) and touchdowns (69). Already this season he has moved passed Terance Mathis, Gary Clark and Keenan McCardell into 17th place on the all-time receptions list. He's also moved past Stanley Morgan and Clark to 13th place on the career receiving yards list.
The four-time All Pro has 38 catches for 528 yards, both second in the league. His 13.8-yard average per catch is also among the league leaders.
Martz said Bruce's fierce competitiveness sets him apart.
"He's probably as good a competitor as I've ever been around and it's never wavered," Martz said. "He just has such great passion for playing this game and playing that position and winning."
Bruce has also been helped by the added attention the Rams' other Pro Bowl receiver -- Torry Holt -- gets, especially after Holt caught 117 passes for 1,696 yards in 2003. In fact, Holt caught more catches for more yards than Bruce each of the previous three seasons. This season, Holt has 30 catches for 363 yards.
Bruce began the season with nine catches for 112 yards in a 17-10 win over Arizona. He had eight catches for 102 yards in a 34-17 loss at Atlanta, and eight for 134 yards in a 28-25 overtime loss to New Orleans. He caught seven passes for 100 yards in a 24-14 win over San Francisco.
NOTES: Martz said guard Chris Dishman, special teams standout Trev Faulk and defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson are all questionable for Monday night's game against Tampa Bay. Dishman sprained his right knee Sept. 26 in a 28-25 overtime loss to New Orleans. Jackson and Faulk have hamstring injuries. ... 2003 first-round draft pick Jimmy Kennedy could return in a week or two, Martz said. Kennedy broke his right foot in training camp. The Rams may also get cornerback Travis Fisher back within the next two weeks. Fisher broke his right arm in a preseason game against Kansas City.
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