By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
12/16/2004


It appears that the Rams will be at full strength at running back Sunday when they play the Arizona Cardinals at Sun Devil Stadium.

"Steven (Jackson) is still just a little tentative, but there's no reason why he shouldn't be ready to go," coach Mike Martz said Thursday. "Both he and Marshall (Faulk) will be" on the 45-man active roster for the 3:05 p.m. kickoff.

Faulk has missed two games with a bruised left knee, and Jackson sat out Sunday at Carolina with the same injury, but to his right knee. Jackson, the team's first-round draft choice this year, had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee after his senior season at Oregon State.

Faulk and Jackson shared first-team duties at practice Wednesday and Thursday. Arlen Harris, who rushed for 61 yards on 19 carries in the 20-7 loss to the Panthers, was back with the No. 3 unit and likely to return to kickoff-return duties.

Jackson was injured on his final series Dec. 5 against San Francisco, when he ran for 119 yards on 26 carries. He said watching from the sideline Sunday was difficult.

"As a competitor, you want to be out there," he said. "And coming off a big game especially, I really felt I could help my team against Carolina. It was pretty tough, especially seeing the offense, the way it was kind of going a little sour."

Fluid was drained from Jackson's knee twice last week, but he said it felt "pretty good" Thursday in the wake of Wednesday's workout at Rams Park.

"It didn't swell up this morning, but I have a couple of more practices this week to see how it reacts," Jackson said. "I've got to prepare myself. You can't just go out there cold and expect to play on Sunday. You've got to get back into the flow of things at practice."

Faulk, who has had recurring knee problems in the past few seasons, had improved so much that he was removed from the team's injury report Thursday. He was listed as probable Wednesday.

Bulger throws again, still has soreness

Quarterback Marc Bulger was a little sore after testing his bruised right (throwing) shoulder with some light tossing Wednesday, Martz said. Bulger threw again briefly Thursday during individual drills, while Chris Chandler worked with the first unit.

"We haven't really pressed it," Martz said. "You don't want to put him backwards. It's a pain issue; it's not the joint structure or anything like that. It's just how sore it is. He's fighting through it."

Bulger was injured in the first quarter against the *****. Chandler, 39, replaced him, and the Rams rolled up a 16-6 victory. But as the starter Sunday, Chandler threw six interceptions against the Panthers.

Martz hasn't ruled out Bulger for the Arizona game. "We'll just see," Martz said. Bulger was unavailable to reporters Thursday.


Aeneas Williams moves to scout team

Safety Aeneas Williams joined the scout team Thursday, although Martz reiterated that the 14-year veteran would be sidelined for "a few weeks. They're being pretty aggressive with the treatment on him, and we'll just see how he responds."

Williams, 36, has developed what Martz termed a "very severe arthritic condition in his neck." For now he'll remain on the roster, even though only three regular-season games remain.

"He's got to keep his legs in shape; he just can't hit anybody," Martz said. "We want to keep him in the flow and moving around, and he can serve us well as the scout team free safety. In a few weeks we'll see how he is pain-wise."


Arizona promotes St. Louisan to roster


Just in time for a game against his hometown Rams, the Arizona Cardinals have promoted linebacker Isaac Keys from their practice squad to the active roster. Keys, 26, is a St. Louis native who played at Hazelwood Central.

He was a three-year starter at Morehouse College in Atlanta, registering 25 sacks in his last two seasons there. Keys (6-3, 248) has had past NFL stints with the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers, but has yet to play in an NFL regular-season game.

Holt is Rams pick for NFL man of year


Rams wide receiver Torry Holt and four former Rams are among the 32 finalists, one from each team, for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which recognizes community service as well as on-the-field performance.

The ex-Rams are quarterbacks Kurt Warner (Giants) and Trent Green (Chiefs), tight end Roland Williams (Raiders) and defensive tackle Kevin Carter (Titans).


Linebaker is signed to practice squad

Linebacker Tony Newson has been re-signed to the practice squad, taking the spot left open when rookie safety Jason Shivers was claimed by Chicago on Monday. When Newson was released Dec. 7, he was told that he'd be back soon.

"Coach Martz said they expected it to be about two weeks, and I came back a week earlier," Newson said. "You never know. You've just got to learn how to deal with it. Whatever happens, happens. I just hung around town and worked out."

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