Looker's bizarre injury is tough to look at
Gigantic bruise covers entire left thigh
BY STEVE KORTE
ST. LOUIS --
Of all the freak injuries that have struck the St. Louis Rams this season, wide receiver Dane Looker's thigh injury might be the most bizarre.
A dive to the turf as a member of the punt team last Sunday in a 35-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys resulted in Looker spending time in a hyperbaric chamber at the Baylor University Medical Center.
"I just hit the turf one time," Looker said. "It's a deal where your skin and your muscle separate from each other, and you start bleeding internally.
"It really started to swell up and bleed pretty heavily during the game."
Looker kept playing despite the injury. He caught a 9-yard pass -- his first reception since the 2005 season -- from backup quarterback Gus Frerotte late in the third quarter.
Rams coach Scott Linehan got a little choked up talking about how Looker kept going back on the field despite the injury.
"I said, 'Dane, you have to tell me."' Linehan said. "I didn't know it was that bad. He said, 'I just saw so many guys going down.'"
Looker said he also didn't realize the seriousness of the injury.
"I thought it just might be a bursa sac or something that is just filling with fluid, so I kept playing and it continued to bleed," Looker said. "They say I lost about 40 percent of my blood into my leg. That's the scary part, and that's why they held me down there."
Looker spent Sunday night and all of Monday in the hospital because doctors didn't think it was safe for him to make the flight back to St. Louis.
Looker was placed in the hyperbaric chamber -- most commonly known for treating scuba divers with decompression sickness-- for a couple of two-hour sessions.
"Only two things they consider an emergency situation for the hyperbaric," Looker said. "One is carbon monoxide poisoning and the other is compartmental syndrome.
"Compartmental syndrome basically is where your leg clots up and no blood passes to the rest of your body. You can lose your leg or have serious consequences."
Looker said he killed time by watching movies outside one of the portals of the hyperbaric chamber.
"It's like your diving down in a submarine," Looker said.
Looker has a bright purple bruise covering his entire left thigh and hip. He walks with the aid of crutches, but it's not because he can't stand on his left leg. He's more worried about becoming light-headed from blood loss and losing his balance.
Looker said he needs to undergo blood transfusions to speed his recovery. He said he has several family members preparing to donate blood for the transfusions.
"It will take 6-8 weeks to get my blood back where it is supposed to be naturally, so I don't really want to take it that long," Looker said.
Asked if he expected to play again this season, Looker said, "Absolutely."
Looker has been the Rams' holder on field goals and PATs for the last four years. His absence means that slumping kicker Jeff Wilkins will have to adjust to punter Donnie Jones serving as the holder.
Jones was the holder for Miami kicker Olindo Mare in 2005 and 2006.
Jones also serves as the holder for Wilkins during practice when Looker is working with the offense.
"It's not really new," Jones said. "Dane is always catching passes and doing offensive drills, so I always warm him up."
Wilkins has missed three of his last four field goal attempts. He missed a 28-yard chip shot against the Cowboys.
Jones said he tried to give Wilkins a little pep talk.
"Being a kicker, the mental part of the game is huge," Jones said. "I just try to reinforce with, 'Hey, you've done this for 14 years now and you're one of the most accurate in history. Everybody is going to have bad game or a bad two games. Just come out of it.'
"He's a great teammate and a great guy. We have full confidence in him. I'm going to go out and do what I need to do to put the ball perfect for him, and get him on a roll."
Both wide receiver Isaac Bruce (hamstring) and strong safety Corey Chavous (pectoral muscle) have been ruled out for the Rams' game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. ... Defensive end James Hall (pectoral muscle) will start against the Cardinals. He was able to fully participate in practice Friday. ... Rookie running back Antonio Pittman could see some carries this Sunday in a reserve role. "We'll plan on getting him some snaps," Linehan said. "There is no guarantee on that, but he is definitely more in the mix as far as playing time this week."