BY BILL COATS Thursday, December 9, 2010 12:15 am


On Oct. 17, linebacker David Nixon had a career day, piling up nine tackles for the Houston Texans in a 35-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. On Oct. 19, Nixon was unemployed, summarily released by his hometown team.

"It was a shock ... it still is," said Nixon, promoted this week to the Rams' 53-man roster from the practice squad. "I found that in the NFL, things like that can happen. ... (The Texans) needed to move in a different direction, and unfortunately it was at my expense."

Signed by the Rams on Oct. 25, Nixon could get his first chance to earn his keep Sunday, when the Rams take on the Super Bowl-champion Saints in New Orleans. Nixon's roster spot previously was occupied by first-team strongside linebacker Na'il Diggs, who suffered a season-ending chest injury last Sunday at Arizona.

"I always prepare myself that any time I had to be called up, I'd be ready," Nixon said. "Unfortunately, it was because of an injury. But they brought me up, and I hope I can contribute any way possible to help this team win these next four games."

Any immediate help Nixon provides figures to come on special teams. "Special teams is something I feel like is kind of my niche," he said. As for his defensive assignment, he's taking scout-team snaps at strongside linebacker, though he packs just 225 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame.

Nixon, 25, made Oakland's roster in 2009 as an undrafted rookie out of Brigham Young. He got into three games his rookie season, then suited up for three of the Texans' first five games this year.

A former Eagle Scout, Nixon's road to the NFL was interrupted by a two-year Mormon mission to Quito, Ecuador, after his freshman season at BYU. "It was a great time, one of the best experiences of my life," he said. "I went down there, lost 25 pounds, and came back to BYU at about 197. I gained the weight back quickly and played those next three years."

He was older than most of the prospects in '09, which might explain why he wasn't drafted.

"I think there were some positives and negatives about it," Nixon said. "A positive, I became more mature; I was able to grow up a little bit. A negative, as in, your body's a little bit older. Obviously as you get older, you tend to break down a little bit.

"But I think overall, it's worked out fine."

Brees aids Bradford

When Sam Bradford was about to undergo shoulder surgery last year, he received counsel from someone who had gone threw a similar operation — Saints quarterback Drew Brees. He suffered a torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder in the last game of the 2005 season in San Diego.

"I just called him just to try to be there for him if he needed any advice or just to kind of help him through that time, because I know that's a tough deal going through that rehab," Brees said.

"He was awesome," Bradford said. "He answered every question I had. Very helpful."

Brees' recovery is complete, as proved by five standout seasons in New Orleans. And Bradford appears to be fully healthy; he's taken every snap this season for the Rams.

"When you start any season, you never want to be injured, you never want to miss any time," Bradford said. "I've been fortunate this year to not miss any snaps and to be able to be out there with my guys all the time."

INJURY REPORT

After practice Wednesday, Bradford reported that his ankle — described Monday as 'sore and bruised" by coach Steve Spagnuolo — is fine now.

"There was really never a problem with it," Bradford said. "Felt great today, did everything. Really, no problems."

Cornerback Ron Bartell (neck), safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (shoulder), running back Kenneth Darby (ribs) and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (ankle) sat out practice. Cornerbacks Jerome Murphy (hamstring) and Justin King (shoulder) and safety Craig Dahl (knee) were limited.

Linebacker Chris Chamberlain was a full participant despite being diagnosed with a small fracture in his right hand. Chamberlain, who is wearing a cast, was hurt on the opening kickoff Sunday.

RAM-BLINGS

Diggs is scheduled for surgery Friday to repair his torn pectoral muscle. ... The Saints are riding a five-game winning streak in which they've averaged 30.4 points.