By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch


First-team cornerback Jerametrius Butler's season is over after surgery last week on a torn knee ligament. Now the status of another starter is in question, at least for the short term.

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett is battling a nagging back problem that kept him out of last Sunday's preseason game in San Diego and will sideline him for Monday night's contest in Detroit. Coach Mike Martz said Saturday that even after a thorough series of tests, the cause of Pickett's pain remains a mystery.

"We've MRI'd him, we've atomic-bombed him, atomic-scanned him, twisted him. We've looked at every inch of him and can't find anything," Martz said. "So I'm at a loss, to be honest with you. I don't know what's going on with him. ... We'll just have to be patient. I don't believe this is something that's going to keep him out for a long period of time."

Pickett, 6 feet 2 and 330 pounds, was injured during the team's practice at Washington University on Aug. 6. He said he felt severe pain after grappling with 300-pound center Andy McCollum.

"They've done everything possible to test it. They're really trying to find the root of the problem," Pickett said. "Everything came back negative, so that's a positive. ... They said it's probably some strained muscles."

Although he said he was "getting better, much better," Pickett stressed that because he'd experienced setbacks while trying to come back earlier, he wants to be 100 percent before he tries to go full-bore again.

First-team cornerback Travis Fisher also skipped practice Saturday with a sore back, but he said he planned to play Monday. Fisher said the pain started after he received a cortisone shot for a hip injury earlier in camp.

"Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm over-reacting. But there's some kind of tightness in my lower back, and it happened after I got the shot," he said. "I've been practicing with it for a couple of days, and I kind of backed off (Saturday) to see if it'd calm down a little bit."

Corey Ivy took reps with the first team in Fisher's place. DeJuan Groce is filling Butler's spot at the other corner.

Updating other injuries:

Defensive end Anthony Hargrove reported that he suffered a small fracture in his left hand while making a tackle Friday. He said the hand felt good in practice Saturday and shouldn't keep him off the field.

Cornerback Duvol Thompson (broken hand) will make the trip to Detroit and might play. He didn't travel with the team to San Diego.

Reporter Bill Coats
Phone: 314-340-8189