By Jim Thomas
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It was Tuesday, player's day off in the NFL, so Rams offensive guard Adam Timmerman was sleeping in. But around 9 a.m., St. Louis time, he was awakened by his wife, Jana.

"She's like, 'Come here! You've got to check this out,' " Timmerman recalled.

On this date, Sept. 11, 2001, Timmerman watched the second terrorist-directed plane strike the World Trade Center in New York on live television.

"I'm looking at it, and it just seemed not real," Timmerman said.

Roland Williams, then a tight end for Oakland, had similar thoughts.

"I thought it wasn't real," Williams said. "I thought it was like a movie or something."

Williams was supposed to fly to Los Angeles to appear on an episode of "Best Damn Sports Show." Those plans, like so many others in the United States that day, were changed.

"The people from the TV show called me and said, 'I don't think you're going to the airport. You're going to stay home,' " Williams said.

For 28 teams throughout the NFL, opening day for the 2005 season comes on Sunday, Sept. 11. It marks the first time the league is playing games on Sept. 11 since the terrorist attacks four years ago.

"When you hear that date, it just can't help but jog your memory," Timmerman said. "You hear 9/11, it just makes you think of what happened. Plus, I think we played San Francisco the first game after 9/11."

That they did. The league called off all games the weekend of Sept. 16, but returned to action the following Sunday - Sept. 23 - with the Rams playing at San Francisco (and winning 30-26).

This Sunday, the Rams return to San Francisco for their season opener.

"I'm sure it'll bring back memories," Timmerman said.

Sunday's games will be played in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it brought to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

"It's very reminiscent," Timmerman said. "With probably more people affected."

Several Rams players were quizzed Friday about the possibility of something crazy happening this Sept. 11. But none seemed concerned.

"Obviously, it being 9/11, the alert is probably going to be higher," wide receiver Dane Looker said. "But you can't live in fear like that. If something's going to happen like that, it can happen any day of the year. I don't think it will affect our mind-set going into the game."

Williams added: "I have confidence in the NFL, and every security precaution that they take. We're going to go out, and hopefully entertain America."

Injury concerns at DT

Although he remains listed as probable, defensive tackle Damione Lewis was a spectator during team drills Friday, the Rams' last full-scale practice of the week.

Lewis suffered a sprained toe in the team's exhibition finale on Sept. 2 against Kansas City.

He said a cortisone shot has helped.

"It made it feel a lot better than it felt (Thursday)," Lewis said. "I feel pretty good going into the game."

If Lewis is limited against San Francisco, the Rams could be paper thin at defensive tackle Sunday.

Starter Ryan Pickett missed the team's last three preseason games because of back problems. Although listed as questionable, Pickett took a regular turn in practice Friday. Nonetheless, Jimmy Kennedy and Brian Howard are the only totally healthy defensive tackles.