Quarterback Situation Uncertain for Sunday
Wednesday, December 15, 2004

By Nick Wagoner
Staff Writer

Quarterback Marc Bulger made his return to the practice field on Wednesday. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will return to the playing field on Sunday, but it is a sign of progress.

Bulger, who missed last week’s game against Carolina with a right shoulder sprain, threw the ball in warm-ups and about another 12 in some short team drills. He did not have as much zip on his throws as normal, but that was mostly because he was doing his best to ease back into it, according to coach Mike Martz.

“He threw the ball much better today than I predicted,” Martz said. “He didn’t turn it loose. He feels like he could, but he didn’t attempt to. We’ll just let it go until Friday and see where is on Friday.”

Bulger is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Arizona. In the meantime, it appears that veteran Chris Chandler will get the start for the second consecutive week. Chandler threw six interceptions in the worst outing of his career against the Panthers last week.

Chandler was inconsolable after the game, taking all of the blame for the 20-7 loss. He still appears to be trying to get over the difficult loss. Martz attempted to help Chandler out Monday, claiming that he asked Chandler to do too much, but Chandler insists that his coach is just attempting to share in the blame.

“Mike’s just trying to be a nice guy,” Chandler said. “It was just a bad thing on my part. I’ve never had a day like that. I’m still trying to sort it out.”

The sooner the better for Chandler. Martz did not really consider pulling Chandler in last week’s game, mostly because rookie backup Jeff Smoker isn’t quite ready to step in and play. This week, though, Jamie Martin will likely be ready to play if needed and Martz might have a quicker hook if things go wrong.

Bulger seemed to be solid in practice Wednesday and will probably take more repetitions as the week goes on. Martz said that most of Bulger’s pain and problems comes from his follow through and not his actual throwing motion. It could come down to a gametime decision this week if Bulger continues to perform and show that he can make all of the throws needed in practice.

Martz said he would wait as long as he has to to make a decision on Bulger.

“If there’s any doubt, we will keep him out,” Martz said. “I think Sunday morning is pretty good (in determining when he will play). We’ll get him out in the parking lot and pitch it around a little bit and we’ll roll. I would not hesitate one minute if on Friday he is ready to go.”

More than likely, Bulger will not be ready to go Sunday. Regardless of who gets the start, any quarterback on the active roster will need to be ready just in case.

RUNNING BACKS BACK: Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk returned to practice Wednesday and looked to be in fine condition. Faulk, who is listed as probable with a bruised knee, ran with the vigor that he had earlier in the season. He has not played since Nov. 29 against Buffalo. Martz said Faulk would let him know when he is ready to go again.

Jackson missed last week’s game against Carolina with a bruised knee one week after making his first career start. Jackson is questionable. If Jackson and Faulk are both ready to play then Arlen Harris will also be active, leaving Aveion Cason as a likely inactive.

“I think we might be at full strength at running back,” Martz said.

WILLIAMS POSSIBLY DONE: Safety Aeneas Williams left Sunday’s game with a stinger in his neck. Martz said Wednesday that Williams’ injury is arthritis in his neck and he probably won’t return this season. Williams is doubtful for this week.

“Aeneas is probably done for awhile,” Martz said.

INJURY REPORT: Joining Jackson and Bulger as questionable is guard Chris Dishman. Dishman has been out with a knee injury and practiced Wednesday. He isn’t likely to be available Sunday, but could return before the end of the season.

Joining Faulk as probable are cornerbacks Jerametrius Butler (knee) and Travis Fisher (knee), defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson (toe), linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (shoulder) and tackle Grant Williams (shoulder).

Bulger, Butler, Dishman, Fisher, Tinoisamoa and Williams missed parts or all of practice.