Rams' Avery eyes quick return
BY JIM THOMAS
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
08/26/2009

It was a two-touchdown day for Donnie Avery, albeit for the Rams' scout team Tuesday at Rams Park.

"Hands still work. Feet still work," Avery reported, with a grin.

The mere fact that he was running routes less than three weeks after suffering a stress fracture in his left foot rates as some of the best news of the preseason.

"Like I tell my teammates, I run fast but I heal fast," Avery said.

Avery was injured Aug. 7 during the Rams' scrimmage at Lindenwood University. "One of the 'DBs' landed on the back foot trying to make the tackle, and I got my foot caught up with his," Avery said.

The original projection was a four- to six-week recovery, which at the worst would have sidelined him for two regular-season games. Now it looks as if Avery may be out for only four weeks tops. He isn't expected to play Thursday in Cincinnati, and his availability remains uncertain for the Sept. 3 preseason finale against Kansas City.

But as for the regular-season opener in Seattle any doubt about playing there?

"Zero doubt," Avery said. "I know I work hard. And I knew it wasn't going to take me four to six weeks. So it was just in my head that I was going to come back sooner."

Avery has done a lot of running this week and looks as fast as ever, prompting jokes that the time off has prevented him from getting camp legs. His two TD catches Tuesday came during a red zone period.

"It feels great," he said. "Right now, it's just a mental thing. I can't even feel it when I practice out there."

Nonetheless, Avery has yet to be officially cleared to play in a game. When asked what must happen to get cleared, Avery replied, "Whatever the trainer says, and the dean says."

The dean?

"We call Spags the dean," Avery said. "He runs everything, so ..."

So coach Steve Spagnuolo is now the dean of Rams Park.

CARRIKER WORKS

Defensive tackle Adam Carriker appears to be close to returning from a sprained left ankle, an injury he suffered in the Lindenwood scrimmage. On Tuesday, Carriker got a fair amount of work during 11-on-11 periods, even though it came with the third-string defense.

Spagnuolo seems to be old-school on such matters, or perhaps he's trying to make a point that Carriker must work his way back into the starting lineup. Either way, Carriker a first-round draft pick in 2007 said he's OK with his current practice status. Gary Gibson, who started the first two preseason games in Carriker's absence, continues to work with the starting defense.

"Gibby's been out there practicing with the '1s,' " Carriker said. "He's earned that right, right now. So I've got to start somewhere."

It's the same ankle that bothered Carriker last year. At the Lindenwood scrimmage, Carriker said, "I was just taking on a block and it just gave out on me. I don't know if my cleat got stuck in the ground or exactly what happened."

Carriker said it's just a matter of getting the ankle stronger before he's ready to play in games once again.

LITTLE HAS SPRAIN

Although he didn't take part in team periods Tuesday, Leonard Little participated in individual drills and seemed to be moving well. He tweaked his knee during practice Monday, but it turned out to be more scare than serious injury. According to Spagnuolo, an MRI showed that it was a sprain.

"It's something we don't want to mess with," Spagnuolo said. "By that, I mean we don't want to throw him right back out there. But if you ask Leonard, he'd tell you if we were playing a regular-season game tomorrow, he'd go. That's him."