Rams' Faulk gets to face off against Patriots, cousin


R.B. FALLSTROM

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS - A bonus for Trev Faulk's first career start: he might get a chance to tackle his cousin for the first time.

The St. Louis Rams' middle linebacker grew up emulating Kevin Faulk, the New England Patriots' running back who's five years older. Both went to the same school, LSU.

"He was always kind of the guy whose footsteps I was following, and the guy who I was always coming after," Trev Faulk said.

The two collaborated on a football camp this summer. They were reunited again in grief when Kevin Faulk's mother, and Trev Faulk's aunt, died in September.

There's another couple of get-togethers planned for this weekend for the Faulks, neither of whom is related to Rams star Marshall Faulk. One of the cousins' gatherings will be social, the other competitive.

"We might have dinner Saturday night, a big family event or something like that," Trev Faulk said. "I'll definitely be talking to him."

The backdrop of this reunion is the first meeting between the teams since the 2002 Super Bowl when the Patriots upset the heavily-favored Rams 20-17.

"We both have a bunch of family coming down for the game," Trev Faulk said. "They were planning to come to this game before, and now it'll be even more special. It's definitely going to be exciting."

So, for him, would be some collisions with his cousin on the field.

"I've got to make the play; I just have to make the play," Trev Faulk said. "Of course that'll be exciting, and in the offseason we'll probably talk about that and get a chance to reflect on it."

Actually, Trev Faulk would like collisions with anyone.

"I like a lot of contact," he said. "Even though I'm not the biggest guy out there, I like to run around and bang into people. Sometimes it even feels good to me when I'm getting hit by other people. "

Faulk, who was undrafted out of college and is in his first season with the Rams, will be the third player to start at middle linebacker this season. Robert Thomas was a No. 1 pick in 2002 and began the year as the starter, but is likely to miss his third straight game with a sprained ankle.

Rookie Brandon Chillar, a fourth-round pick, started the last two games in the middle but pulled a hamstring in the first quarter of a 31-14 loss at Miami two weeks ago. Chillar returned to practice this week but coach Mike Martz said Faulk has played too well not to start.

Against the Dolphins, Trev Faulk had six tackles, five of them solos. He's also tied for the team lead with eight special teams tackles.

"He has seized the starting role, there's no question about it," Martz said. "It's his to lose."

Martz showered praise on Trev Faulk earlier in the week, and was especially complimentary about his readiness.

"For him to do what he did mentally, to stay up on it without taking any reps, was pretty incredible," Martz said. "He's probably the best hitter we have on the team."

Chillar was back on the practice field this week. He understood the move.

"It's part of the game, and I've just got to roll with this kind of stuff," Chillar said. "There's a lot of games left and hopefully I'll have a long career."

Notes:@ Marshall Faulk needs 23 yards from scrimmage to pass Barry Sanders for fourth place on the career list. He enters the game with 18,168. ... Since 1998, the Rams are 19-6 against the AFC. They've won 11 in a row at home. ... Sean Landeta is tied for first in the NFC with a 43.7-yard average. ... Martz has 49 victories, tied for third in franchise history with George Allen. Martz is 49-27 in five seasons and Allen was 49-119-4 from 1966-70. ... Kicker Jeff Wilkins has made 259 consecutive extra points, the third-best streak in NFL history. ... The Rams are 18-5 in October since 1999, best in the NFL.