By Bill Coats
Friday, Dec. 08 2006

The knee injury suffered by veteran center Andy McCollum in the opening game
ended his season. But, he assured, it didn't end his career.

"I definitely do" plan to return in 2007, McCollum said. "Lord willing, I'm
going to be out there and give it another shot. I feel like I can still play at
a high level."

McCollum was barely 1 1/2 quarters into his 13th NFL season when it was over in
a blink. A Denver Broncos defender fell into McCollum's left leg, tearing two
ligaments in the knee. He underwent surgery Oct. 24 and has been rehabbing
daily since then.

"It's slow, and it's a pain in the butt, but it's coming along good," he said.
"They tell me I'm ahead of their schedule, so that feels pretty good. They
won't let me run yet, but they said maybe next week or so. It feels like I
could, though."

McCollum, 36, hadn't missed any of his 181 NFL games, including 97 consecutive
starts, because of injury before going down Sept. 10 on a 23-yard pass play
from quarterback Marc Bulger to wide receiver Torry Holt.

Sitting out, he stressed, increased his determination to get back onto the
field. "Definitely ... absolutely," he said. "And I didn't realize how much it
would, to be honest with you. But it really did."

Injury report

With nearly half the members of the secondary nursing injuries, reserves Dwaine
Carpenter, Ron Bartell and even the long-lost Jerametrius Butler worked with
the first unit at practice Thursday.

As the Rams prepared for Monday night's match with the Chicago Bears, starters
Tye Hill (thigh) and O.J. Atogwe (concussion), along with extra back Jerome
Carter (ankle), were out. In were Carpenter for Atogwe at free safety, Bartell
for Hill at cornerback and Butler a former starter who has suited up only
five games this season as the fifth back in passing situations.

Carpenter, a fourth-year pro, hasn't played on defense since the last game of
the 2004 season, when he was with San Francisco. He has appeared in five games
over two seasons with the Rams, all on special teams.

"I'm real eager to get in there and play," said Carpenter, who was released
Oct. 3 but re-signed a week later. "I feel like I've been kind of grounded,
like a little kid."

Carpenter acknowledged that his understanding of the defense wasn't as keen as
it should be.

"I'm not going to say I know it pretty well; I know it good enough," he said.
"It's just getting accustomed to the other players, how they're going to play.
I'm going to adjust the way I play off what they're doing."

Atogwe, Hill and Carter remained questionable on Thursday's injury report, as
did defensive end Victor Adeyanju (arm). Linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski
(concussion) was doubtful.


With two field goals and two extra points Sunday against Arizona, kicker Jeff
Wilkins topped 100 points for the seventh time in his 13-year career. Wilkins
has 102 points; his high was 163 in 2003, when he led the league in scoring.
... Steven Jackson's 69 rushing yards vs. the Cardinals pushed him over 1,000
for the second time in his three seasons. He has 1,028 yards after getting
1,046 last year