As the Rams prepare to play their final two home games of the season, both against division rivals, there was more shuffling in the team's secondary.
Cornerback Tye Hill, who hasn't played since the fourth game of the season because of a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve, and safety Corey Chavous was replaced in the starting lineup by Todd Johnson.

Coaches had considered making the move to Johnson for several weeks but hesitated because of the intangibles Chavous brings to the group. With a 2-11 record, coach Jim Haslett finally decided it was time to get the younger Johnson more playing time.

Said Haslett, "I think he deserves it. He's the one guy on our team that really hasn't had the chance to go out there and show himself. When he gets in there he plays pretty well. Last year, he played in the Baltimore game, we did a nice job in the run game with O.J. (Atogwe) down in the box and Todd in space. I think with those two you have the ability to play left and right, play strong open, weak tight because they both have a pretty good handle on what you want.

"Todd's a really smart guy, he's a good football player, he can tackle, he started a number of games in this league in Chicago and did a good job. I think he'll bring a calmness to the defense and he'll be effective in his own way. He's not going to be flashy, he's not a flashy type of guy. He's the kind of guy that gets out there and gets the job done."

Asked how tough it was to give the news to Chavous, Haslett said, "We had a great discussion yesterday about 45 minutes. First of all, the guy's a great guy, a team player, always will be. Before I even got it out of my mouth, he told me what I was going to tell him. I appreciate it. If I was going to have a guy that I was going to build around, I would say follow that guy around that's the guy I want you to be like. He studies, he prepares, he knows the opponent, he spends time watching film. He actually is the reason, I think, OJ kind of took off because him and OJ sit beside each other. He taught OJ how to study, how to take notes, how to prepare to play. Then, obviously, OJ's athleticism's taken him to where he is now, but he, I think single-handedly, is the reason why OJ's ready to play games because of Corey.

"He's your team captain, voted by the players. He's well-respected in the locker room and he's well-respected by the coaches. I love the guy, I mean, like I said, I didn't even get it out my mouth yet and he was telling me what I was going to say and understood and he said I'm here to do whatever you want. I'm going to play (special) teams, that's how I made my living early in my career. Then we talked about our football team and after that we just talked about what he thought we needed in the future. I'll let him tell you that but he said... 'This is not your team, this is what you had in New Orleans and I know what you're trying to build.' And we kind of just talked about that. But he's a great guy and if something happens, he'll be ready to step in and play and we won't miss a beat."

When asked if Chavous would make a good coach, Haslett said, "I think Corey could coach, I think he could be in personnel because the man studies more film than anybody. He knows players; he does all that scouting in the offseason. I think he can go a number of different avenues. Now, does he want to spend the time in coaching, I don't know. We talked about that yesterday, you know, maybe coming back as a backup, Jimmy Spencer-type guy who was a coach/player for Denver for a number of years and then he got into coaching, finally got out of playing, went into coaching. I think he's going to leave his options open. I do think the guy loves football, he loves the game. And if I know Corey, he'll want to stay playing."

Meanwhile, Hill was shut down after playing just four games this season and 12 in the last two years. He was a first-round pick in 2006, showed progress during his rookie season, but then suffered back and wrist injuries last season and the knee problem this year after having some confidence issues early in the season.

Asked if Hill can be salvaged, Haslett said, "Well, yeah, he's salvageable. Corners are always like that. His confidence is really shot now. But I'll tell you one thing it'll make him do. I think when you miss this much time it makes you appreciate the game and appreciate what you don't have. Then, when you come back you come back and play for it a little bit more because you know it can end at any time and you just went through it and you missed games. I was talking to him today about how he misses the game and I said, 'Well, this will make you appreciate it a little bit more. Maybe you'll work a little bit harder and do some things right, realizing that it can end at any time.' I think the guys that do get hurt and they do miss some time, I think they appreciate the game a little bit more."

SERIES HISTORY: 21st regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead, 11-9. Since the Rams won three games from the Seahawks in 2004, including a playoff game, Seattle has won seven consecutive games in the series.

NOTES, QUOTES

With PK Josh Brown not practicing Wednesday because of a groin injury, WR Dane Looker did the kicking. And kick he did. A kicker in high school, Looker made four of five field-goal attempts, including one from about 50 yards.

Said Looker, "When I was little, yeah, (I played soccer). I just try to do a little bit of everything. We were so good in high school that we didn't kick many long field goals and we had an aggressive coach. I think I made one that was in the long 40s."

Looker is close to a scratch golfer, and has also been the holder for the Rams on kicks. Said coach Jim Haslett, "Dane is a good athlete, good golfer, you saw him kick the field goals. He can punt. He really is an exceptional athlete."

As for Brown, he is expected to be able to kick Friday in practice, and then be ready Sunday against the Seahawks, his previous team.

CB Quincy Butler, added on waivers from the Cowboys Monday, practiced for the first time Wednesday. The Rams see him as someone who could compete down the road, and he has already been signed to a contract for 2009.

Said Butler, "Considering what they've got here it's a good opportunity for me to come here and contribute to the team and add on to the building process they are going through right now. I am just here to learn and hopefully I can help the team."

QB Marc Bulger showed some frustration with rookie WR Donnie Avery during Sunday's game against Arizona. Wednesday, Bulger was asked about the team's young receivers struggling to run routes correctly.

"We are a little young in some spots and those growing pains are going to happen," Bulger said. "You get frustrated but I don't know anyone who walks on the football field and doesn't get frustrated at some point. I would not look too far into it. It is something that happens when you are young and we are going to be better for it in the future."

BY THE NUMBERS: 4-18 The Rams' record in divisional games since the start of the 2005 season. In addition, the Rams are 1-9 at home against NFC West teams in that same time period.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It is a big play. Every play is a big play. I go out with the mindset that I'm never going to miss. From looking at the film, that kick looks completely different than the 51-yarder as far as my body language. Just how I'm kicking the ball, it seemed a little lackadaisical. It's an unfortunate thing and it sets the team back and the energy of the team at that time. Does it win or lose the game? No, I don't think so. There's still 45 minutes left in the game. Every play is important and every point that we get is just more and more energy and more and more momentum for this team. I don't really take a whole lot of account into it, because I am my biggest critic. I don't point fingers because then there's always three fingers pointing back at me." PK Josh Brown on comments by coach Jim Haslett, saying that Brown's missed 42-yard field goal against Arizona was one of the biggest disappointments in the game.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Although coach Jim Haslett said RT Alex Barron "paid his debt to society" after not playing for almost three quarters Sunday because of being late to a team meeting, Barron split time with Adam Goldberg in practice Wednesday.


PLAYER NOTES

LB Gary Stills has bone chips in his knee and did not practice Wednesday. Stills had the knee drained Wednesday, but is still hopeful of being able to play Sunday. He will have surgery on the knee after the season.

CB Fakhir Brown did not practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury, but is expected to be able to play Sunday against Seattle.

RG Richie Incognito did not practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury, but is expected to be available for Sunday's game against the Seahawks.

G John Greco took all the snaps at right guard in practice Wednesday with Richie Incognito watching with an ankle injury.

WR Torry Holt did not practice Wednesday simply to rest his legs at this stage of his 10th NFL season.

S Todd Johnson will start Sunday instead of team captain Corey Chavous.

GAME PLAN: RB Steven Jackson has had some of his better games at home, and the Rams will try to run him so they can open up the passing game. Protecting the ball will be the key, considering two key fumbles Jackson had in the second half against Arizona.

Defensively, the goal will be to keep Seattle from getting an early lead. Arizona led 14-0 last week in the first quarter, and for the season, the Rams have been outscored 117-47 and 21 of the Rams' first-quarter points came in a 34-14 victory over Dallas.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams interior line vs. Seahawks DTs Brandon Mebane and Rocky Bernard The Rams have to win these matchups to establish the run and limit obvious passing situations.

Rams defense vs. Seahawks QB Seneca Wallace: Assuming Wallace plays, the defense will have to be disciplined and keep Wallace from making plays with his arm and legs.

INJURY IMPACT: The Rams' special teams have been one bright spot this season, but there could be some adverse effect this week with S Todd Johnson starting and Gary Stills bothered by a knee injury. Johnson won't play as much on special teams, so others will have to pick up the slack.