Of the Post-Dispatch

MACOMB, Ill. -- Those rumors about Marshall Faulk retiring this summer?

"I heard about it," Faulk said Thursday. "And it was news to me. Hopefully that answers the question."

In other words: No.

Faulk plans on playing in 2004. Why else would he show up for his 11th NFL training camp?

But in his first comments on the topic, Faulk indicated broadly that retirement could be a possibility after this season.

"This is probably the first year that I've thought, 'Man. If the body isn't acting right, what do I do?' " Faulk said. "Do I fight through it? Or do I not play?

"That's something that I'm going to have to evaluate at the end of the season, similar to what (Aeneas Williams) does."

Other than that, Faulk couldn't provide any sure answers on his right knee, which underwent clean-up surgery during the offseason. Or his future.

How's the knee?

"I don't know," Faulk said. "I practiced (Wednesday). I looked at film, and it looked pretty good. Of course, I'm critical about a lot of things that I do. But I felt pretty good about what I did (Wednesday) and how my body responded."

Faulk said he can understand the questions about his knee, the possibility of retirement, or concerns about his productivity. He's anxious to find out himself.

"Those are good questions," he told reporters. "It's things people should ask. Those are the things that are going to be answered this year. I feel up to the challenge. And we'll find out. As the season goes on, you guys will find out also."