By Bill Coats

After struggling at times in the season opener at San Francisco, Rams guard Adam Timmerman acknowledged that he's not yet in ideal condition for the hostilities in the NFL trenches.

"Probably not," he said. "The body's still getting used to playing football. Really, I've only been playing for four weeks now. So, I'm still getting to where I want to be. I'm not quite there yet."

Timmerman, an 11-year veteran who has played in 158 consecutive games, had three offseason surgeries - one on each shoulder and on his right foot. Consequently, he couldn't participate in team activities and minicamp in the spring and didn't face contact until late in training camp. He sat out the first two preseason games.

"It's been tough, because my body hasn't really allowed me to do the extra stuff to get me to where I want to be, conditioning-wise," said Timmerman, 34. Trying to get into shape now is difficult "because you spend more of the regular season just trying to recover for the next week, rather than trying to press forward to get where you need to be."

Still, coach Mike Martz has noted some improvement. "He's back physically," Martz said. "He wasn't in the condition he needed to be, but he's getting close now."

Big start for Little - on paper

Had the Rams won last Sunday vs. the *****, defensive end Leonard Little would have been a viable candidate for NFC defensive-player-of-the-week honors. Little had nine tackles (four solo), two sacks and two forced fumbles in the 28-25 loss.

"After the season last year, with seven sacks, I just wanted to get off to a good start," Little said. "It just so happened we lost the game, so that good start really doesn't mean anything."

That was Little's lowest sack total since 2000. Still, his 53 sacks since then ranks fourth in the league.

Ex-Cardinal Lynch joins team

Last Sunday, Shawn Lynch was Arizona's starting center in its 42-19 loss to the New York Giants. On Friday, he joined the Rams' practice squad, replacing Toby Cecil on the eight-man unit.

"He's a starter in the league, and anybody that was a starter in the league that you can add to your practice squad, you're probably upgrading things a little bit," Martz said.

It should be noted, however, that it was the only game Lynch has started in the NFL. And Lynch, claimed off waivers from Minnesota in late August, was the Cardinals' fifth choice for the job. Injuries knocked out Alex Stepanovich, Nick Leckey and Bill Conaty, and Adam Haayer was a bust.

That left Lynch, who hadn't played a down in the league. Lynch, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound Duke product, was released Tuesday when Stepanovich, who had a broken hand, was cleared to play.


Cornerback Terry Fair (neck) won't play Sunday, but he vowed to be back for next week's home opener against Tennessee. "That's when I draw the line," Fair said. "I'm missing all the fun." ... Two former Rams had tryouts this week. Quarterback Jeff Smoker worked out for Indianapolis, and fullback Joey Goodspeed auditioned in Kansas City. ... The Rams are 5-3 versus the Cardinals since moving to St. Louis in 1995.