Bulger happy as backup with Ravens
Bulger happy as backup with Ravens
BY BILL COATS • Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 12:05 am
Not that he's losing any sleep over it, but Marc Bulger knows he might receive a rude reception Thursday night when his new team, the Baltimore Ravens, visits the Edward Jones Domes.
"I've been so busy trying to learn the offense here and learn everyone's name around the building and learn teammates' names, I haven't thought about it," Bulger said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "I can see it going either way."
After spending most of eight seasons as the Rams' first-team quarterback, Bulger was released in early April — about three weeks before the club took Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the first pick in the draft.
Bulger, 33, wasn't surprised he was let go after last season's 1-15 finish capped a three-year slide in which the Rams went 6-42.
"It was my responsibility to get us to win more games, and I didn't get it done," he said. "I figured that it would've been my head, and it was. I completely understand it. That's how this business works."
Still, Bulger wasn't eager to leave the town that he's decided to make his home.
"I have great memories. I can't believe I was there pretty much a decade," he said. "I met a lot of good friends that I'll be friends with forever. ... It'll actually be nice to get home and hang a little bit with my wife (Mavis) and baby (Elsa, 5 months) over the weekend."
A sixth-round draft pick by New Orleans in 2000, Bulger arrived in St. Louis as a free agent in 2001. He backed up Kurt Warner that season, then moved into the starting lineup the next season because of injuries to Warner and Jamie Martin.
The Rams won 18 of the first 22 games that Bulger started. He went on to earn Pro Bowl selections in 2003 and 2006. But starting in '07, Bulger's fortunes — and the team's — plummeted.
The Rams prevailed in just five of Bulger's last 35 starts. During that span, his completion rate, at least 63.0 percent in each of the previous five seasons, dipped to 57.4. A succession of injuries, ranging from a fractured shinbone to broken ribs to shoulder woes, chipped away at Bulger, hampering his effectiveness and turning him into a popular target for critics.
"You can't really play this game based on ... how people are going to receive you," running back Steven Jackson said. "Everyone at some point becomes a goat, I guess. That's unfortunate that he took a lot of blame that I don't think was fair. ... He was a great teammate for six years. He helped me grow a lot, especially in some of the things that I've been doing as a receiver. He's helped me build confidence in that area of my game.
"I have a soft spot for Marc. We're good friends, so regardless what uniform he has on, I know the person, and that's what matters."
Bulger signed with the Ravens in mid-July. He's back in a No. 2 spot, behind Joe Flacco. Bulger said he's just now feeling the effects of his change in roles.
"Preseason's not too much different. I know I'm working with the 'twos,' but you get about the same amount of reps as the 'ones,'" he said. "Starting with the third week and now into the fourth week, my reps are starting to cut back. So I've noticed a difference more probably in the last week than earlier in camp.
"It'll be a little adjustment once the season starts."
Flacco, 25, is entering his third season as the Ravens' quarterback. He's coming off a breakout season in which he hit on 63.1 percent of his passes, threw for 3,613 yards and guided Baltimore into the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
Bulger is a willling tutor, but as he noted, Flacco "knows the ins and outs of (the) offense a little better than me right now. ...
"But I think we're starting to get a relationship now where he kind of takes what he wants from me and discards what he doesn't," Bulger continued. "He's an impressive quarterback. I see him going to multiple Pro Bowls."
Several publications have tagged the Ravens as favorites in the AFC North. After the struggles the last few years with the Rams, Bulger is eagerly anticipating a successful season.
"I think we've got a pretty good team here," he said. "To have your expectations to go the playoffs, win the division, obviously the Super Bowl ... it's pretty exciting to be back in that atmosphere."