Bulger plans to return from broken ribs against Seattle
ST. LOUIS -- Watching the winless St. Louis Rams lose two more games while he nursed two broken ribs was long enough on the sidelines for Marc Bulger. It'll be months before those injuries heal, but his beat-up team needs him.
Bulger said Monday he plans to return to the lineup this week, and coach Scott Linehan said the quarterback would be cleared to play at Seattle.
"Yeah, I'm playing," Bulger said. "I'm ready now after standing around for two weeks. They definitely feel a little better, but I haven't been hit."
Bulger said he couldn't worry about compounding those injuries.
"I don't think we have an option right now," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's smart, I think I have to."
The 0-6 Rams' start matches the worst in franchise history in 1962, when the team finished 1-12-1 while based in Los Angeles. Bulger didn't take himself out of the lineup two weeks ago, and now he believes he owes it to his teammates to get back in there.
"Marc's always been about what's best for the team and wanting to win," Linehan said. "It's kind of a spark. Things can turn fast for us when we start getting players back on the field."
Another impact player on the Rams' offense, Steven Jackson, could miss his third straight game with a partially torn groin. Linehan said Jackson had a "very outside" chance of playing this week.
Linehan said Bulger told him in the middle of last week that he was much improved, and noticed he also looked better in practice that the "extreme discomfort" that had hampered him was gone.
Backup Gus Frerotte threw five interceptions and lost a fumble in Sunday's 22-3 loss at Baltimore and has thrown eight interceptions the last two weeks as the stand-in starter. Bulger was picked off only eight times all last season, earning his second Pro Bowl berth and a six-year, $65 million contract extension in July.
"We're real excited to have him back," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "He's one of the best there is in the business when you can keep him in the pocket. We've got to find a way to keep Marc protected."
That's a tall order considering the offensive line is without tackle Orlando Pace (shoulder) and guard Mark Setterstrom (knee) and fill-in starter tackle Adam Goldberg (knee) is out for the year. Top backup Todd Steussie (broken foot) could miss another month while healing from a training camp injury.
Center Brett Romberg, the lone player to start every game at his position, sprained his left ankle in the Ravens loss. Linehan said Romberg's status would be determined later in the week.
"It seems like every week we're playing with a new 11, and that makes it difficult," Olson said.
Bulger took a pounding early and was below 50 percent in passing accuracy for the first time in his career in a loss at Tampa Bay before being taken out of the lineup. Frerotte was sacked four times on Sunday, hiking the Rams' total to 17.
Bulger sympathized with the plight of his backup, who found himself throwing to other backups on Sunday with Isaac Bruce (hamstring) out and Drew Bennett leaving with a hamstring injury in the second quarter. Second-year player Marques Hagans, a quarterback at Virginia, and return man Brandon Williams, added to the roster earlier in the week, were among his uncertain targets.
"The only quarterback who hasn't gone through it is the one who hasn't played," Bulger said. "You know what he's going through, he's not getting help and getting hit.
"A defense like that on the road gets momentum, it's blood in the water and they keep coming."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press