Bulger back as Rams' starting quarterback after one-week benching
Bulger got his job back Tuesday, the biggest development of new coach Jim Haslett's first full day in charge of the winless team.
The highest-paid player in franchise history, who ran the scout-team offense last week, also broke his silence.
But he exercised care, declining several opportunities to torch his former coach. Linehan was fired on Monday after four straight lopsided losses to start the season and was 11-25 overall in two-plus seasons.
Bulger wouldn't say whether he approved of the change and chuckled before replying, "I'm smarter than that one."
He added, "It wasn't a happy day by any stretch of the imagination."
Backup Trent Green started Sunday's 31-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Linehan's final game as coach. Bulger was back with the starters in practice Tuesday, and Haslett said he'll be the starter the rest of the season.
The Rams have a bye week before playing at Washington on Oct. 12.
"I talked to Marc and Trent about it and it's more a gut feeling on my part," Haslett said. "I thought Marc would give us the best opportunity to win games the next three months."
Haslett added that Bulger knew what was expected. The two-time Pro Bowler has completed 58 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"Obviously, Scott was accountable and now it's the players' turn to step up," Haslett said. "Marc understands that and he understands I have full confidence he's going to go out there and do the job."
Bulger, who's in the second year of a six-year, $65 million contract, denied a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week that he no longer wanted to play for Linehan. He said addressing that issue and the benching during the buildup to Sunday's game might have distracted the Rams (0-4).
The quarterback said he made sure Linehan knew it, telling the coach in his office and showing him a good attitude in practice.
"That's not who I am, and I think Coach Linehan knew that I'd be ready," Bulger said. "I told him, 'First quarter, halftime, third quarter.' I practiced hard, I took all the reps on the scout team, and that wasn't going to ever be an issue."
Bulger was appreciative that running back Steven Jackson came to his defense and criticized Linehan's move on his weekly radio show.
"He's a good friend. You guys have friends and you're going to stand up for people," Bulger told reporters. "I'm glad he stood up for me, but at the same time I'm sure he didn't want all the attention that came from it."
The player-coach relationship, Bulger said, was a lot like any other.
"When you're not winning, there's always going to be strains," he said. "Honestly, it was fine up to the point where he left and it'll still be fine. I think he handled himself professionally and I think I did the same, and I think we left on good terms."
Bulger will be losing one of his targets, tight end Randy McMichael, for perhaps the rest of the year. McMichael broke his tibia Sunday and Haslett said he'll be out at least eight weeks.
The Rams are considering placing McMichael, who has 11 receptions and a 12.6-yard average, on injured reserve.
Cornerback Tye Hill underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage damage to his right knee and will be sidelined three to four games. The Rams are negotiating with cornerback Fakhir Brown, released last week by Linehan.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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