Rams' Pace out 2-4 weeks; Jackson to miss Bears game
ST. LOUIS -- After an inspiring start under new coach Jim Haslett, the St. Louis Rams are back to rock bottom. They're running out of bodies, too.
Offensive tackle Orlando Pace will be sidelined two to four weeks with a knee injury sustained in a 35-16 loss at San Francisco that was not nearly as close as the score indicated. Offensive guard Richie Incognito was scheduled for an MRI exam for a strained rotator cuff. And running back Steven Jackson was already counted out for this week's game against the Chicago Bears after a second opinion agreed with the Rams' diagnosis of a strained thigh.
One position that won't change: quarterback. Haslett decided to stick with Marc Bulger after consulting with staff and reviewing game tape.
Bulger was 33-for-54 for 295 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, both on throws into tight coverage, against the 49ers on Sunday. He also lost a fumble on a botched snap.
"I think we have to do what we feel is best for the organization," Haslett said. "If you have somebody that steps in, is he going to step in for the whole time? Or if he goes bad, are you going to replace him and put Marc back in?
"Just talking to all the offensive coaches, they felt that Marc right now still gives us our best chance to win," Haslett said.
Since injuring his thigh on Oct. 14, Jackson had never been ruled out this early for an upcoming game. He didn't even make the trip to San Francisco.
"He has a strain with a little bit of blood in it and it's going to take some time to heal," Haslett said. "He thought that he should take some time off also and let it heal and rest."
Pace went to seven straight Pro Bowls from 1999 to 2005, but the last three seasons he's played in only 18 games. Haslett said Pace might be placed on injured reserve, though he wanted to discuss the situation first with the veteran tackle.
Pace was hurt in the first half when 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes' leg whipped into his knee. The Rams already have eight players on IR.
It's a dismal picture for the Rams (2-8), who have been outscored 75-3 in the first half the last two weeks. San Francisco, which entered Sunday's game with a six-game losing streak, had a 35-3 cushion at the break.
"It's definitely disappointing when it's a team that you feel you should beat," cornerback Ron Bartell said. "You can't let the game get away from you in the second quarter."
There was a smattering of good news. Bartell injured his left knee and the Rams initially thought he might be lost for the season, but an MRI exam showed only a soft tissue injury.
Antonio Pittman had 95 yards on 14 carries in place of Jackson and will start again against the Bears. The Rams totaled 126 yards rushing with a 5.5-yard average.
"I thought he did fine," Haslett said. "It was a shame we got behind and we couldn't keep running it."
The potential replacement for Incognito, rookie John Greco, injured his knee in practice last week but is expected to be a full participant this week.
The biggest problem on defense has been poor tackling. Haslett detected a lack of will during the 49ers' 28-point second quarter.
"Nobody could get anybody down," Haslett said. "I can't go out and tackle for them, so we can try to put them in the best position we can."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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