<
>

Preseason loss proves costly for Bears

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Rex Grossman had that familiar, sinking
feeling.

The Chicago Bears lost their second preseason game 17-13 to the
St. Louis Rams -- but more importantly, they lost their starting
quarterback for three to four months when the former Florida star
broke his left ankle Friday night.

"I knew right away and I was kind of in denial to start with,"
Grossman said. "I tried to walk it off but I heard a pop."

Rams backup quarterback Jamie Martin threw two touchdown passes
in St. Louis' preseason opener. Starter Marc Bulger went 3-for-5
for 38 yards and an interception in the first quarter.

Adrian Peterson had a 9-yard touchdown run for the Bears (1-1),
playing their second game in five days; their first was a 27-24 win
over Miami in the Hall of Fame game.

Grossman, the Bears' first-round pick in 2003, was hurt with
11:08 to go in the first half on a 4-yard completion to Darnell
Sanders after being flushed out of the pocket by Jeremy Loyd and
Trev Faulk, who spun Grossman around and dumped him.

Grossman got back to his feet but began limping and signaled for
a trainer. He then sat down and grabbed his left knee in pain,
slamming his helmet on the cart before being taken off the field.

"I got caught in one those situations where someone kind of
twisted me and sat on my leg and you know, what are you going to
do?" Grossman said. "I'm disappointed obviously, but there's
nothing you can do. It doesn't help me to dwell on it."

The Bears used four quarterbacks last year and have used at
least three in six of seven seasons. General manager Jerry Angelo
said the team will get through this crisis and won't go shopping
for a veteran.

"We're going with the hand that we dealt ourselves," Angelo
said. "We said that going in and we're comfortable with it. It's
unfortunate; Rex will be missed."

Bears coach Lovie Smith was the defensive coordinator for the
Rams for three seasons from 2001-04, and St. Louis coach Mike Martz
took the news pretty hard himself.

"I'm just heartsick about Rex Grossman," Martz said. "That's
a coach's nightmare, that's a team's nightmare. To have this happen
is devastating."

Grossman was 6-for-11 for 52 yards before leaving the game when
it was still scoreless. Backup Chad Hutchinson produced Chicago's
only first-half score, finishing the drive on which Grossman was
injured.

Bears linebacker Joe Odum also left in the second quarter with a
concussion sustained in a helmet-to-helmet tackle.

The first-round picks for both teams missed the game. Bears
running back Cedric Benson remained a holdout and Rams offensive
tackle Alex Barron didn't arrive in camp until game day after
agreeing to a five-year contract two days earlier.

Grossman had been largely stifled by the Rams' rebuilt defense
featuring new linebackers Chris Claiborne and Dexter Coakley. The
Bears were held to one first down in their first three drives and
had only one touchdown.

Rams rookie Oshiomogho Atogwe intercepted Kurt Kittner's pass
from midfield in the end zone on the game's final play. It was the
third takeaway by a unit that created only one turnover last year
in the preseason.

The Rams won despite using only one starter on the offensive
line, center Andy McCollum. Fourth-round pick Claude Terrell moved
to first string right guard early in camp and Matt Willig, who has
been with the team for only three days, started at right tackle.

Left tackle Orlando Pace (back) and left guard Adam Timmerman,
recovering from shoulder and foot injuries from last season, did
not play.

"We're still kind of a taped-together group on the offensive
line," Martz said. "That'll change in the next week. We're going
to get some guys back."

Martin, the Rams' 36-year-old backup, threw a 7-yard pass to
Kevin Curtis with 1:23 to go in the half to tie it. He put the Rams
ahead for good 14-7 with a 5-yard pass to Shaun McDonald with 10:07
left in the third.

"He's as accurate as Kurt (Warner), Marc (Bulger), Trent
(Green)," Martz said. "I've always been high on Jamie. I just
felt with the right preparation he'd be a very good player."

Steven Jackson, named the Rams starting running back ahead of
Marshall Faulk in the offseason, had 47 yards on seven carries in
the first quarter behind the patchwork line. Jackson broke a
33-yard gain on his second carry.

"Confidence is something I've never lacked," Jackson said.
"Right now I'm on Cloud 9. I had a great performance."

Without him, and with backups going the rest of the way, the
Rams finished with 78 yards rushing.