Rams' four missing stars return to practice

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- The stars were back when the St. Louis Rams returned to the practice field Monday, giving the resurgent team a little more momentum after their bye week.

The Rams took steps toward saving their season without quarterback Marc Bulger, wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, and defensive end Leonard Little, winning two straight to bring the record to 4-4 heading into this week's game at Seattle. Now, their best players can help them keep building.

"Anytime you get Marc, Torry and Isaac back, that's an all-star roster in itself," rookie offensive guard Claude Terrell said. "You've been pretty good without those guys, and hopefully that just makes it even better."

The Rams' season still is teetering on the brink heading into the game against the NFC West-leading Seahawks (6-2). As interim coach Joe Vitt said last week, victories over the Saints and Jaguars only put the team in position to get into position.

"It's a big week for us, so it's good for everybody to get healthy and get their rest and get ready for a big game," safety Mike Furrey said. "We've set ourselves up nice, but this is going to be our big season breaker.

"If we can go up there and win we'll be all right."

Bulger, who missed two games and part of a third with a shoulder injury, is expected to have no restrictions the rest of the week after demonstrating his health Monday.

"I thought he threw the ball well today, and he's excited," Vitt said. "So he'll be ready to go full slate on Wednesday."

Vitt was more circumspect about both Holt, who has missed two games with strained knee ligaments, and Bruce, out five games already with turf toe. Neither player was made available to the media after practice.

"It's going to be an ongoing process, and we're just going to wait and see how it goes," Vitt said.

The defense definitely will be getting some help with the return of their best pass rusher. Little has missed the last two games while mourning the shooting death of his younger brother, Jermaine.

Vitt said mentally, Little was "great." The coach knows the impact Little can make on the field.

"The guy's a playmaker," Vitt said. "He presents a problem for anybody's pass protection, they have to account for him every time and he's great in pursuing the run, so it's huge."

The Rams also expect to get cornerback Travis Fisher (groin), kick returner Chris Johnson (back) and Terrell (neck) back for the game against the Seahawks, although Terrell was reserving judgment until testing his injury with some contact.

"I can still feel it a little bit, but I can't actually really gauge anything until I'm in live collisions," Terrell said. "Then I'll be able to tell if it's ready to go or not. Only time will tell."

Running back Marshall Faulk was an excused absence with an appointment Vitt said he had cleared in August. Rookie offensive tackle Alex Barron, the team's first-round pick, showed up more than halfway into the workout after missing a flight back from Florida.

"He'll be dealt with," Vitt said. "He's supposed to be here."

Barron said his return flight to St. Louis was canceled and he was stranded for several hours in Atlanta.

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