Faulk uses mind, legs to help Rams

Thursday, December 4, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- The wide receiver option pass dreamed up by Marshall Faulk last week was no novelty. Most every week, coach Mike Martz said he gets a couple of play suggestions from his star running back.

"It's hard for me because I'm trying to watch practice and focus, but he always has ideas and I use probably half of them because they're always well thought-out," Martz said. "He's done his homework; he looks at it real hard, and he knows."

Faulk has long had a reputation as a thinking man's player. Martz leans on him for input, treating him like another coach. The two often chat during practice, and it's not about the weather.

"I watch too much film, that's my problem," Faulk said. "I come up with all kinds of stupid stuff."

Faulk had his third straight 100-yard rushing game in last week's 48-17 blowout over the Vikings, scoring three touchdowns to move past Hall of Famers Walter Payton and Jim Brown into fifth place on the career list.

Since relocating to St. Louis in 1995, the Rams are 29-0 when they have a 100-yard rusher. Twenty-two of those games have come from Faulk in the last five years, and he seems to have his burst back after missing five games earlier in the year with a broken left hand and injured right knee.

"I know a lot of people have written him off: he's too heavy, too slow, too old," Martz said. "He's not done. He's got a lot of mileage left, trust me when I tell you that."

Faulk's other big contribution was Isaac Bruce's 41-yard pass to Dane Looker to the 5 in the third quarter, which set up one of his touchdown runs on the next play. Faulk acted as triggerman, taking a handoff from Marc Bulger, before giving the ball to Bruce. Looker was wide open, just as Faulk had envisioned.

"You see things, and it's just a credit to him as a coach when a player comes to him and says 'Hey, take a look at this here,"' Faulk said. "We worked on it a couple of days and then we put it in, and we called it and it worked."

Faulk got a good view of his handiwork from the backfield.

"I'm always the decoy when I draw up plays," he said. "Isn't that funny?"

Martz tweaked the play just a bit. Torry Holt had been Faulk's choice to throw the ball, but the coach wanted Bruce, who's 2-for-2 this year.

"Mike switched it around," Faulk said. He joked, "I guess Torry failed at throwing the ball once or twice, so he's out."

Most of Faulk's plays aren't trick plays. That's Martz' forte. More often, Faulk will notice little things like blocking assignments or pass routes that are getting double-teamed, which would free another receiver.

"When he comes off the field he can tell me exactly how they're accounting for him in the passing game, particularly on third down," Martz said. "Some of those things you can't quite see from the sideline or the box."Noteworthy

n The Rams have signed DL-LB Erik Flowers, a former first-round pick in 2000 who was released by the Texans earlier this season, and plan to use him as a DE. The team also re-signed WR Michael Coleman and DE Nick Burley to the practice squad. Burley was released last week and Coleman was released Nov. 7. The Rams have shuffled the bottom of the roster incessantly because the payroll is so close to the salary cap.

  • Earlier this week the Rams released DT Jeremy Staat and CB James Whitley. Staat was with the team for a month during a rash of injuries on the defensive line and appeared in three games. Whitley was slow to recover from offseason foot surgery, appearing in three games in October, but the release coincides with the return to health of several secondary members and the emergence of CB Fred Weary. "There's other areas where we're going to need some help," Martz said.

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