Rams quarterback Bulger optimistic after injuries

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Rams quarterback Marc Bulger is sacked by Jets cornerback Donald Strickland during the second quarter of a preseason game Friday at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (Bill Kostroun ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- Marc Bulger survived three sacks in the preseason opener. Then a simple snap exchange resulted in a pinkie injury that will keep him out for two weeks -- and perhaps open the door for backup Kyle Boller.

Bulger injured the finger on his passing hand taking a snap from Jason Brown in the Monday morning practice at Rams Park. X-rays revealed a small fracture in the finger. He has his fourth and pinkie fingers taped together.

He stood on the sidelines Tuesday and watched the workout.

"It's not that painful of an injury. It's one of those unfortunate things," Bulger said. "There's no major damage. It's just a chipped bone.

"Any other guy would probably be out there but quarterbacks."

Bulger's bad break presents an opportunity for Boller and the other backups, said Rams rookie coach Steve Spagnuolo.

"There's a silver lining to it. We don't want to see anybody get hurt, but we get to find out about some of the other guys," Spagnuolo said.

Boller, who joined the Rams in April as a free agent after seven seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, moves into Bulger's starting spot for Friday's home preseason game against the Falcons, as well as working with the first string in practice.

"Hopefully we can go out and not miss a beat," Boller said. "You can't be nervous. That's part of the deal being a backup. You just have to be prepared and be ready to jump in there no matter the situation."

Third-stringer Brock Berlin, who sustained a mild sprain of a knee ligament during the preseason opener against the Jets, wore a brace and returned to practice.

"I think that showed us all something, that he has some toughness," Spagnuolo said. "You want that in a quarterback. Brock is a very, I would say efficient, quarterback."

Rookie Keith Null also got some extra snaps in the workout.

Missing practice time is the biggest concern for Bulger.

"I want to be out there," Bulger said, "but we've got everything installed with the offense. You never want to miss any training camp time with the guys. But we're not going to sit here and play the what-if game. The guys are going to move on without me."

The 28-year-old Boller has significant NFL experience. A 2003 first-round pick who missed all last season with a shoulder injury, Boller started 42 games for the Ravens. He has 7,846 yards passing with 45 touchdowns and 44 interceptions.

His best year was 2004 when he started all 16 games and amassed 2,559 yards with 13 touchdowns against 11 interceptions.

Boller said he is not nervous about stepping up to play.

"It's not my first rodeo," he said. "I've been a starter. I've been out there before. I'm not going to overplay. I'm not going to underplay. I'm just going to go out there and be myself."

Spagnuolo said he is not concerned.

"There's a certain comfort level there," he said about having Boller start. "He's an aggressive guy. I'm sure we'll see that in this next game."

The Rams have two preseason games, at Cincinnati and at home against Kansas City, before opening the regular season Sept. 13 at Seattle. That's the date Bulger has circled.

"It's my job to be ready whenever I can come back," Bulger said. "I'll try not to miss a beat. No. 1 on my list is Seattle. It's just going to be a pain thing."

Bulger has had finger injuries before, including his thumb and index finger.

"Each time I've hurt a finger, you don't think they're important until you lose one," Bulger said. "Of all the fingers, if I had to pick one, I'd probably say take my pinkie if they cut one off."

He said he has missed a call from former teammate and current Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, who has battled finger and hand problems in the past.


* LT Alex Barron did not practice. Spagnuolo said Barron has swelling in his knees and was scheduled to have an MRI exam.

* Adam Goldberg moved to left tackle in place of Barron and rookie Jason Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, played right tackle.

... WR Donnie Avery watched practice and was not wearing his protective boot. He broke his foot in the Aug. 7 scrimmage. The injury is likely to cause him to be out for six weeks. ... It was the final day of two-a-day workouts for the Rams

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