A healthy MVP

Saturday, September 8, 2001

ST. LOUIS -- The pampered preseason is over for Marshall Faulk.

The NFL's MVP, mostly a no-show in the games that don't count, will resume carrying a heavy load for the St. Louis Rams in the opener Sunday at Philadelphia. Faulk, who has undergone surgery twice on his right knee since November, was held out of three preseason games and totaled 27 yards on 11 carries in the two games he did play.

It was just a precaution. Coach Mike Martz didn't see any sense in risking re-injury.

"We didn't want to expose him," Martz said. "He's fine. The knee's fine. There's no concerns about it at all.

"There wasn't anything to be gained by playing him in more preseason games than we did."

Faulk appears to have no concerns, either.

"People are going to talk about it throughout the whole year, how it holds up and how things go," Faulk said. "I'm just going to go out and play."

Last year, Faulk set an NFL record with 26 touchdowns and became the first player in league history to score four touchdowns in a game three times in a season. He joined Jim Brown as the only players to gain 2,000 yards rushing and receiving in three straight seasons, repeating as NFL offensive player of the year.

He said he's set no goals for this year aside from being on another championship team like the Rams' Super Bowl team of two years ago.

"You don't worry about personal things and all the stuff that people expect you to do," Faulk said. "It's about winning ballgames, and that's all I care about.

"If the numbers are there and we win, fine. If they're not and we're winning, fine."

A Canidate for playing time

Faulk's numbers might not be so gaudy this year, because he should get more help from Trung Canidate. Canidate, the team's first-round draft pick last year, missed almost all of the season with various injuries.

Martz also could use both players in the backfield at the same time.

"I think we've asked Trung to really do everything that Marshall does," Martz said. "Obviously he can't do all those things as well, but the things he can do well that shocks me is he has such great run vision."

Canidate believes he's a much better player, even though his rookie season was a wash.

"That first year, I can tell you, is a big jump even though I didn't play much," Canidate said. "I'm looking forward to proving my credibility."

In any case Faulk said he won't be resting on his laurels, especially after the Rams' barely made the playoffs and then lost in the first round to the Saints.

"I'm just charged up," Faulk said. "I put last year behind me."

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