ST. LOUIS -- For Don Davis, there's a silver lining to wearing a cast.
After a month on the sideline with a dislocated right wrist, the St. Louis Rams' linebacker otherwise feels 100 percent heading into Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. That's more than most of his teammates can say.
"The rest of my body is totally healthy," Davis said. "I'm what we call fresh legs out there. I hope to be the first one to the ball."
Davis' return brings the Rams' defense a step closer to returning to total health. He was one of five front-line players to not start last week's 35-6 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Although tackle Damione Lewis (broken foot) is out for the season, safeties Kim Herring (hip pointer) and Adam Archuleta (ankle) also could return to the lineup this week and end Leonard Little (knee) is aiming for next week.
The Rams (9-2) will take a cautious approach with Davis for now, using him as a reserve behind impressive rookie Tommy Polley and on special teams. The original estimate when he was injured was 4-6 weeks, and pins were taken out of the wrist only last Tuesday.
Plus, the Rams held the Falcons without a touchdown last week. So there's good reason for keeping the status quo in the battle for the NFC West lead against the 49ers (9-2).
"We're going to go with the three that we started last week, and whatever Don can do we'll fill him in," coach Mike Martz said. "He's not ready to step in there and take on the full role yet, I just don't know how his wrist is going to hold up."
Davis resumed practicing last week, and he doesn't expect the cast to hinder him much. He should be able to wrap up ballcarriers on tackles because his fingers are free.
"It's just going to be something that's there, but I think I've sat out so long I honestly don't think I'll even feel it," Davis said. "I just hope to get out there and play my butt off, and just continue from there."
Davis, who was the Rams' first free-agent signing in their defense rebuilding effort in the offseason, doesn't mind not starting for now. He'll definitely have a major role on special teams, which have been struggling with fill-ins, playing on the kickoff and punt teams.
"We had some guys who were just a little out of position," Davis said. "We've got guys now in their right positions and I think we're going to do real well."
NOTES: Offensive tackle Rod Jones was only in his third play as a reserve when he was ejected following a scuffle in the fourth quarter of last week's game against the Falcons. "I think I might be in the record books for that," Jones joked. "I tried to get lathered up and they just wouldn't let me." ... Even brand new Rams players are aware of the significance of the rivalry with the 49ers. "It sticks to you like Velcro," said defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson, who joined the Rams after playing for Tampa Bay. "The Packers and the Vikings were big in Tampa, but there's something a little different about this one. This is like our version of Redskins-Cowboys." ... The Rams need one victory for three straight 10-win seasons for the first time since 1984-86. ... Wide receiver Isaac Bruce is 111 yards shy of his fifth career 1,000-yard season. ... Cornerback Aeneas Williams will be making his 169th consecutive start. Williams missed part of Sunday's game with a neck injury but isn't even listed on this week's injury report. ... Over his last four games, 49ers running back Garrison Hearst is averaging 6.5 yards per carry.