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With opener near, Bulger is back in the background
ST. LOUIS -- Suddenly, Marc Bulger is back to carrying a clipboard and wearing a baseball cap instead of leading the St. Louis Rams' offense.
The lion's share of the playing time in the preseason went to the third-string quarterback, with Kurt Warner getting saved for the regular season and backup Jamie Martin out much of the time with an injured collarbone. He threw nearly twice as many passes as Warner, 85-46, in the games that don't count, with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
But now the games do count and Martin is healthy.
"Jamie's fine," coach Mike Martz said. "There's no ifs about Jamie being ready."
So barring disaster, Bulger will be in the deep background from now on.
"That's the NFL," Bulger said with a shrug. "I know my role. Things have already changed and I understand it."
Martz said Bulger, a sixth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2000 draft, made great strides in his second training camp with the Rams.
"He got thrown into the hopper and I was very pleased with his accuracy," Martz said. "We put him in some real difficult situations to see how he'd respond and he progressed a great deal."
Martz said Bulger now thinks like a starter instead of a guy just hanging on.
"When you're the third quarterback, life has a tendency to be real good," Martz said. "You never have to worry about playing, you pick up a paycheck, and lah de dah de dah.
"But Marc understands he has a future in this league and he's just trying to prepare himself to play."
Martz did his best by riding Bulger mercilessly in the preseason. After one interception he harranged his quarterback, walked away, then came back again and again for more.
Martz also liked to call plays that Bulger hadn't run in practice, just to see how he'd react.
"He just keeps the pressure on all the time," Bulger said. "He compliments me, too, although people don't like to talk about that. I know what he's trying to get out of me."