Don't rule Faulk out just yet

Thursday, November 14, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams aren't counting Marshall Faulk out, yet.

The running back left Sunday's victory over the Chargers with a sprained left ankle and strained tendon in his right foot, and was on crutches the next day. But he was feeling much better on Wednesday.

"Nobody heals like he does," coach Mike Martz said. "I wouldn't rule him out. This will be something we'll take to the very end."

Martz said Faulk, listed as questionable, probably wouldn't practice at least until Saturday in preparation for Monday night's game against the Bears.

"We'll be pessimistic at this point and say he won't be ready," Martz said. "If he is ready, it'll be a surprise, and that's how we'll prepare. He's improved quite a bit, so we'll see."

The Rams did not practice Wednesday aside from some running, weightlifting and a team meeting that included a highlight film from the Chargers victory. When they practice for the first time this game week today, rookie Lamar Gordon will be the starting tailback ahead of Trung Canidate, a first-round pick in 2000.

Martz said both backups would play if Faulk couldn't go.

Teammates expected Faulk out there on Monday, however.

"I wouldn't bet against it, that's for sure," wide receiver Ricky Proehl said. "He's unreal and he plays hurt more than anybody I've ever played with."

Faulk, the MVP in 2000 and the NFL's offensive player of the year the last three seasons, is third in the league with 1,242 total yards this year behind Priest Holmes of the Chiefs (1,353) and LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers (1,253). He was held to 72 total yards, 36 rushing and 36 passing, last week by San Diego.

Bears coach Dick Jauron said he'd believe Faulk wasn't playing when he saw it.

"Obviously, we'll anticipate Marshall will play against us," Jauron said.

Warner says right things

Kurt Warner's not happy sitting one more week because of a broken pinkie, but he's adamant that the St. Louis Rams don't have a quarterback controversy.

The two-time NFL MVP, realizing he has nothing to gain, has been careful to say all the right things this week. Although he wants to play, he won't fan the fire that's been building in town with every victory that Marc Bulger, the former third-stringer, has helped produce.

This is how crazy it's gotten: Several fans erroneously thought they saw Bulger shoving Warner at the end of Sunday's 28-24 come-from-behind victory over the Chargers, flooding call-in shows and Internet sites with rumors of the rift. Instead it was former Rams backup Paul Justin giving the injured star a playful push, as if to say it was his turn to offer congratulations, after Warner had embraced Bulger.

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