11-29-2007 3:03 PM
By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (Associated Press) -- A concussion will keep St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger out of Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. It's just the latest in a series of setbacks for the injury-riddled team.
Bulger, who had been optimistic earlier in the week he'd be back, was ruled out after failing medical tests. Bulger left in the first quarter of last week's loss to the Seahawks after absorbing a blindside sack by Leroy Hill, although he stayed in the game for four more plays before throwing an interception on a shovel pass.
The Rams (2-9) have held him out of practice the last two days and elevated quarterback Brock Berlin from the practice squad to the active roster on Wednesday, anticipating Bulger would be out this week.
Coach Scott Linehan said Bulger was still experiencing symptoms from the concussion, so the test failure did not come as a surprise.
"It's just not clear when he'll be ready," Linehan said. "A week's just too soon. Nothing too dramatic, but enough to where it's probably not wise to consider playing him."
The Rams (2-9) could have five substitutes starting this week, with wide receiver/kick returner Dante Hall, defensive end James Hall, cornerback Fakhir Brown and center Brett Romberg all missing practice Thursday. Both Halls and Romberg have ankle injuries and Brown hurt his tailbone.
Bulger said Monday he felt much better and expected to play against the Falcons, but backup Gus Frerotte said Wednesday that Bulger looked groggy. Frerotte fumbled away a chance at a victory last week when he bobbled the center snap on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and said Wednesday it's been difficult rebounding from that setback.
Frerotte had a concussion in 2005 when he was with the Miami Dolphins and Linehan was that team's offensive coordinator.
"It's not fun," Frerotte said. "You get hazy and you're groggy for a few days and it takes you a while to get back because you don't want to go out there and not know what's going on."
Earlier in the week, Frerotte said it was important to be sure everything's fine before returning.
"I've had friends who've come back quick and I've had friends who've taken a long time," Frerotte said. "It depends on how bad the hit was and how bad your brain was bruised."
Offensive guard Todd Steussie had not heard Bulger was ruled out, but was not surprised.
"I think this team is plenty used to the next guy in line stepping up," Steussie said. "I've known Gus for a while and seen him for even longer, and he'll do great."
Bulger, who signed a six-year, $65 million contract extension on the first day of training camp, missed two games earlier this year with broken ribs after playing ineffectively for two games with the injury. It's believed this is Bulger's first concussion of any severity.
Brown injured his tailbone in a hard landing against the Seahawks and was unable to get loose enough to practice Thursday. Linehan is hopeful Brown will be ready by the game.
Romberg reinjured a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for three games last week and had considerable soreness and pain. An MRI showed a healing injury that included a bone bruise.
"My ankle is still pretty beat-up," Romberg said. "I got it caught on a defensive lineman's foot as I was running and kind of tweaked it. I felt it, that's for sure."
Backup Andy McCollum took the majority of the repetitions at center Thursday after being held out of practice Wednesday because of a sore knee.
Dante Hall reinjured a high ankle sprain on a return against the Seahawks and James Hall also has a nagging ankle injury.
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