He can't handle many more games like he had against SF (6 sacks) - apparently they're juggling the line this week (new RT)
Rams seek to keep heat off Bulger
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
When Rams quarterback Marc Bulger gets hit, "it takes a toll on us," offensive tackle Alex Barron said.
Just imagine how Bulger feels.
In the season opener against Carolina, Bulger absorbed a couple of crunching hits and suffered a rib injury. In Week 2 against San Francisco, the frequency of the hits increased, and the ribs began barking again.
Bulger was sacked six times by the 49ers, just one off his career high. He was hit on seven other occasions by pass rushers. That's 13 hits, and few were glancing blows.
Bulger normally doesn't make a big deal of getting hit or playing in pain. His stock answer is that everyone on an NFL roster deals with pain in a season. But Bulger was hit so often and so hard against the 49ers, one has to wonder if he can make it through 16 games at this rate. Bulger had his ribs X-rayed after the San Francisco game, but said that's nothing new.
"I got my ribs X-rayed a bunch last year, and I think two or three times they weren't broken, and you feel kind of like 'OK,'" Bulger said. "But then I'd get an MRI, and it showed a little something."
According to Bulger, team medical officials have told him there's not much of a difference between bruised ribs and broken ribs in terms of discomfort. As a result, he's taking the ostrich approach when it comes to test results. What he doesn't know won't hurt him — at least any more than it already does.
"It's not going to change anything, so I said, 'Don't even let me know,'" Bulger said. "The treatment won't change. My status for the game won't change. I'm going to play ... so I'm not worried about it."
But the first few days of this week were tough. Except for Sunday night, when he "had a little help," Bulger didn't sleep very well earlier in the week. Besides the usual treatment, Bulger is trying acupuncture this year — he had a session scheduled Thursday at the end of the work day.
The idea, Bulger said, is to "just do whatever you can to feel somewhat normal. The good thing about playing football is that once that games start on Sunday and you get the adrenaline going, all the pain seems to go away for (a few) hours at least."
But a couple of more Sundays like the one against San Francisco, and the pain may not go away at all, and Gus Frerotte might be at quarterback. So one of the primary goals entering Sunday's contest at Tampa Bay is reducing the number of hits on Bulger.
"Marc, he's not as big as me," said offensive guard Claude Terrell, who's listed at 330 pounds. "He can't take too many hits like this. We've got to do everything we can to keep him upright and keep him clean."
Tampa Bay doesn't have the kind of pass-rushing firepower it had back in the days of Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice. But with the Rams expected to employ yet another new offensive line combination — with Adam Goldberg at right tackle — the Buccaneers will do everything they can to get after Bulger. That's particularly true after seeing the success San Francisco had with blitzes.
"It's a copycat league," Bulger said. "They're going to come at us probably with a lot of the similar blitzes, and do their own things, too. When you give up sacks like that, or turn the ball over a certain way, that's what they're going to attack. So I expect them to be bringing it."
With the Rams' coaching staff opening up the playbook against the 49ers, the St. Louis receiver corps strutted its stuff. Even though San Francisco started a veteran pair of Pro Bowl cornerbacks in Nate Clements and Walt Harris, Rams receivers were running free. Trouble was, Bulger didn't always have time to get the ball to those open targets. As it was, Bulger still threw for 368 yards, the eighth most productive performance of his career. With a little more time, he could've thrown for 450.
"You keep Marc Bulger clean, he'll pick any defense apart," Goldberg said.
Easier said than done.