ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Coach Mike Martz suggested for the first time Wednesday that if Marc Bulger continues to play as well as he has, he could compete with Kurt Warner next season for St. Louis Rams' quarterback job.
Bulger has a 106.0 passer rating, which would lead the NFL if he had enough attempts, and is 5-0 as a starter this year -- the Rams' only victories. The third-stringer when the season began, he returns to the lineup on Sunday night against Arizona after recovering from a sprained right index finger.
Bulger has 12 touchdown passes and four interceptions. Martz said if he picks up where he left off, it will affect the team's quarterback situation next year.
"Oh, absolutely," Martz said. "If Marc continues to grow and get better with the success he's had, you can't ignore that kind of success, and we certainly would not.
"And then it's a healthy situation, I think."
Martz said he was anxious to see what Bulger could do in his second start against the Cardinals. He threw two touchdown passes in a 27-14 victory at Arizona Nov. 3.
"There's some things he can do that most quarterbacks just can't do physically," Martz said. "His personality is fun to have back in the huddle.
"He's genuinely one of the nicest people you'd meet and the players have really taken to him and accepted him."
Bulger wasn't thinking of his latest shot at starting as an audition for next season.
"I think I've proven I can play in this league," Bulger said. "I expect to play as well as I was playing."
Warner, a two-time MVP, missed five games earlier in the season with a broken pinkie and will miss his second game with a broken bone in his hand on Sunday. He's had several hand injuries the last few years.
"I'm concerned about Kurt," Martz said. "We need to look at Kurt's hand and make sure in the offseason, and get him back to where he was."
Bulger was effective throwing the ball in practice Wednesday. He had impressed the Rams during pre-game warmups last Sunday at Kansas City.
Martz said the Rams went an extra week with Bulger to make certain the finger was not a factor the rest of the season.
"The longer it goes, the better it has a chance to heal," Martz said. "We've kind of taken the extra mile to make sure he's ready to play."
But Bulger said he's had to alter his grip somewhat. This week in practice he said he'd work on not letting that slow down his release time.
"Whatever it takes," Bulger said. "I threw the other day and the ball's coming out pretty well. It wasn't fluttering or doing anything crazy."
Jamie Martin, who struggled as the backup against the Chiefs, will be the backup this week with rookie Scott Covington No. 3. Warner's status for the rest of the season remains unclear.
"I would love to play again this year," Warner said. "It's not important for me to take that risk and force it to get back in and play.
"I'm going to leave that in their hands and let them tell me what they think is best."