Up next: First look at St. Louis

Proving that whatever can go wrong will go wrong, the Rams received another dose of bad news this week when second-year defensive tackle Claude Wroten was suspended four games for violating the league policy on drugs of abuse and alcohol. That news came one day after the Rams learned left tackle Orlando Pace was lost for the season after suffering a torn labrum and rotator cuff against Carolina.

The Rams received some criticism for selecting Wroten in the third round of the 2006 draft after he had been arrested in January of that year for possession of marijuana and then tested positive at the scouting combine. However, Rams officials said they had done extensive background checks on Wroten and came away confident in their pick. Since it takes three strikes to be suspended, the latest positive result had to be the second since Wroten was drafted.

Said coach Scott Linehan, "Claude's not a starter, but he's a guy who factors into what we're trying to do on defense. The rules are the rules. I don't even know really what (the substance) is, but regardless, we're in full support of our league's policy on this. The guys have got to know that there's going to be consequences. That's about as much as I can really say about it."

The Rams made no immediate moves to replace Wroten, who was getting increased playing time along with La'Roi Glover at the three-technique position. However, against Carolina, there were some alignments where rookie Adam Carriker was at the three-technique and rookie Clifton Ryan played nose tackle. It's possible the Rams could go with only three defensive tackles on the roster for the four games Wroten will miss, and also use end Victor Adeyanju inside if necessary.

The Wroten news was just one item from a busy day at the team's facility. Fullback Madison Hedgecock was placed on waivers, and signed was former Vikings tight end/fullback Richard Owens. The Rams also added tackle Brandon Gorin as depth behind Alex Barron and Adam Goldberg.

PLAYER NOTES
--- QB Marc Bulger has to be glad he doesn't have to worry about Carolina anymore. Three of Bulger's worst games have come against the Panthers, including Sunday's 167-yard day and 70.2 passer rating.
--- RB Steven Jackson fumbled four times the entire 2006 season and lost two. Sunday against Carolina, Jackson lost fumbles on successive plays in the third quarter.
--- WR Torry Holt isn't 100 percent recovered from off-season knee surgery, and while productive, the question is whether he can be a deep threat in the team's offense.
--- WR Isaac Bruce remains a starter, although he had only three receptions for 20 yards against the Panthers.
--- TE Randy McMichael was named the team's offensive player of the week more for his blocking than receiving.
--- FB Madison Hedgecock was released Tuesday, leaving the Rams with no true fullbacks on their roster.
--- TE Richard Owens was signed by the Rams on Tuesday, and he will likely play a combination fullback/tight end role.
--- RG Richie Incognito aggravated his ankle injury last week in practice, and likely pushed his return back by a couple more weeks.


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