Behind enemy lines: St. Louis

Kyle Boller will be the Rams' starting quarterback for Sunday's game in San Francisco.

Marc Bulger, who injured his shoulder in Sunday's loss to Green Bay, did not practice Wednesday and has not thrown since the injury. Bulger will be the Rams' No. 3 emergency QB on Sunday.

Bulger said his shoulder hasn't gotten worse, "which is good," but also admitted it wasn't noticeably better. Mobility with his arm, and having the ability to make throws, will be the issue more so than pain since he said, "I've played frequently with pain."

Boller, who went to school at the University of California, is relishing the chance to start Sunday, even though it's not yet official. He also is glad to be taking snaps with the first unit, which is something he didn't do last week, before being called on to play when Bulger was hurt at the end of the first quarter.

Asked about being comfortable running the offense, he said, "With me, when you don't take very many reps in practice, I could sit there and say that a certain play I have a five-step drop and actually going out there and not having taken a rep of it, I might take an extra two by accident. It is those little things, the details of fine-tuning everything to where, if I take that five-step and get it out of my hand, it might have been the difference in me putting the ball in front of the guy or behind the guy. It is little things like that that really will make a big difference.

"I don't think it is really unfamiliarity; it is just a matter of taking the details and fine-tuning everything, making sure we are sharp. If it is supposed to be a 14-yard comeback, run it at 14 yards. It is not like a guy forgets that it was a 14-yard comeback, it is just things like that. If I've got to take a five-step drop, take a five-step drop; don't take a seven-step drop. If it is three-hitch and three-plant, do your three-plant. It is just little things like that."

As to whether there will be aspects of the offense designed if he plays, Boller said, "No, I don't think there are certain plays that he (Bulger) has, that I have. We are just trying to operate this offense; it is still new to us. It is going to be a growing process but I think that we are making strides. I know after watching the tape there is a lot of work that we can go out there and help ourselves with to score more points."

Boller has a rep of starting cold and then settling down. Against the Packers, he was wild high on his first two passes, then got on a roll and that led to two touchdowns. He hopes to start strong against the 49ers.

"It is frustrating to me because I could literally throw those with my eyes closed," he said of the incompletions against Green Bay. "Just bad technique; I will hit those next time. I am not worried about that. Looking back, just a couple of fundamental things, just going through and completing the ball.

"Every offense is different. You might run one route with a seven-step and another team might run it with a five-step. This offense is all about timing; it is all about timing."

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Linebacker David Vobora, who started the first three games of the season on the strong side, suffered a concussion Sunday against Green Bay and was to take some tests Tuesday to see if he was healthy enough to play. It didn't matter.

The NFL lowered the hammer on Vobora Tuesday, suspending him for four games for violating the league policy on performance enhancing substances. Vobora will be eligible to return to the roster Oct. 26, the day after the Rams' game against the Colts.

According to Marc Lillibridge, one of the agents that represents Vobora, the positive test was triggered by a tainted supplement.

"In no way has David ever used an illegal substance," Lillibridge told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He took a supplement that was tainted. A highly respected toxicologist has proven this to be the case. David did everything by the book in regards to investigating this supplement before he began using this product."

The NFL has a hot line that players can call to find out if a supplement is OK to use. The NFL also has a program that certifies supplements, but the one Vobora took was not certified. Lillibridge said Vobora contacted the hotline, and none of the ingredients listed was banned.

Said Lillibridge, "We're in the process of suing the company that manufactures this tainted product. It's a product a lot of players use."

Lillibridge also said he sent samples to a toxicologist of two supplements Vobora used. One was fine, but the other included a banned substance.

He concluded, "We took the appeal process as far as we could take it."

As it relates to his concussion, Vobora was hit in the head on a kickoff return in the third quarter but continued playing until near the halfway point of the fourth quarter.

When Vobora repeatedly asked some teammates about his assignments, he said, "They grabbed the trainers, and started asking me questions. The only thing I remember is going out of the tunnel when they turned off all the lights and we had the fog and stuff. Going home, going out to dinner with some teammates, I don't remember any of that."

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Boller got in front of RB Steven Jackson to block on a running play Sunday against Green Bay and was asked about it afterward.

Said Boller, "It looked good (on tape). I love doing that kind of stuff and to be able to kind of spring Steven Jackson out a little bit more gets me into the game."

Asked if he was reminded there was only one other quarterback available, Boller said, "The one guy that did remind me was Keith Null (third quarterback). He said, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'I am playing football man.' "

As for whether any coaches told him to be careful, Boller said, "No, no. The coaches just tell me to play. That is my nature. I like doing that kind of stuff. I think guys like it. I am an upbeat guy; I used to play linebacker when I was a kid so it is my time to take it out on them. Instead of being hit all the time, you get to actually hit them."

When coach Steve Spagnuolo was asked about Boller's block, he said, "I am going to have him change his shoulder pads, instead of having those. (But) that's Kyle and it says a lot about him. I'd like him to be careful."

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When SS James Butler suffered a knee injury on the second play of the game for the Rams' defense Sunday, it left only safeties Oshiomogho Atogwe and Craig Dahl on the roster because Antonio Smith and David Roach were inactive.

Dahl came in for Butler, and led the defense with 11 tackles. Dahl was with the Giants in 2007 and 2008 when Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator.

He played nine games with two starts, but suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee and then missed the entire 2008 season because of an injury to his right knee. Dahl signed with the Rams in the offseason, but missed the first two games of the season because of a hamstring issue.

With Butler out at least two weeks and perhaps four, Dahl is slated to start this week against San Francisco.

Said Spagnuolo, "It was nice to know that you could put a guy in there with limited reps. He made some plays for us."

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There was more roster roulette this week. In addition to the suspension of LB David Vobora, the Rams released DT Hollis Thomas and placed WR Laurent Robinson on injured reserve, officially ending his season.

WR Nate Jones, DT Leger Douzable and LB Dominic Douglas were promoted from the practice squad, while DT Marlon Favorite, WR Sean Walker and LBs Justin Roland and Jay Moore were added to the practice squad.

With strong-side LB David Vobora suspended four games, Paris Lenon and Larry Grant are vying for the starting spot. The absence of WR Laurent Robinson could result in Ruvell Martin seeing his first action with the Rams.

The Rams want to get a look at Douzable inside, which is what led to the release of Thomas.


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