ST. LOUIS (AP) -Though he's playing with two broken ribs, Marc Bulger has no problem with opening up the St. Louis Rams' dormant offense.
The 0-3 Rams had a multitude of safe plays last week to limit wear and tear on their quarterback, who was hurt in Week 2 when the Panthers sacked him six times. The result: Bulger was sacked only once, but the Rams couldn't score in a 24-3 loss to the Buccaneers.
Despite a wealth of talent on offense and a coach who rose from the ranks as an offensive coordinator, the Rams have scored only two touchdowns in three weeks. Coach Scott Linehan said last week he was just trying to take care of Bulger, who signed a six-year, $65 million contract extension in training camp.
``I don't know if my M.O. is to play it safe, I think it's to play smart,'' Linehan said Wednesday. ``There is a happy medium in protecting your quarterback, running the football and being aggressive.
``We certainly have not achieved that.''
Bulger was diplomatic when assessing the game plan, saying he'll leave that to the coaches.
``They study a lot of film and honestly, I just run what they call,'' Bulger said. ``We trust the plays that are called and why they're calling them.
``We had opportunities, we just didn't get the ball in the end zone.''
Bulger threw his first three interceptions of the season against the Buccaneers, but two were the result of miscommunication. Rookie running back Brian Leonard didn't turn around fast enough on a hot read with the Bucs blitzing, and Bulger and Drew Bennett weren't in sync on an end zone pattern. Bulger thought it was supposed to be a jump ball with the 6-foot-5 Bennett, while Bennett thought it was a fade pattern.
``We were just on the wrong page,'' Bulger said of the Bennett pass. ``If I was aiming for the back cone where he was headed, the ball wouldn't have been a line drive, and I know for a fact I wouldn't miss by 5 yards.''
In any case, Bulger said the ribs are not hindering his throws. He's been helped by acupuncture treatment and painkilling injections.
``Some guys, certain things don't work, and some guys, certain things do work,'' Bulger said. ``And I think I found a nice mixture that works.''
Linehan and offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who calls the plays, know they need to find the right mix for the Rams to have a chance at unbeaten Dallas.
``Anytime, obviously, when you're not scoring like you feel you should be, you'll second-guess what you're doing,'' Olson said. ``You'll look at everything you're doing.
``We wanted to keep Marc clean and keep him healthy and limit the shots he was taking, and your margin is small when you play it that way.''
The Rams have additional woes, now that feature back Steven Jackson is out with a partially torn left groin. Jackson is likely to miss at least a few games, leaving second-round pick Leonard as the substitute starter.
The offensive line took another hit Sunday when guard Mark Setterstrom was lost for the season with a knee injury. Tackle Orlando Pace (shoulder) was lost in the opener and guard Richie Incognito has yet to play after a preseason high-ankle sprain.
Incognito took some snaps Wednesday, but Linehan said he'd again be questionable this week. Todd Steussie, the top backup at guard and tackle, has a broken foot and won't be ready until the second half of the season.
On top of that, Bennett, one of the team's top free-agent pickups, is still not at full strength from a quad injury.
``I thought a lot on Monday and Tuesday, what can we do better?'' Bulger said. ``We're losing these guys and we've lost Steven now, but they're all excuses.
``All I can do as a player is control what I do. I can't worry about who's playing, who's practicing, who's out.''

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