Pre-Game Player Notes

Pre-Game Player Notes

The Insiders take a look at three different players heading up to Sunday's game: Jeff Wilkins (pictured), Kurt Warner, and Joey Goodspeed.


WARNER BACKS THE STARTER: QB Kurt Warner understands coach Mike Martz's decision to back Marc Bulger as the starting quarterback.

"I like the fact he's standing behind Marc and pushing through these things," Warner said. "You go through struggles, you go through growing pains, and the fact is we're still winning football games and that's the bottom line.'

Bulger doesn't underestimate the value of having Warner remaining positive and helping him throughout the difficult times.
"Kurt's been there all year for me, and certainly when times are tough he's going to be there," Bulger said.

During the team's Nov. 16 game against Chicago, when Martz asked if he was ready to play, Warner said he was, but suggested the coach should stay with his starter.

Said Warner, "It's exactly what I would have wanted somebody else to do for me, and that's the bottom line. If it hurts me, it hurts me."


FROM MISSES TO MONEY: He struggled with mechanics and confidence last season, but that's now a distant memory for PK Jeff Wilkins.

As defensive end Grant Wistrom said, "If any of you, and that includes fans, see Jeff walking around, just call out, 'Hey, Money, what's up?' He's been "Money" and he loves it."

Wilkins leads the NFL in scoring with 111 points and field goals with 27. That's two points more than Colts PK Mike Vanderjagt and one field goal more than Vanderjagt. Wilkins has hit 13 consecutive field goals, including two straight last-minute game-winners against Chicago and Arizona. In the last three games, he has seven field goals in the fourth quarter and one in overtime.

Wilkins says he's just doing his job.

"They battle day in and day out, and I'm just fortunate enough to help out," Wilkins said. "I just go out there and try to put the same stroke on each kick."

Said tackle Orlando Pace, "Every time he does it he's money, man. He just keeps it going and keeps making field goals."

On a wall near the team's locker room, many photos are displayed, and each week after a win, someone is featured as player of the week. This week, club photographer Bill Stover had Wilkins' photo superimposed inside a $100 bill. That's Money.


THE GOOD FULLBACK: The Rams have gone through a long list of fullbacks since James Hodgins was released last February, but it now appears Joey Goodspeed could be the answer.

"We've found our fullback," coach Mike Martz said after the team's win over Arizona.

Goodspeed had a big block on Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher two games ago, that helped spring RB Marshall Faulk for a 52-yard run on a critical 4th-and-1 play. Against Arizona, Martz said Goodspeed was "outstanding."

Goodspeed wasn't signed until Oct. 28, and then was released the following week before the Rams' game against Baltimore. He was re-signed Nov. 11, and has impressed Martz ever since. It hasn't hurt Goodspeed to have previously played in San Diego in a similar offense to what the Rams run.

Said Martz, "He's played in this offense with the Chargers when he was down there. Everything is kind of the same when Norv (Turner) was there. They were using the same terminology down there. He's played, his body type -- all of the things are just natural there. He's very smooth and picks things up, does not make mistakes. He's really kind of what we're looking for in a lot of respects."


BY THE NUMBERS: 6-1 -- QB Marc Bulger's record as a starter in games decided by seven points or less. The team's overall record with Bulger behind center is 14-3 and that includes a loss at Seattle last season where he was injured and left a scoreless game in the first quarter.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You can't tell a rookie anything, just like you can't tell a vet anything. You just got to see and do whatever works. I see guys like Aeneas Williams who have been in this league for a long time and I'm just trying to do what he does." -- Rookie LB Pisa Tinoisamoa on avoiding hitting the rookie wall late in the season.

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