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Bulger, Jackson and Pace set to return for St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Coach Jim Haslett knows it's no cinch he'll be back in St. Louis next season. A couple of wins might help persuade the owners to keep him.

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"Obviously, you'd like to win some games so it would make ownership and the fans and everybody feel a little better about yourself," said Haslett, whose team is on a five-game losing skid. "To be honest, I told the players we need to win games but not for me and not for the coaches.

"The whole world's against you right now so why not buckle up together, play as a team?" he said Wednesday.

A rosy injury report, starting with the probable return of Steven Jackson from a thigh injury that has sidelined him for all but a half the last five games, certainly can't hurt. The Rams (2-9) are easing Jackson back, giving him less than half the snaps on Wednesday, but barring a setback the workload will be increased the rest of the practice week in preparation for Sunday's game against the Dolphins (6-5).

"Obviously, when you have one of your best players out five weeks it limits you," Haslett said. "We've still got things to do and holes to fill, but when you get a guy like Steven Jackson back it gives you hope."

Haslett also expects Marc Bulger to start against the Dolphins after shaking off a concussion in Sunday's loss to the Bears, and for tackle Orlando Pace again to protect the quarterback's blind side. Pace has made a rapid recovery after missing one game with a knee injury, and Bulger said it was 99 percent that he'd play after being cleared by team doctors earlier Wednesday.

"I don't know exactly what my grade was, but it was a passing grade," Bulger said.

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Bulger was injured on a helmet-on-helmet hit while getting sacked by the Bears' Adewale Ogunleye only five plays into last week's 27-3 loss, but noted that he had ducked into the contact. He was already feeling better in the second half, shaking off blurred vision and mental difficulties, and worked out Tuesday without problems before taking a full load in practice on Wednesday.

"I was pretty foggy for about 30 minutes but I was clear enough in the second half," Bulger said. "But at that point doctors wanted to do the safe thing and I kind of agreed with them."

Bulger missed two games with a concussion last year but said that was on a hit that was much worse.

"It's funny, because I've been hit 10 times harder this year than that," Bulger said. "I think it's just the way you're hit or the position you're in."

Bulger wants to help the Rams salvage something from another lost season, so he's eager to get back on the field.

"I don't see a reason why just because the season's going bad that I shouldn't be out there," Bulger said. "Hopefully other guys realize if you're a little banged up, you should be out there.

"On a losing team you do see the injured reserve list go up higher, and it's an easy way out sometimes," he added.

Bulger said last week he wanted Haslett back, and added he spoke for several teammates. Haslett even has high-strung offensive guard Richie Incognito in his corner.

Incognito was sent to the principal's office after criticizing fans and then encouraging hecklers as he walked off the field on Sunday, cupping his hands to his ears. During an apology to the fans on Wednesday, he said it was time to ramp it up for the coach.

"We can't really have any more distractions," Incognito said. "We're trying to win some ballgames to keep Haslett, and that's where our focus needs to be."

Going into halftime with the game still up for grabs would be significant progress for the Rams, who have been outscored 123-13 before the break during the losing streak.

"We've got to take better control of the ball," Haslett said. "Somehow, by the halfway point of this game on Sunday our players have got to feel 'Hey, we've got a chance, we can win this thing.

"We've got a find a way to get this thing done."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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