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Rams getting healthy with return of Incognito, Brown

ST. LOUIS -- The first four games it's been all subtraction for the injury-riddled, winless St. Louis Rams. Finally, they're about to add a few players.

Guard Richie Incognito, recovered from a high ankle sprain sustained in the preseason, figures to add stability to a makeshift offensive line that has lost two players for the season. Cornerback Fakhir Brown also is due to make his debut after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

"My message to the team was, 'We started our climb back into being healthy,"' coach Scott Linehan said. "Hopefully we've turned a corner."

The news isn't all positive. Wide receiver Isaac Bruce (hamstring) and safety Corey Chavous (pectoral) will be game-day decisions on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, quarterback Marc Bulger (broken ribs) will be an emergency backup behind Gus Frerotte, and running back Steven Jackson (partially torn groin) will miss his second game.

Still, it's a step in the right direction for a scuffling team. Linehan also will add veteran presence to the line, giving Andy McCollum his first start at guard.

Linehan wasted no time plugging Brown back into the lineup. He'll replace Lenny Walls, who was burned repeatedly in last week's 35-7 loss to the Cowboys, with Ron Bartell also starting.

Bartell got his first career starts at right cornerback after Brown was suspended, and now moves to the left side where Walls had been starting in place of Tye Hill. Hill will miss his fourth game with a back injury.

During his enforced absence, Brown purchased tickets to the two home games he missed and watched from the stands.

"It was hard to sit back, wanting to be out there," Brown said. "I learned a whole lot and saw a whole lot of different things than being out there on the field. In a way I got something out of it."

Linehan restored Brown to the first string before seeing him on the field. Since then he has impressed the coach with his state of readiness.

"He has very fresh legs, that's one part that is noticeable," Linehan said. "He stayed in very good shape. It's been really good to have him back out here."

Incognito will be the third starter in five games at right guard. It'll be the same situation at left guard where McCollum is due to see his first action of the year after losing the center job to Brett Romberg in the preseason.

Incognito said there was no pressure from the coaching staff to get back on the field. On Sunday, 10 players will have started at the five line positions, three of them at two different spots. "They knew I wasn't 100 percent the last couple of weeks," Incognito said. "They were real good about it, they waited for it to get as close to 100 percent as possible, and it's there."

Incognito attempted to come back before the opener before re-injuring his left ankle.

"It's been a long process," Incognito said. "It's tough anytime you sit around, especially when your guys are out there having a tough time.

"It's tough sitting around and not being able to help out."

McCollum, 37, sustained a season-ending knee injury in last year's opener and has not played this season with Romberg among the few healthy players on the line. McCollum will start ahead of third-year player Claude Terrell to add a veteran presence.

McCollum was a starting guard on the Rams' Super Bowl team in 2001, but will be seeing his first action at that position since 2003.

"I'm not brash enough to think I can turn this whole thing around," McCollum said. "But I think I can contribute to helping us get a win."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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