Rams' Pace to miss 2-4 weeks; Jackson also out

ST. LOUIS -- After an inspiring start under new coach Jim Haslett, the St. Louis Rams are struggling and running out of bodies.

Offensive tackle Orlando Pace will be sidelined two to four weeks with a knee injury sustained in a 35-16 loss at San Francisco. Offensive guard Richie Incognito was scheduled for an MRI exam for a strained rotator cuff. And running back Steven Jackson was already counted out for this week's game against the Chicago Bears after a second opinion agreed with the Rams' diagnosis as a strain.

One position that won't change: quarterback. Haslett decided to stick with Marc Bulger after consulting with staff and reviewing game tape.

Bulger was 33-for-54 for 295 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, both on throws into tight coverage, against the 49ers on Sunday. He also lost a fumble on a botched center snap.

"I think we have to do what we feel is best for the organization," Haslett said. "If you have somebody that steps in, is he going to step in for the whole time? Or if he goes bad, are you going to replace him and put Marc back in?

"Just talking to all the offensive coaches, they felt that Marc right now still gives us our best chance to win."

Since injuring his thigh on Oct. 14, Jackson had never been ruled out this early for an upcoming game. He didn't even make the trip to San Francisco.

"He has a strain with a little bit of blood in it and it's going to take some time to heal," Haslett said. "He thought that he should take some time off also, and let it heal and rest."

Pace went to seven straight Pro Bowls from 1999-2005, but the last three seasons he's played in only 18 games. Haslett said Pace may be placed on injured reserve, although he wanted to discuss the situation first with the veteran tackle.

Pace was hurt in the first half when 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes' leg whipped into the knee. The Rams already have eight players on IR.

It's a dismal picture for the Rams (2-8), who have been outscored 75-3 in the first half the last two weeks. San Francisco, which entered Sunday's game with a six-game losing streak, had a 35-3 cushion at the break.

"It's definitely disappointing when it's a team that you feel you should beat," cornerback Ron Bartell said. "You can't let the game get away from you in the second quarter."

There was a smattering of good news. Bartell injured his left knee and the Rams initially thought he might be lost for the season, but an MRI exam showed only a "soft tissue injury."

Antonio Pittman had 95 yards on 14 carries in relief of Jackson on Sunday and will again get the start against the Bears. The Rams totaled 126 yards rushing with a 5.5-yard average.

"I thought he did fine," Haslett said. "It was a shame we got behind and we couldn't keep running it."

The potential replacement for Incognito, rookie John Greco, injured a knee in practice last week but is expected to be a full participant this week.

The biggest problem on defense has been poor tackling. Haslett showed frustration about the 49ers' 28-point second quarter.

"Nobody could get anybody down," Haslett said. "I can't go out and tackle for them, so we can try to put them in the best position we can."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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