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Rams WR Avery practices just three weeks after breaking his left foot

ST. LOUIS -- Rams wide receiver Donnie Avery had been expected to miss up to the first two weeks of the season with a left foot stress fracture, but he was back on the practice field Tuesday.

"Like I tell my teammates, you know, I run fast, but I heal faster," Avery joked after the workout at Rams Park, where he appeared on his way to a quick recovery. Avery was hurt during an Aug. 7 night scrimmage when a defensive back landed on his foot.

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Avery became the Rams' No. 1 receiver after Torry Holt left for the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency.

Chosen in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2008 draft, Avery burst on the scene last year after being bothered early by a hip injury. His speed forced defenses to account for him, and he had 53 catches for 674 yards and three touchdowns. His biggest catch was a 69-yard touchdown reception against the New England Patriots.

Avery also rushed for a touchdown.

With Avery being an integral part of the offense, his Rams teammates were glad to see him back on the field.

"I was surprised to see him out there," running back Steven Jackson said. "He had a burst in his step."

Indeed, it looked like Avery didn't miss a step. In working with the reserves during a red-zone drill, Avery made a great catch in the corner of the end zone by leaping and stretching his arms to haul in the ball and then getting his feet down in bounds.

"Yeah, my hands still work," Avery said. "My feet still work."

First-year Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said Avery has been wanting to get back to playing. He has been working on the sidelines with Rock Gullickson, the strength and conditioning coach.

Rams' top 5 fantasy players

  1. Steven Jackson (right)
  1. Donnie Avery
  2. Marc Bulger
  1. Randy McMichael
  1. Laurent Robinson

- Michael Fabiano

After doing some individual drills Monday, Avery jumped into the team drills Tuesday.

After the injury, Avery stayed upbeat. "I wasn't worried at all. I know myself," Avery said. "I can play through anything. It wasn't anything that bothered me.

"I feel like I'm refreshed," Avery added. "You can look at this like hurting me, but at the same time, I look at it as being an advantage for me."

Avery said other players already have been tested in preseason play, while he's coming in fresh. "I don't have camp legs."

The staff will remain cautious with Avery, Spagnuolo said. "We've gone this far -- no sense of setting him back."

Avery said he might not play in the preseason finale Sept. 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he will be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 13 at Seattle.

"Oh yeah, zero doubts," Avery said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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