Rams cast aside starting cornerback Brown, sign ex-Saint Craft

ST. LOUIS -- A day after switching quarterbacks, the St. Louis Rams stayed in shake-up mode and released cornerback Fakhir Brown, a starter the previous two seasons but hampered by injuries this year.

Brown was suspended the first four games of last season for violating the league's substance abuse policy, but coach Scott Linehan said Wednesday the move had nothing to do with off-field issues. Linehan said the Rams wanted to sign cornerback Jason Craft, recently released by the Saints, and someone had to go.

Linehan said Ron Bartell reclaims his starting job after Brown started last week, and Linehan said Craft can be effective as a nickel cornerback and on special teams.

"We signed Jason and we had to release somebody, so we just decided that was the player we were going to release," Linehan said.

Linehan said he expected Craft to be an immediate contributor.

"I would be surprised if he's not participating a lot," the coach said. "That's why we signed him."

The release of Brown came a day after Linehan benched Marc Bulger in favor of 38-year-old Trent Green, and was among a bevy of changes for the winless Rams (0-3) heading into Sunday's game against the unbeaten Buffalo Bills (3-0).

Cornerback Tye Hill also regained his spot after a week as a backup, and outside linebacker Chris Draft, hampered by a back injury much of the summer, will replace Quinton Culberson.

Linehan was hopeful defensive end Leonard Little, the team's top pass rusher, would be back after missing two games with a hamstring strain. Little had limited work in practice Wednesday.

On offense, guard Jacob Bell is expected back from a hamstring injury.

"I'm not sending a message to anybody," Linehan said. "Our message is to get ready to beat Buffalo, do the best we can to beat Buffalo."

The Rams signed Brown to a five-year, $12 million free agent deal in 2006, and he started all 26 games he played his first two years with the franchise, totaling seven interceptions. He injured his shoulder early in camp this summer.