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Contract-seeking Bulger a no-show at Rams' meeting

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, who is seeking a new contract, was a no-show Thursday for a mandatory team meeting the day before the start of training camp.

Rams coach Scott Linehan said team officials were meeting with
Bulger's representatives and was hopeful that Bulger would be on the field for the first practice Friday morning.

"I'd be surprised if he wasn't," Linehan said. "I think it'll
be resolved. I'd be really surprised if it got that far,
personally."

Linehan said the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback's no show was an
excused absence, for now, and there would be no fine. The two spoke
by telephone Thursday morning and Linehan believed that Bulger was
in St. Louis.

"Certainly I'd be a lot more comfortable if it was resolved
before the meeting, but I'll be fine if it's resolved in this
meeting," Linehan said.

Bulger is in the final season of a four-year, $19.1 million
contract, putting him somewhere in the middle of the NFL in terms
of salary for his position. The team has said signing him to a new
deal is a priority and has been formulating an offer that could
make him the highest-paid player in franchise history.

Earlier this month, Bulger said in an interview with Sirius
Radio that he would consider a holdout. Last year he threw for
4,301 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions, a 62.9
percent completion rate and ranked fourth in the NFL in passer
rating.

"I don't think it's going to happen, but you never know,"
Bulger said then. "I don't want to rule anything out."

A spokesman for Bulger's agent, Tom Condon, said Condon was out
of town and negotiating contracts. Linehan said the meeting was
delayed until now because Condon has been busy dealing with other
clients, and didn't regard Bulger's no-show status as sending a
message.

Linehan said he's staying out of the talks and concentrating on
his area of expertise. The Rams were 8-8 in his first season.

"Having the team in the right state starting camp is critical
to me," he said. "The only hard part is it's not perfect right
now.

"But let's get to [Friday] before there's any overreaction of
any kind."

Teammates who arrived before the early afternoon meeting
appeared confident, too.

"I don't know if he's going to be here or not," running back
Steven Jackson said. "But I believe for him that everything will
work out.

"Without him, I don't know how we're going to run the
offense."

Center Andy McCollum said he expected Bulger to show up for the
first practice "regardless of what happens."

"He's been around a long time and he knows what he's doing,"
McCollum said. "I expect to see Marc today, but if not then I
trust that he'll handle it."

Wide receiver Torry Holt has caught 38 touchdown passes from
Bulger, second-most among active duos in the NFL. Holt had also
expected to see Bulger at the meeting.

"Hopefully they can get this situation nipped in the bud and
give him what he deserves," Holt said. "And we can move on as a
team, as an organization, and make good out of this thing."

The other major absence was first-round pick Adam Carriker, a
defensive lineman, who remained unsigned. Linehan said the Rams
also were in serious negotiations with Carriker's agent, Vann
McElroy.

Linebacker Kevin McLee, an undrafted free agent from West
Virginia, was excused due to the death of his father.