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Avery returns from stress fracture

ST. LOUIS -- 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 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.

Avery became the Rams' No. 1 receiver after Torry Holt left through 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 New England.

Avery also rushed for a touchdown.

Being an integral part of the offense, his 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."

Rookie 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.

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. 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.

He said other players have already 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 may not play in the preseason finale Sept. 3 against Kansas City, but he will be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 13 at Seattle.

"Oh yeah, zero doubts," Avery said.