ST. LOUIS -- First, it was the thumb. Then the throat, then the back, then the ribs.
St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner is feeling good considering his various minor setbacks, but he can't help wondering whether he's butting against forces from the dark side.
"I keep thinking somebody doesn't want me to play in these games," Warner said. "But my God's bigger, I guess."
Warner, a deeply religious man, had similar remarks right after the Rams advanced to the NFC championship game with a 45-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers last Sunday, making a cryptic remark about "someone working on the other side."
"We believe the Lord brought us here for a purpose," he added. "Nothing that the other side tries to do can stop that."
Even though Warner had X-rays on his ribs on Monday, coach Mike Martz pronounced Warner fit on Wednesday as the Rams returned to practice in preparation for Sunday's NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"There's nothing wrong with Kurt's ribs," said Martz, somewhat irritably.
Warner confirmed that assessment, more or less.
"The ribs feel pretty good, a little bit sore but they feel real good for just being a couple days after the game," Warner said. "Really, I'm happy with where they're at."
He was anxious to test them on the practice field, where he showed full range of motion.
"It'll be good to go out there and loosen up a little bit and throw the football," Warner said before the workout. "I think it'll help it out a little bit. I don't foresee it being a problem."
Warner said he had no plans to wear extra protection Sunday against the Eagles.
"I always wear a flak jacket," he said. "I don't anticipate wearing anything else."
Feeling OK is good for Warner these days, considering his assortment of minor setbacks.
In the week before the Packers game, he missed perhaps the most important practice. Last Wednesday, while the Rams were putting in the game plan, Warner was at a hospital taking IV fluids after becoming ill with stomach flu.
On game day, he was still feeling a bit weak, and believes the back spasms he suffered might have been a result of still being a bit dehydrated. He admitted also feeling tightness in his back a few weeks ago.
"It's easy to make the assumption that it had something to do with the fact I was sick last week and lost some fluids and lost some weight," Warner said. "But you can't be sure."
Against the Packers, Warner also wore a specially-designed facemask to protect the bruised vocal cords suffered in the regular-season finale, an injury that kept him silent on doctors' orders for 10 days. Warner resumed talking late last week and sounds like his old self again.
"I got it checked out again yesterday and it's way ahead of schedule," Warner said. "They can't believe how quickly it's healed."
So, most of it is behind him.
Warner can't say the same about his thumb, which he banged on the helmet of an Eagles player in the season opener back in September. It's bothered him off and on the entire season, although it didn't keep him from winning his second MVP in three years and throwing for 4,830 yards - second most in NFL history.
"The thumb's the thumb," Warner said. "And it'll be there until the end of the season."
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