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Up next: St. Louis Rams

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A closer look at the Seahawks’ opponent in their regular-season opener:

When: Sunday, 1:15 p.m., Qwest Field

TV/Radio: KCPQ-TV/13 (Ron Pitts, John Lynch); 710 ESPN and KIRO-FM/97.3 (Steve Raible, Warren Moon, Jen Mueller)

Records: Seahawks 4-0 in preseason; Rams 3-1

Series: Seahawks lead 12-9, including an eight-game winning streak

Star power: Steven Jackson. With Torry Holt gone and Marc Bulger hurting, the Rams’ best offensive option is handing the ball to Jackson. Even on a 2-14 team last season, and despite missing four games, Jackson ran for 1,043 yards and a 4.1-yard average and caught 40 passes. He also scored eight touchdowns, twice as many as the next player on the team. But in two games against Seattle last season, the Seahawks held him to averages of 2.9 and 3.8 yards.

Unsung hero: Donnie Jones. The former Seahawks’ draft choice (seventh round, 2004) was a second-team All-Pro selection last season, when he averaged a Rams’ record 50.0 yards on 82 punts with a net average of 41.1 yards. In fact, the left-footed Jones became only the second player in NFL history to average 50 yards per punt. The other? Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh (51.4-yard average in 1940).

On the spot: Alex Barron. With seven-time Pro Bowler Orlando Pace now in Chicago, the Rams’ former first-round draft choice (2005) moves to left tackle. Last year, while starting at right tackle, Barron helped the Rams allow 45 sacks, the fewest yielded by the team since 2003. But Sunday, he’ll have to deal with Patrick Kerney and Darryl Tapp, and also could face rookie Aaron Curry.

Burning question: Will Bulger play? The former Pro Bowl QB has been sidelined since breaking his right pinkie in the preseason opener. He took some shotgun snaps on Monday and has been throwing. But Wednesday’s practice will be pivotal, because Bulger is expected to take snaps under center for the first time since being injured. If Bulger can’t play, Kyle Boller will start against the Seahawks.

Familiar faces: In addition to Jones, kicker Josh Brown also played for the Seahawks (2003-2007) and defensive coordinator Ken Flajole (1999-02) and defensive backs coach Clayton Lopez (1999-2003) coached for the Seahawks. Flajole also coached at Washington (1979) and Pacific Lutheran University (1977-78). Fullback Mike Karney played at Kentwood High School. Wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett coached at Washington (2007-08)

The last word: “If we had a game tomorrow, I could play. It’s a pain thing. Guys find ways, there’s ways to get around it. You don’t want to do it too much so when the time comes if it’s still an issue, it won’t be an issue.” – Bulger


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