McCollum hopes to come back as center

Thursday, August 16, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:38 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Veteran center Andy McCollum returns for his 14th NFL season and he is looking to regain the form that allowed him to play all 1,025 offensive snaps in 2005.

McCollum missed the 2006 season. In the season opener against Denver, he started at left guard and suffered torn ACL and MCL ligaments in his left knee in the second quarter. That sidelined him for the rest of the year. The injury snapped a string of 156 consecutive regular season starts that dated back to 1996.

At 37, he decided to come back. McCollum, in his ninth season with St. Louis, is the oldest player on the roster.

“That’s what I do,” McCollum said after practice Wednesday at Rams Park. “I love to play football. I had to rehab the knee anyway so I could use it for the rest of my life. I never considered not coming back. My knee’s fine. I’m good to go.”

McCollum is battling Brett Romberg for the starting center position. Romberg, 27, emerged from the practice squad starting the final three games of the 2006 season. They were the first starts in his NFL career.

Rams coach Scott Linehan started Romberg in the preseason opener, a 13-10 victory over Minnesota. For the second game Saturday at home against San Diego, Linehan said McCollum gets the start. Linehan said the eventual starter has yet to be decided.

“It’s too early, still to tell,” Linehan said. “Our plan was to go through two games. I think we’ll have a better idea when these two games are complete to really give you a fair assessment. It’s still very close.”

NOTES: Wednesday is the last day of two-a-day practices for the Rams, who officially end training camp Friday. “I’ve been really happy with this camp,” Linehan said. “I sleep good at night.” ... For Saturday’s game, Linehan said the No. 1 unit will play more as will the second string than they did in the first game.

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