ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Just like the regular players, Jeff Wilkins is determined to play with pain.
The Rams' kicker ignored the tendinitis in his left knee and booted several 50-yarders indoors Thursday, pronouncing himself fine for Sunday's NFC championship game.
Wilkins' plant leg was shaky last week, and he abandoned form on a 42-yard field goal attempt that was wobbly and wide right. On Thursday, the form was back.
``It hurts, and it's going to hurt, and I guess I've accepted it, whereas in the past we've tried to keep it from hurting,' Wilkins said. ``It went pretty good, so I'm playing.'
Coach Dick Vermeil didn't think Wilkins' range would be affected.
``His leg bothered him, but he kicked well anyway,' Vermeil said. ``Just like most players at most positions that play a little banged up and bruised, he's determined to kick.'
Wilkins knows it may be a busy day, since the Rams are the No. 1 offense in the NFL. They scored seven touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings to reach this game against Tampa Bay.
``Unless that thing ruptures, I think I'll be able to kick as many extra points as we need,' he said. ``If we score 10, that'd be great.'
The news means Nick Lowery, 43, probably stays retired. Lowery, who hasn't kicked since 1996, tried out Tuesday and was Vermeil's choice in case Wilkins couldn't go.
Wilkins said Monday was the only day he was worried. But he didn't mind the Rams bringing in Lowery and two other kickers.
``If it was in the middle of the year, you never want anybody coming in to take your job,' Wilkins said. ``I kind of wanted them to have somebody in mind, yet still give the opportunity to give it a go if I could.'
Image courtesy of PicturesNow.com