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Warner hopes to play first half vs. Bucs

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Kurt Warner absorbed his first hard hit in the St. Louis Rams’ opening preseason game, and now he’s looking forward to his first success.

Warner was limited to two series in a 7-6 loss to the Oakland Raiders last week. He’s been told he could play most if not all of the first half of Monday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although he’s not counting on it.

During his career, he’s rarely played more than a quarter in a preseason game.

“I hope to play a half, really get in there and get a rhythm and play against this defense,” Warner said. “I think it’ll really help me speed things up and get ready to go.”

Coach Mike Martz was noncommittal about his plans for Warner, other than to say Warner would play more than he did the first week.

“I kind of have an idea of what we want to do, but it may change,” Martz said. “He needs to get in and mix it up against a team like this.”

Warner was 3-for-4 for 18 yards and an interception against the Raiders, last year’s Super Bowl losers. He was 0-6 as a starter last season while battling early inconsistencies and then injuries to his pinky and hand.

Warner got rocked on the second play of the Raiders game by lineman John Parrella, but eventually shook off the hit.

“I don’t want to say it’s fun to get hit, but it kind of makes you feel like you’re back into it,” Warner said.

It was a wake-up call for the quarterback, who has enjoyed the hands-off treatment all summer.

“In practice we have the red jerseys on and nobody ever touches us,” Warner said. “To get into a game, to get a hit or two and get kind of bumped around, it makes you feel like you’re back in the swing of things.

“It kind of excites you about what the season is going to be about.”

Facing the Bucs, the defending Super Bowl champions with the NFL’s best defense, excites him, too. He relishes testing himself against the Bucs’ team speed.

“That’s what makes it fun, that’s what really challenges you,” Warner said. “I think it’s just a great test for us, coming off last year and wanting to get back to the level we were at a couple years ago.

“Who better to test that against than the best defense in the league and a team that just won a Super Bowl?”

The Rams worked out indoors Friday due to the 92-degree heat, and gave healthy veterans Isaac Bruce and Aeneas Williams the day off along with several other players. Martz said if the team would have practiced outdoors they’d have to spend the next few days getting fluids back in the players.

Friday’s workout, the second at Rams Park since the team broke training camp, also ended about a half-hour early.

“We had so much hard work earlier in the week that we tried to back off them a little bit, and be a little bit more fresh and sharp,” Martz said.

Notes: Martz was honored Friday by the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in Boise, Idaho, as the most proactive coach. The Rams’ character education program, “Get Into the Game: Beyond Winning,” was honored for best single program. Martz is set to award $100,000 in proceeds from the third annual Mike Martz Celebrity Golf Classic to the Alzheimer’s Association St. Louis chapter. … The game is considered a sellout for NFL purposes, and will not be blacked out in the St. Louis area. About 250 tickets remained Friday night.

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