WR Stedman Bailey back practice for Rams, expected to play vs Cowboys

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ST. LOUIS — Stedman Bailey emerged as a consistent threat late in his rookie season and the St. Louis Rams anticipate plugging the wide receiver back into the mix right away this weekend against Dallas.

Bailey served half of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. He was at home in Miami when he learned about the agreement on a new policy and took the first plane out Wednesday, arriving in time for practice.

"First and foremost, it feels extremely good to be back here," Bailey said. "The first two weeks it was a dreadful feeling for me, and I'm just happy it's all over now."

Bailey thought the new policy was more reasonable.

"I mean, the rules are the rules, we have to follow those rules," Bailey said. "But at the same time it's pretty helpful for a lot of guys where they'd be getting in some severe trouble and taken away from the game."

Coach Jeff Fisher said Bailey was eager to return to the fold and had no rust. Bailey could replace former West Virginia teammate Tavon Austin, who injured his right knee in Sunday's victory at Tampa Bay.

"His teammates were really excited," Fisher said. "He came running into the building as fast as he could."

Austin was wearing a brace at practice.

"He's better but he didn't do anything today," Fisher said. "Sted gives us some versatility."

Bailey had two starts last year. He caught 17 passes for 226 yards and had seven special teams tackles.

"We'll plug him in on his familiar roles on special teams and see how he does for the offense," Fisher said.

The Rams released defensive lineman Matt Conrath earlier this week in anticipation of activating Bailey. Conrath was re-signed to the practice squad and linebacker Kevin Reddick was released.

Quarterback Shaun Hill (left quadriceps) was limited and Fisher said backup Austin Davis took virtually all of the first-team snaps. Fisher said Hill could get more work Thursday but was noncommittal.

"Better and better every day, absolutely," Hill said. "That's about all I can say about it."

The Rams have a bye after this week and could opt to hold out the 34-year-old Hill to give him plenty of time to recuperate. Hill is understandable anxious to return, giving his start against the Vikings was his first since 2010.

"That is something I struggled with, big time, originally when it happened," Hill said. "It's been hard for me to get on the field, especially the last few years.

"What can you do? You pick yourself back up and get yourself back as quick as you can."


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