Miller's feat forgotten in another Rams loss

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(Eds: With AP Photos.)

Nick Miller could have been a hero.

If the St. Louis Rams had been able to make a tackle on Patrick Peterson's NFL record-tying fourth punt return for a touchdown this season, everyone would have been raving about Miller's electrifying 88-yard return for a score in the first quarter of the Rams' 23-20 loss to Arizona.

Miller became the first St. Louis player to return a punt for a touchdown since Dante Hall ran one back 85 yards in a 35-7 loss to Dallas on Sept. 30, 2007. Miller's gallop, which tied for the third longest punt return for a touchdown in franchise history, was one of the few highlights in St. Louis' ninth defeat in 11 games.

''If we don't give up that punt return, everybody would be talking about Nick Miller,'' St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo said.

Instead, Miller's run became an afterthought.

Miller went from couch potato to special teams standout in a matter of days. Last Wednesday, four days before the game, he was at home in Arizona when the injury-plagued Rams called.

''One minute I was laying on the couch, the next minute I'm in the end zone,'' Miller said. ''A crazy week.''

Miller got the call at 2 p.m. and was on a plane to St. Louis three hours later.

''It all happened so fast,'' he said, ''But that's football. You've got to be ready when someone calls.''

Miller was signed by the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2009. Slowed by a shin injury his rookie campaign, he made his NFL debut on Oct. 10, 2010, reeling off a 46-yard punt return in the third quarter of the Raiders' 35-27 win over San Diego. He was cut by Oakland on Oct. 1 of this season and signed by St. Louis six days later. The Rams waived him on Oct. 22 but re-signed him last week.

Miller has replaced an ineffective Austin Pettis as the Rams No. 1 punt returner. Danny Amendola, the Rams' top kickoff and punt returner, had a season-ending elbow injury during the first game of the season.

Notes: Quarterback Sam Bradford and defensive end Chris Long did not practice Thursday. Both are bothered by ankle injuries and Bradford appeared to be limping. ''When he came in this morning it went backward a little bit,'' Spagnuolo said. ''In an effort to get it forward, we shut him down.'' A.J. Feeley took the first-team reps in practice and Spagnuolo said a decision on Bradford's status for Sunday's game at San Francisco will be made Friday. Long said he was held out of practice as a precautionary measure and plans to play Sunday at San Francisco. ... Punter Donnie Jones and safety Darian Stewart worked out on a limited basis Thursday. Jones is bothered by a sore ankle. Stewart is trying to work through concussion-like symptoms.

Tagged: Rams, Chris Long, Nick Miller, Sam Bradford

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