St. Louis Rams Coach Mike Martz has an infection of the heart that will require treatment with antibiotics and keep him out of practice for a couple of days.

"I haven't been feeling good for four or five weeks and there is some type of infection in my body that has gotten worse," Martz said yesterday. "They think they've identified what it is."

Martz, 54, said doctors believe he has endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the heart's inner lining or the heart valve. Martz will undergo a series of blood cultures over the next week to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment involves taking antibiotics over a long period of time, Martz said.

"This is something that if you let it go, it could become a real issue," Martz said.

Martz was hospitalized Friday with what doctors believed was a sinus infection. He was released the next day and coached the Rams on Sunday in their 44-24 loss to the New York Giants.

Martz said he would continue to do some scripting and game planning in the morning the next few days, but planned to go home before practice begins. Joe Vitt, the assistant head coach and linebackers coach, ran practice last week in Martz's absence.

Vitt said at practice yesterday that he expects Martz will be back coaching in Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

"He's getting better," Vitt said. "We expect to have him back by the weekend."

* JETS: Coach Herman Edwards named Vinny Testaverde, 41, his staring quarterback, a move the desperate Jets hope can spark their floundering offense. Though Testaverde was on the verge of retirement just a few weeks ago, he is now put in the tough spot of trying to do whatever he can to get New York some victories.

His first start comes Sunday against Tampa Bay, the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 1987. When he takes the field, he will be the fourth-oldest quarterback to start a game in the Super Bowl era, behind Steve DeBerg, Warren Moon and Doug Flutie.

Testaverde, signed a week ago when Chad Pennington went out for the season with another torn rotator cuff, watched from the sideline as third-stringer Brooks Bollinger started in a 13-3 loss to Baltimore on Sunday.

* LIONS: Wide receiver Charles Rogers was suspended for four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, the latest setback in his injury-plagued career.

The announcement came in a two-sentence statement from the league.

* SEAHAWKS: Starting wide receivers Bobby Engram (cracked ribs) and Darrell Jackson (bone bruise) were both listed as doubtful for Seattle's game Sunday at St. Louis.

Meantime, Seattle signed veteran punter Tom Rouen and released Leo Araguz.