Front shocks/struts on a 1989 300E?

The shock/strut is not inside the spring. Does that mean it doesn't need a spring compressor to do the job? .... like a traditional shock absorber?
I'm guessing that this is going to be a pretty straight forward job. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Currently the front end rattles badly when I hit small bumps in the road. When I jack up the front end, it appears that the strut/shock is loose. It's not loose at the attachment points on the top and bottom.
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