"He's the fastest player on the Ram team, and he comes with better hands than most wide receivers."

The suspicion lingers even so that the Rams, instead of drafting Canidate, should have taken an impact defensive player, if they could have identified one, which maybe they couldn't.

* * * *

Who Likes False Starts?

Another latimes.com reader, Dick Dulgarian of Manhattan Beach, wants the NFL to do something about the penny-ante penalties that mar football as a spectator sport.

"Both college and pro games are slowed down by all the false-start penalties and the motion penalties and the penalties for lining up in the neutral zone, things like that," Dulgarian says.

"Why not just ignore those plays--without penalizing anyone--and let the games proceed?"

If it's an idea worth considering, the best way to solve the problem, possibly, is not to ignore such penalties but for the NFL to fine the coaches whose lack of firm disciplinary measures causes most of the trouble.

In turn, the coaches can, if they choose, fine their players--who can't be fined by the NFL for such reasons because of player-union considerations.

The league's present epidemic of false starts and offside plays should in any case be controlled in some way.

In 2000, how many false-start lovers tune into football games?

* * * *

Kaufman Could Help Raiders

The Raiders, as they contemplate their game at San Diego Sunday, are still on the move--and still getting heavy mileage out of running back Tyrone Wheatley, who on 15 carries gained 156 yards against Seattle the other day.

Even so, from this distance, Raider Coach Jon Gruden appears to be under-utilizing running back Napoleon Kaufman, who was called on only six times in the Seattle game for 34 yards.

Kaufman is in many ways a Marshall Faulk-type who, if the Raiders passed half the time or more on first down, might contribute Faulk-type numbers.

Then on later downs, Wheatley could come in and do his thing.

Gruden's quarterback, Rich Gannon, isn't the Kurt Warner-type--he doesn't have the arm--but in his way, Gannon is one of the NFL's most valuable quarterbacks, a heady, self-possessed type who doubles as an effective scrambler.

Playing conservatively this season by order of Gruden, Gannon doesn't throw many first-down passes.

But if he did, Gannon to Kaufman would be a first-down weapon.

And so, on first down, would Gannon to Tim Brown.

It would all be more demoralizing to Raider opponents if interspersed with Kaufman sweeps.