Dickerson Claims He Has to Win His Job Back

Times Staff Writer

This actually was said by Eric Dickerson as he reintroduced himself to the practice field Monday afternoon:

“I saw Charles White play in college. He’s tough. I never carried 36 times. It’s like when you don’t show up, you have to win your position back. I believe I have to win my position back.

“But he’ll have a run on his hands.”

By all accounts--White’s and Ram Coach John Robinson’s--the alleged competition should last slightly less than a millisecond.

Disregard White’s lofty standing among the NFL’s rushing leaders--he is fourth, behind Tampa Bay’s James Wilder, the New York Jets’ Freeman McNeil and Seattle’s Curt Warner. His totals, however impressive, are the work of part-time help. Dickerson didn’t return to the Rams after a 46-day holdout only to be shown a seat on the bench.

Said White, after his 36-carry, 144-yard effort Sunday: “This is a great feeling and I might as well enjoy it now because next week I’ll be running down, covering kickoffs in Seattle.”


Robinson said as much, too. He said he hasn’t decided if Dickerson will start next Monday night’s game against the undefeated Seahawks. “But he’s going to play. It will be great practice for him. There’s no sense in not planning to play him. How much he goes, a lot of that will be on how the week goes.”

Dickerson’s work week began with a brief meet-the-press session, then the inevitable film meetings, in this case, to watch the game against Philadelphia, where he played sideline observer rather than running back. By mid-afternoon, Dickerson had found his way to the practice fields, much to the delight of teammates, coaches and mini-cams.

He arrived fashionably late for stretching exercises, then spent the remaining hour taking handoffs from quarterback Dieter Brock, catching passes and jogging around.

After practice, Dickerson pronounced himself fit and ready. For a team preparing to face Seattle’s supposed Super Bowl contenders, there can be few nicer sights than the one of Dickerson trotting into the huddle.

Even more comforting to the Rams is Dickerson’s assurance that he is here to stay.

“I will not leave camp,” he said. “Now that I’m here, I will not walk out. I owe it to my teammates.”

Dickerson’s advisers said that they are expecting a contract offer from the Rams sometime today. Bargaining will begin soon thereafter, they said.

The remaining unknown concerns Dickerson’s ability to perform without suffering from the same problems that plagued another young holdout in his first appearance--quarterback Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins.

"(The Seahawks) might want to prove I can’t come in and play without training camp or play in any games,” Dickerson said. “But I’ve been a marked man for two years and I’ve handled it pretty well.”

To help smooth the transition from holdout to hope, Dickerson will attend tutoring sessions today and Wednesday, the Rams’ scheduled days off this week. He said he probably could run the ball about 28 times against Seattle. “Something like that, normal.”

Mike Guman, who suffered torn ligaments in his right knee against the Eagles Sunday, underwent arthroscopic surgery Monday and will be out at least eight weeks, a Ram spokesman said.

Guman, who serves as a slotback on offense and also plays on special teams, was hurt late in the first quarter while returning a kickoff. According to Gil Haskell, the special teams coach, an Eagle defender hit Guman’s knee from the side while attempting a tackle.

Robinson said Guman will be put on injured reserve later this week. There are other injuries of note:

--Guard Dennis Harrah has a torn thigh muscle and isn’t expected to play against the Seahawks. “I would say it does not look good,” Robinson said.

Russ Bolinger will replace Harrah in the starting lineup. Robinson said he might add another lineman to the roster if Harrah’s condition warrants a move to the injured-reserve list.

--Running back Barry Redden continues to nurse an injured ankle. “I think my worst fears about his ankle injury are being realized and I think, he again, becomes questionable,” said Robinson, who now regrets an earlier decision to put Redden in the lineup against Denver in the season opener.

“I made an error,” he said. “I should have just kept him out of the first game. But we live and learn.”

Robinson said that recently acquired wide receiver Bobby Duckworth would play more against Seattle. He was involved in 20 plays against Philadelphia. Duckworth shares time with starter Ron Brown.

“Ron looks tired and kind of drawn to me, to the point where we may share the job next week,” Robinson said.

Brown said that he had been sick Saturday. “Some kind of virus,” he said. “I couldn’t eat anything.” As for his knee rehabilitation, Brown said he was at “about 85-90%.

“I’m kind of discouraged about my knee not being where I want it to be as far as my confidence in it, but I’m trying to play through it,” he said. “It hurts to make different cuts on it. It’s just not as strong as I’d like it to be.”

Brown isn’t fond of possibly losing his starting position. “But Duckworth is a good receiver,” he said. “This is unfortunate for me. I wish that I could be at 100% right now. More importantly, I want to win.”