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Ram Notebook : Sully Wants to Make a Point During Reunion

Times Staff Writers

Ivory Sully was a reserve defensive back for six years with the Rams before earning a starting safety position at Tampa Bay this season. And he’s looking forward to Sunday’s game in Florida, he said.

“I can’t wait,” Sully said. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. I have a lot of incentive there and I’m going to bring it out.

“I felt like I had the ability, but they never gave me a chance. I have everything to prove--everything. I don’t want to prove it to the Ram coaches as much as the players. I want them to know the ears are pinned back and I’m ready to come.”

Sully said he bears no grudge toward the Rams.

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“I requested a trade and they were very amiable,” he said. “I wanted a chance to play regularly. I say, best wishes, until Sunday.”

Sully first won a starting position at strong safety, where he played with the Rams. Later, when Tampa Bay signed David Greenwood, Sully moved to free safety because of his experience, Coach Leeman Bennett said.

“It’s my job and I won it outright,” Sully said. “It’s going to take a lot to get it away from me.”

He tried to re-enter the game after sustaining a mild concussion against the Bears last Sunday but didn’t play in the second half. He’s fine now.

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“I made a mistake,” he said. “I buried my head. I hit (fullback Matt) Suhey. When you bury your head in this league, you can get in trouble.”

Jimmy Raye, former Ram assistant coach, struck by a car while jogging a month ago, returned to work as the Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator last week.

Raye suffered compound fractures in both bones of his lower leg. Police estimated the car was traveling about 30-40 m.p.h.

“They say it’s healing,” Raye said. “I’m making good progress. Fortunately, the only thing wrong is my leg.”

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Raye was supposed to be confined to the press box during last Sunday’s game, but he disobeyed instructions and spent the afternoon on the sideline, crutches and all.

His doctors have said he’ll be on crutches “anywhere from 10 weeks to 56,” Raye said.

He missed two games during his recuperation. Bennett ran the offense during Raye’s absence.

“That’s the first time in 10 years in professional football that I’ve missed time,” Raye said.

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Raye’s newest pupil is Steve Young, the former Brigham Young and Express quarterback who signed with the Bucs after obtaining his release from the United States Footall League.

“I like what I’ve seen of Steve,” Raye said. “It’s just a shame that we didn’t have him in the summer.”

Raye said he’d prefer to start fresh next training camp, rather than insert Young in the lineup before he is ready. Raye also said it’s difficult to give Young the needed practice time to improve his education.

Bennett said they are “bringing him along very slowly. We haven’t worked him much with our offense. He’s been running the scout team plays, but I’ve been impressed with some things he can do. He throws the ball well and has good touch.

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“Whether I play him at all this year I’ll have to wait and see. I don’t have any plans to play him, unless it’s late in the year.”

That may be when the time comes for the Buccaneers, currently 0-5, to write off the season and start working on the future.

“At that time I’d have to consider it,” Bennett said.

The Rams and Buccaneers both traded unhappy players this week. The Rams sent tight end Mike Barber to Denver the same day Tampa Bay sent former All-Pro linebacker Hugh Green to Miami for first- and second-round draft choices.

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Green walked out for one day last week.

“He had become dissatisfied with our scheme of things here and had so stated, and I felt it was best that we move him,” Bennett said.

“I weighed what kind of impact it would have on the football team. I don’t know that it’ll make a whole lot of difference. Linebacker is one of our deepest positions.”

James Wilder, the Buccaneers’ league-leading running back, said: “If the number one can go, more can follow. It’s a thought that crossed everyone’s mind, even me: If it happened to him, it could happen to me. I’m pretty sure everyone is aware of the situation.”

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Wilder leads the NFL with 526 yards rushing, despite gaining only 29--a two-year low--against the Bears last Sunday. That’s 295 ahead of Eric Dickerson, who won the title his first two seasons with 1,808 and a record 2,105.

At his current pace, Wilder would gain 1,683 this season.

“That’s premature talk right now,” he said. “We’re not even in the middle of the season. Maybe in November I can respond better.”

Wilder, 6-feet 3-inches, 225 pounds, also is the league’s third-leading receiver with 31 catches. He has no preference, “as long as we get a win out of it.”

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But that’s the problem. The Buccaneers’ lack of success over the years hasn’t done them much good in the Florida market.

“I get no respect,” Wilder said, laughing on the phone. “You’re in California. You wouldn’t realize how the market is here. It’s slow. I’ve been here four years now and, as far as getting any endorsements, there hasn’t been a door opened.

“I’m trying to do some print work for advertising to get some national exposure. When they say modeling, I kind of get that image of looking at a 6-3, 225-pound guy walking down a runway, but that’s not the point.”

Trainer George (Mother) Menefee will miss his first game in 31 years with the Rams Sunday. He had arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday.

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Menefee, who will 70 on Oct. 25, was getting along fine on his bad knee until last Sunday when he had to jump out of the way of a play on the sideline. The aggravation made surgery necessary.

Menefee’s closest rival for longevity on the club is cinematographer Mickey Dukich with 30 years. Dukich missed one game in 1969: the Rams’ “Playoff Bowl” game against Dallas at Miami.


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