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Rams Sign Ellard for the Season : Top Receiver in ‘86 Ends Holdout Early

From Times Wire Services

Wide receiver Henry Ellard, embroiled in a contract dispute with the Rams for the second straight season, came to terms Friday with the NFL team. No terms were announced.

Ellard, 26, missed the first seven games of last year before signing a contract for the remainder of the season. Despite missing those seven games, he led the Rams with 34 receptions for 447 yards and four touchdowns.

The NFL’s all-time leading punt returner based on average per return, Ellard returned 14 punts for 127 yards and no touchdowns in 1986.

Ellard, who attended Fresno State, was drafted by the Rams in the second round in 1983. As a rookie, he caught 16 passes for 268 yards and no touchdowns and returned 16 punts for 217 yards and one touchdown.

In 1984, Ellard caught 34 passes for 622 yards and six touchdowns and returned 30 punts for 403 yards and two touchdowns. In 1985, he caught 54 passes for 811 yards and five touchdowns and returned 37 punts for 501 yards and one touchdown.

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Tony Eason, the New England Patriots starting quarterback, was among nine unsigned veterans failing to report to training camp, choosing to hold out over a contract dispute.

Eason, who threw for 3,300 yards last season and 19 touchdowns, remained in Millis, Calif., as a trickle of veterans checked into training camp at Bryant College.

Tom Ramsey, New England’s third-string quarterback behind Eason and Steve Grogan, signed with the club.

Eason led a group of 10 veterans still unsigned: kicker Tony Franklin, defensive end Kenneth Sims, wide receiver Derwin Williams, guard Paul Fairchild, tackle Bill Bain, cornerback Ernest Gibson, nose tackle Dennis Owen and tight end Willie Scott. Gibson reported to training camp. Mosi Tatupu, a running back and special teams player, exercised the one-year option on his contract for $375,000. Contract talks continued for Tatupu, who did not report.

The Philadelphia Eagles released tight end Byron Darby, who has played for the Eagles for four seasons. Darby, a 6-foot-4, 249-pounder from USC, was the Eagles’ fifth-round choice in the 1983 draft. He started seven games last year as a defensive back and switched to tight end where he started in the team’s last six games.

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer, who walked out of training camp Thursday over a contract dispute, could be prohibited from playing for any NFL team in 1987 unless he returns to camp by Aug. 6, the club said.

Team spokesman Doug Todd said the Cowboys sent a letter to the NFL office saying Rohrer could be placed on the restricted list unless he returns to camp by next Thursday.

Some of the ligaments in Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White’s right wrist disintegrated while he recuperated from a 1986 injury, but the Cowboys’ trainer said it would take surgery to determine if White has any ligaments remaining.

White missed the last half of the 1986 season when he was sacked by New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks. Doctors later determined he also suffered several torn ligaments in the wrist.

Darryl Rogers called this year’s crop of draft choices is the best in his three years as head coach of the Detroit Lions.

Rogers made the assessment after Lions rookies and free agents completed their fifth day of workouts at the team’s Oakland University training camp.

“We got some people who are going to help this football team and not just the No. 1 pick,” Rogers said. “We got better help from the draft this year than any year I’ve been here.”

Rogers’ first draft, in 1985, produced only two players who were on the 1986 roster. The Lions’ first five draft picks in 1986 made the roster that year.


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