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Robinson Tries to Squelch Tailback Controversy

Times Staff Writer

Rams Coach John Robinson, the local media bomb squader, tried to defuse a juicy tailback controversy on Monday before the first question was even fired.

The question? Greg Bell, who was filling in for the suspended Charles White, seems to have this knack for running. Moreover, the throw-in to the Eric Dickerson trade has gained 622 yards in 6 games, only 8 yards fewer than league-leader Dickerson and more yards than Herschel Walker, Curt Warner and Marcus Allen.

So what happens now that White is back after serving a 30-day suspension for substance abuse? White is the National Football League’s defending rushing champion. And what about rookie Gaston Green, who could give you 61 reasons (in 14 carries against Atlanta) why he should be playing more?

Remember, there’s only 60 minutes in every game and 1 starting tailback. So who wants to share?

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“I’m not going to be put in a position that becomes divisive,” Robinson said, responding to the question that begged to be asked but hadn’t been.

Robinson instead outlined a platform of peace and prosperity, and winning.

“Last year, I had Charlie White and me,” he said. “I was the second tailback. There wasn’t anybody else. That was a terrible position. We’re in a very good, positive position. Charles White is one of the great team players that I’ve known. And I think Greg Bell has demonstrated his ethic relative to the team.”

And frankly, that’s all Robinson wants to say about the subject. Except for this:

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“I think if you ask me every day for the next 75 days you’re liable to get us once saying, ‘Oh, Charlie should be playing more’ or ‘I like Greg Bell’ or ‘I want Tim Tyrrell to be the tailback.’ It can become divisive. I don’t want to deal with it every day.”

Bell, in the meantime, continues to roll up impressive numbers. Not only has he averaged more than 100 yards per game, but Bell’s rushing average is 4.9 per carry and he leads the NFL with 60 points scored.

Still, Robinson said he will rotate White back into this week’s rotation in preparation for Sunday’s showdown against San Francisco.

White played only a down in Sunday’s one-sided, 33-0 win over Atlanta.

Decisions, Decisions: Fullback Mike Guman and linebacker Jim Collins, both former starters, are eligible to come off injured reserve this week. But will they?

“I don’t have any comment on that,” Robinson said. “So much of the decision that results with people on IR is not so much whether you want them back or not as it is whether there’s room. And that relates to injuries.”

Robinson said Guman, who has been working out in full pads the last 2 weeks, is more ready to return than Collins. Both are recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

“Events will shape our plan so much, that for me to jump and say what I would do would not be advantageous,” Robinson said.

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Robinson said he thinks cornerback Cliff Hicks, who’s also eligible to come off injured reserve, is probably “a couple weeks away.”

Ram Notes

Today is the National Football League trading deadline, which means the Rams have only a few shopping hours left to make a move. Unless the Rams make a deal with Ron Brown, the retired receiver will be forced to sit out the season. Earlier this season, Brown spurned a trade offer to Tampa Bay. . . . With 36 sacks in 6 games, the Rams are on a pace to shatter the NFL’s single-season team record of 72, set by the 1984 Chicago Bears. . . . Linebacker Kevin Greene leads the NFL in sacks with 10. . . . Washington’s Mark Rypien has moved past Jim Everett as the NFC’s top rated passer. Rypien’s rating soared to 110.3 after this weekend. Everett, with a rating of 108.2, leads the NFC with 13 touchdown passes.


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