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Ram Notebook : This Secondary Seems Ready for Anything

<i> Times Staff Writers </i>

The Ram secondary began Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks with Johnnie Johnson at free safety, Jerry Gray and LeRoy Irvin at cornerbacks and Michael Stewart at strong safety. Mickey Sutton would come in as the fifth defensive back on likely passing downs.

And here’s how the Rams ended the game:

Sutton--Out with ankle injuries. Anthony Newman took his place.

Gray--Out with a bruised left shoulder. When Gray went down in the third quarter, Newman went full time to left cornerback.

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Joining Stewart and Newman in the lineup at times were rookie James Washington and the recently signed Frank Wattelet.

So what happens? Stewart finishes with a fumble recovery and an interception. Washington gets an interception. Newman gets an interception. The Rams win, 31-10.

All week long Stewart and Newman had been quizzing each other on defensive responsibilities. Who covers what receiver? What do they do in this zone? What do they do in that zone? That sort of thing.

It worked.

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“He was teaching me and it was helping him learn too,” Newman said.

Newman began the week trying to learn everything he could about strong safety, just in case Stewart, who was replacing the injured Vince Newsome, got hurt. Instead, he ended up at cornerback.

“I know my corner stuff,” he said.

And if something does happen to Stewart?

“If he goes down, I’ll be ready to step in there,” Newman said. “I’ve got the basics down pretty well.”

The Rams would rather not find out.

Irvin’s reaction when he learned that Stewart, a second-year player, intercepted the first pass of his NFL career Sunday:

“That was his first today? He’s too old for that.”

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A banner hung at one end of Anaheim Stadium entered the debate on the ability of Seattle Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth: “Boz. I know Dick Butkus. Dick Butkus is a friend of mine. Boz . . . you’re no Dick Butkus.”

Talk about working hard for the money. Ram owner Georgia Frontiere spent a portion of the game passing out complimentary visors and towels to spectators.

Jeff Kemp, former Ram backup quarterback and now a Seattle backup, mopped up in the fourth quarter, completing 5 of 8 passes for 52 yards. With less than minute remaining, Kemp scrambled and scored on a 26-yard run. But the run was called back on an illegal use of the hands penalty.

A couple of plays later, a Kemp pass to the end zone was intercepted by James Washington.

Par for the course for the Seahawks on Sunday.

Three of the Seahawks’ four losses have come against NFC West teams.

Besides Sunday’s 31-10 loss to the Rams, the Seahawks were beaten, 38-7, by the San Francisco 49ers and, 20-19, by the New Orleans Saints.

“It’s a very good division,” Seattle quarterback Kelly Stouffer said. “I don’t know which team is better, but they were all better than us.”

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