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Ram Notebook : Mora Makes the Most of His Chance to Play Down the Saints

Times Staff Writer

So which team is more pitiful, the Rams or New Orleans Saints? You be the judge. Sure, the Rams are 6-2, but remember Coach John Robinson said Monday his defense probably couldn’t stop a run in a stocking these days.

Wednesday, it was Saint Coach Jim Mora’s turn. His team, by the way, is 7-1 and leading the NFC West, but don’t let that distract from the theme.

“We’re not scoring a lot of points,” Mora said. “We struggle offensively for everything we get. It’s not that we’re bad, but it’s just a struggle. Nothing has come easy on offense. Maybe it doesn’t come easy for anybody. But some games I see it looks like it comes a little easier for (other) people. We don’t have a lot of big plays. . . .”

Obviously, the point both coaches are trying to make before the big showdown is that neither team is as good as the other and that neither team is as good as its record indicates.

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Fact or fiction? Actually, Mora builds a strong case for his Saints, who play the Rams on Sunday in the Superdome.

He pointed out dutifully that his team has not beaten a club with a winning record this season. In fact, the Saints have defeated Atlanta, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Dallas, San Diego, Seattle and the Raiders by an average of only 6.5 points.

“The only team that had a winning record of the teams we’ve played was San Francisco,” Mora said. “And we lost to them (34-33).”

And, Mora added, the easy stuff’s over. Starting Sunday, the Saints begin a 7-game stretch in which they face the Rams, Washington, the Rams again, Denver, the New York Giants, Minnesota and San Francisco.

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“You don’t like to look past the next game,” Mora said. “But it’s hard not to.”

And what about the Rams? Well, they have beaten a team with a winning record--one. It was the Giants, who would have been 4-4 instead of 5-3 if not for a last-minute rally to beat Atlanta last week.

All things considered, though, Robinson and Mora would rather not be in Detroit.

Mel’s not swell: Linebacker Mel Owens’ sprained ankle is not responding well to treatment, and he probably won’t play Sunday.

Owens injured the ankle in practice before the Atlanta game Oct. 9. He played against the Falcons--though later regretted it--and sat out the San Francisco game a week later. He returned to play Sunday against Seattle, though the injury affected him noticeably.

“He’s complaining of pain up the leg,” Robinson said Wednesday. “And that’s always foreboding news.”

Owens will be replaced by second-year man Larry Kelm.

Ron Brown update: Robinson said he won’t decide whether to activate the receiver and kick returner until later in the week. The Rams’ 2-week roster exemption for Brown ends Monday, at which time the team will have to make a decision on retired-turned-rehired receiver.

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Another thought: The Rams might have second thoughts about bringing Brown back just to return kicks against the Saints and kicker Morton Andersen, who has one of the league’s strongest legs and rarely has kickoffs returned.

“It’s a good point,” Robinson said. “They knock it out of the end zone anyway.”

When Brown is activated, the odd-man out on the roster is seemingly No. 4 receiver, Michael Young.

Happy Anniversary: Next Monday, Halloween night, marks the first anniversary of the 3-team trade that sent tailback Eric Dickerson to the Indianapolis Colts.

Robinson, when asked to assess the trade a year later, quickly broke into a sing-songy verse that could one day land him a job with Hallmark cards:

“Everybody’s happy, everybody’s glad, everybody’s doing good, nobody’s sad.”

Ram Notes

Speaking of Eric Dickerson . . . the former Ram needs 865 yards in his last 8 games to become the first player in NFL history to accumulate 10,000 yards in his first 6 seasons. So who said he wasn’t great? . . . Tailback Greg Bell will experiment with specially designed shoulder pads this week to protect his bruised left shoulder. Bell, who leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns, is listed as probable for Sunday’s game, though Robinson said Bell will split time with Charles White. . . . Cornerback Jerry Gray (shoulder) took the day off Wednesday. . . . There are no immediate plans to activate either fullback Mike Guman or linebacker Jim Collins off injured reserve. Both are former starters coming off knee surgery and both are eligible to return. Guman appears closer to playing that Collins. Of Collins, Robinson said: “We want him to become really confident that he’s OK, to feel good about his football sharpness.” . . . The Rams rank seventh in the NFL in total offense and 11th in defense. . . . Though held sackless against Seattle, Kevin Greene still leads the NFL with 10. Charles Haley of the 49ers is closing in fast at 9.5. The Rams’ Gary Jeter is third with 8.5.

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