Former Aztec Hopes Role-Playing Helps Him Get Into Act for Chargers

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Richard Brown, the former San Diego State and Ram linebacker, was in a hurry Tuesday afternoon, with little time to eat lunch, less to talk.

He had some routine but important business to take care of on the fifth day of his first Charger training camp.

"I've got to go to a meeting," he said, hurrying to conclude a brief post-lunch interview at UC San Diego. "I need a job."

He needs it now more than ever. Brown and his wife, Heather, recently became the parents of their first child. Bianca is now 3 1/2 months.

Her birth came seven weeks before Brown signed a free-agent contract with the Chargers.

"My wife needs the money; my baby needs the money," Brown said. "I really need this job."

His chances, like those of any free agent, might be slight. But Brown is showing he is willing to do anything--play linebacker, be a hit man on special teams, even try long snapping. His eagerness and willingness were evident Tuesday afternoon, when he was about the last player off the practice field.

"He certainly has the temperament to play special teams," said Larry Pasquale, the Chargers' new special teams coach. "He has the intensity and the enthusiasm. He realizes how special teams can help a team."

That was his main role in parts of three seasons with the Rams, where he had a here-today, gone-tomorrow, back-the-next-day, gone-again kind of career.

Signed as a free agent after his senior season at SDSU, where he helped lead the Aztecs to their only Western Athletic Conference championship and the 1986 Holiday Bowl, he started the season on injured reserve with a hamstring problem. But he returned to play the final eight games on special teams.

The next season, an off-season leg injury slowed his conditioning. He was released by the Rams in the final training camp cut-down and spent the year working in the service department of his father-in-law's scale business.

He re-signed with the Rams last season and, when injuries left the team short at linebacker, Brown started two early games. But again found himself out of a job when he was waived before the final three games.

Brown, 6-feet-3 and 240 pounds, said he was considering signing with the Rams again in mid-May when the Chargers called and offered him a contract. Rather than return to a team that already had cut him twice, Brown opted for the change.

"That was the whole reason I wanted to leave," Brown said. "I didn't know where I was going to be the next day. My relationship was real blurry. I didn't know what they wanted me to do."

His role with the Chargers is a little clearer.

With first-round draft choice Junior Seau holding out, Brown is being tried at inside linebacker, although he said the team signed him to play outside. But playing linebacker is probably secondary to the team's real need--help on special teams.

And when he was healthy, Brown was one of the Rams' best. He led them with 13 special teams tackles last season.

"I guess you could say I'm a role player," Brown said. "That's basically what I'm here for. They don't have any plans for me as a starter, just as a backup. But if anything happens, I can start."

Brown said he is glad to be with the Chargers, but is quick to say he thinks the Rams gave up on him too quickly.

"I'm thankful they gave me a chance to play the last three years," Brown said, "but if they would have paid more attention to me, they could have polished up the diamond that they had."

Charger Notes

Final tests on rookie offensive tackle Leo Goeas showed a fracture of his left foot but no tendon damage, Coach Dan Henning said. That means after initial fears that Goeas, the team's second of three third-round draft choices, would be lost for the season, there is a chance he could return in as early as six to eight weeks. But Henning said he will have to wait and see how Goeas progresses before making any decision about whether he will be play this season. . . . Henning said Mark Vlasic and rookie John Friesz will split the quarterback work in a scrimmage Thursday against the Rams. The work will be Vlasic's first against another team since he injured his knee in the 12th week of the 1988 season against the Rams. He spent last season on the physically unable to perform list. "We need to see Vlasic in some live action," Henning said. "He needs it, and certainly Friesz needs it. How much Friesz gets after that will depend upon how well he does in that and how much Vlasic gets will depend on that." Henning said the team's other two quarterbacks, Billy Joe Tolliver and David Archer, likely will be used only in drills. The scrimmage will be held at 7 p.m. at Capistrano Valley High School and will run between 36 and 60 plays, Henning said. . . . Wide receiver Wayne Walker strained his knee in practice and was expected to miss at least one day, Henning said.

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