RAMS : Greene Says Team Is Playing Like a Million, Offering Much Less

TIMES STAFF WRITER

While the Rams were beating the Kansas City Chiefs in West Berlin Saturday, Kevin Greene was at home in Orange County, watching the exhibition game on television.

Asked what he thought about the Rams' 19-3 victory, the holdout outside linebacker said, "I think the Rams are on their way to the Super Bowl."

But will Greene be with them?

"I don't know," he said.

Greene may like the Rams' performance on the field, but the team's front office is another matter. Greene, who led the team with 16 1/2 sacks last season, said Monday there has been no progress in negotiations with the Rams and no meetings are scheduled between his agent, Marvin Demoff, and team representatives.

Greene, who made $250,000 last season, has reportedly asked for $1 million a year, a figure he believes is commensurate with salaries for the league's best linebackers. The club has reportedly offered $750,000.

Greene hasn't made any trade demands, as defensive tackle Doug Reed and offensive tackle Jackie Slater have, but he appears ready to hold his ground.

"Of course, this is discouraging and frustrating, but it's a game they force you to play," Greene said. "I would have liked to have signed in April, May or June, and it's mid-August now. They want you to play the negotiating game."

How long will Greene play?

"As long as it takes," he said.

Meanwhile, Ram Coach John Robinson says the game will go on, despite the absence of Greene, Slater, Reed, and two other holdouts, Damone Johnson (tight end) and Michael Stewart (safety).

"They were not the topics of conversation last week in Berlin," Robinson said, updating the status of negotiations. "It's interesting, there is a lot of talk about these things, but teams go on.

"It's the same as if they were injured. You just go on. It's part of the game." In Greene's absence, George Bethune, a second-year player from Alabama, started at outside linebacker and had two sacks for a loss of 15 yards Saturday.

"If Bethune continues at his present rate, he'll have 32 sacks this year," Robinson said. "And then he'll hold out next year."

Catch of the day: Saturday's exhibition did little to decide who would be the team's fourth wide receiver, a spot sought by rookies Tim Stallworth from Washington State, Tony Lomack from Florida, Derrick Faison, a free agent from Howard, and Monty Gilbreath, a free agent from San Diego State.

None of the four particularly stood out, although Lomack did make a one-handed catch of Mark Herrmann's 11-yard pass that was thrown behind him in the second quarter.

None of them hurt their chances, either. Faison caught two passes for 30 yards, Lomack caught two for 25 yards, Gilbreath had a 20-yard reception, and Stallworth had a 16-yard reception.

Offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese couldn't recall any dropped passes.

Balls that should have been caught were caught.

"The guys who had a chance to catch the ball did a pretty good job," Zampese said. "But nobody jumped out and said, 'Hey, I'm a receiver and can play in this league.' Nobody separated themselves from the rest."

Stallworth, the highest draft pick (sixth round) among the rookie receivers, is considered the front-runner for the job, but Zampese said that Faison, the biggest wide receiver on the roster at 6 feet 4 and 200 pounds, is gaining fast.

"We didn't know much about him initially, but all of a sudden he has started making the plays," Zampese said. "I couldn't pick a fourth receiver now, but some have moved up on the list, and some who were ahead of the others are not so far ahead anymore. Faison has moved up."

Exhibition games have been notorious for dragging on for 3 1/2 hours or more because of continual substitutions, numerous penalties and often sloppy play from second- and third-stringers.

But Saturday's Rams-Chiefs game was over in 2 hours 34 minutes, a tribute in part to the Rams' play selection and success. Most of their running plays were up the middle and, after several completions, receivers stayed in bounds rather going out of bounds to stop the clock. Another factor is new NFL rules designed to speed up play.

Robinson said the Rams ran 15 fewer plays Saturday than their 1989 average.

Ram Notes

Coach John Robinson praised the play of his offense and defense in Saturday's game but had nothing special to say about the special teams. The Rams missed one of two extra-point attempts and one of three field-goal attempts. They averaged only 36 yards on five punts, and Hank Ilesic, who is battling Kent Elmore for the punting job, strained his left hamstring when he bent over to pick up a low snap in the first quarter. "Our special teams were a joke--not a very funny one," Robinson said. "We would have lost a regular-season game with that kind of performance."

The Rams' flight from Berlin to Los Angeles was delayed five hours in Ireland Sunday because of mechanical problems. What was supposed to have been an 11-hour trip was an 18-hour journey, and the team didn't arrive until about 7 p.m. Sunday. "We may look like mummies, but we're practicing today," Robinson said Monday. . . . The Rams will break training camp at UC Irvine Friday morning, and subsequent practices will be at Rams Park.

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