RAMS : Greene Pays a Visit to Camp, Talks to Robinson

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Linebacker Kevin Greene, still a star without a contract, met Tuesday with Coach John Robinson at Rams Park, but no progress in negotiations was reported.

Greene declined to speak with reporters afterward, saying only that he did not meet with the team's chief negotiator, Jay Zygmunt, who also was in Anaheim on Tuesday.

Robinson, as usual, declined to discuss the details of their private meeting.

"We talked about Saudi Arabia and the capabilities of our tanks," Robinson said jokingly, referring to Greene's position as a captain (inactive) in the Army reserves.

Although some are predicting Greene's holdout might eventually rank among the nastiest in franchise history--along the lines of Henry Ellard, Eric Dickerson, Greg Bell--Robinson doesn't think it will reach that point.

"It's a business thing," Robinson said. "It'll get done."

Greene recently appeared on Todd Donoho's "Monday Night Live" television show, and said he hopes to be in camp within two weeks.

Greene said he deserves to be paid at least $1 million a season, while the Rams are offering $750,000.

In the past two seasons, Greene has recorded more sacks, 33 1/2, than any other NFL player.

Some suggest that Greene's lofty numbers are the result of a defensive system that was, in part, created for him. As a weak-side rusher, Greene is allowed to pursue the quarterback on every down, having fewer responsibilities against the rush and on pass defense.

Robinson, in Greene's defense, said the role is no different than others are playing in the league--Pat Swilling (New Orleans), Tim Harris (Green Bay) and Chris Doleman (Minnesota), for example.

"They come at you all the time," Robinson said. "The system benefits them, too. He's no more a product of the system than the others. Joe Montana is a product of his system."

One reason the Rams moved Jerry Gray to free safety this summer was to take advantage of his field leadership qualities. From that postion, Gray had the vision to roam the field and make big plays.

Quarterbacks would have had to think twice about attacking the team's young cornerbacks because Gray would be there to protect them. Ronnie Lott has played that role for years in San Francisco.

In moving Gray back to left corner, the Rams have taken away from him a large portion of the field. Teams that wish to stay away from Gray can do so by throwing to the opposite corner.

Last year, opponents wisely chose to pick on LeRoy Irvin rather than Gray.

Robinson said he hopes Gray can still provide a leadership spark from the corner.

"The emotional strength of the defense you try to go back to Jerry working with everybody from the outside in," Robinson said. ". . . We'll have him say the same things, he'll just say them louder."

Robinson said the addition of veteran corner Bobby Humphery also makes the team less vulnerable.

"It's a better secondary this year than last," he said.

Thrust into Gray's free safety spot are two unproven players, third-year man Anthony Newman and rookie Pat Terrell.

"I think he has the potential to fill it very well, " Robinson said of Newman. "Pat Terrell does too. They're both athletic, physical and they both have intelligence. I think what they need to develop is a kind of instinctiveness in there. It's almost like a point guard in basketball, or a center fielder in baseball, you got to have a sense of anticipation. And the only way you get that is playing."

Rams Notes

Linebacker Mel Owens was still in bed Tuesday, nursing a sore back. Coach John Robinson, who has had back problems of his own, said the injury involves a bulging disk, which isn't good news. . . . How's this for a defensive line: The Rams will enter Saturday's exhibition with Phoenix without Doug Reed (holdout), Kevin Greene (holdout), Brian Smith (strained knee), nose tackle Sean Smith (ankle sprain), and tackle Jerry Leggett (left foot). . . . Flipper Anderson, who missed last week's game with a hamstring pull, is expected to play this week. . . . Robinson said defensive end Mike Piel, who dislocated his left elbow last season, remains a bit tentative about putting his full weight on the arm. "He tends at times to roll on it," he said. "I think he will come around."

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