SEASON PREVIEW: RAMS ’91 : PLAYER PROFILES
FLIPPER ANDERSON: 83 Fourth Year; Wide Receiver; UCLA “Tremendous deep threat,” the Ram press guide says. Fifteen catches for an NFL record 336 yards vs. New Orleans in 1989 show just how tremendous he can be. Has led league in yards per catch in each of past two seasons, 26.0 in 1989 and 21.5 in 1990. Had 51 catches, 1,097 yards, four TDs in ’90. ROBERT BAILEY: 28 Rookie; Cornerback; Miami (Fla.) Became a starter for the Hurricanes as a senior after three years as a backup. Was drafted in the fourth round (107th overall) by the Rams. Started every game in 1990 and finished with 75 tackles, including 15 against Notre Dame and eight against Florida State. BERN BROSTEK: 61 Second Year; Guard/Center; Washington A 300-pounder who played in 16 games as a rookie (first-round draft pick) in 1990, with two starts. Backed up both center and guard but expected to start at guard in 1991. Voted team rookie of the year by Orange County Sportswriters Assn. Played goal-line defense vs. Giants. PAUL BUTCHER: 59 Fifth Year; Linebacker; Wayne State Aggressive outside linebacker and special teams player who was called on to fill in at various spots in the team’s injury-riddled defense last year. Got first NFL start in season finale at New Orleans. Had seven tackles, six solo, at Chicago. Was Detroit’s special teams MVP in both ’87 and ’88. PAT CARTER: 88 Fourth Year; Tight End; Florida State Opened as team’s 1990 starter before the signing of Damone Johnson. Caught eight passes for 58 yards, with a long gain of 16 yards, while playing in 16 games (four starts). Also played on kickoff units, making three tackles. Acquired from Detroit for fourth-round draft choice just before 1989 season. AARON COX: 84 Fourth Year; Wide Receiver; Arizona State A 1988 first-round pick prevented from living up to Rams’ expectations because of injuries, particularly to hamstrings. Caught at least one pass in each of 14 games in which he played last season, but playing was a week-to-week problem. Finished with 17 catches and 266 yards. TERRY CREWS: 60 Rookie; Linebacker; Western Michigan A college defensive end who was dubbed a “Super Sleeper” selection by the Poor Man’s Guide to the NFL Draft. Quickness will help him as he tries to make the adjustment to outside linebacker. The Rams’ final draft pick (11th round) will likely be on developmental squad. ROBERT DELPINO: 39 Fourth Year; Fullback; Missouri Others command the spotlight in the Ram backfield; Delpino can simply be expected to line up and help out wherever he’s needed. Had 613 all-purpose yards in 1990, 52 rushing, 172 receiving and 389 on kickoff returns (with a 19.5-yard average). Played on virtually every special teams unit. MARCUS DUPREE: 22 Second Year; Running Back; Southern Mississippi Trying to complete a miraculous comeback. After sitting out four years following a knee injury in the USFL in 1985, returned to football last season. Considered a can’t-miss NFL prospect as an Oklahoma freshman, then transferred to Southern Mississippi and never played college football again. HENRY ELLARD: 80 Ninth Year; Wide Receiver; Fresno State The most prolific pass-catcher in team history, passed Tom Fears’ team career reception record and Elroy Hirsch’s team career yardage record last season. Has 421 catches for 7,037 yards (16.7-yard average). Finished 1990 with his third-best NFL season: 76 catches for 1,294 yards and four TDs. JIM EVERETT: 11 Sixth Year; Quarterback; Purdue Considered to be among the NFL’s elite, has passed for more yards (12,263) in the past three years than any other league quarterback. Threw for 3,989 yards with 23 touchdowns and 17 interceptions last season, earning him a Pro Bowl berth, but rating of 79.3 was his lowest in three years. BRETT FARYNIARZ: 51 Fourth Year; Linebacker; San Diego State Played as outside backup in 13 of 16 games last season, started the other three. Wound up with 23 tackles (all unassisted) with two sacks, two passes defensed and one forced fumble (during a sack of Joe Montana). Had three sacks and recovered two fumbles in 1989 against N.Y. Jets. NEAL FORT: 73 Rookie; Offensive Tackle; Brigham Young Big, strong player who learned the art of protecting the quarterback while starting two complete seasons at left tackle with the pass-happy Cougars and Ty Detmer. Was first-team All-WAC pick as senior. Selected in sixth round, will likely open season on developmental squad. CLEVELAND GARY: 43 Third Year; Running Back; Miami (Fla.) Has plenty of talent, but in 1990 also had plenty of fumbles: 12, with seven lost. Led team in rushing with 808 yards on 204 carries and scored 14 rushing touchdowns, tied for NFL lead. Also caught 163 yards worth of passes with a touchdown. Topped 100 yards rushing twice. JERRY GRAY: 25 Seventh Year; Cornerback; Texas Hoping for a better start this season than last, when he injured a knee in the final preseason game and went onto the injured reserve list for four weeks. That broke a string of 60 consecutive starts, but he returned to start 12 of the final 13 games. Had been to Pro Bowl the previous four years. KEVIN GREENE: 91 Seventh Year; Defensive End; Auburn Defensive co-captain will now attempt to terrorize quarterbacks as a defensive end after becoming one of the league’s best sackers as linebacker. Has most sacks in NFL over the past three seasons (46) since becoming a starter in 1988. Had 61 tackles (52 unassisted) last season. DALE HATCHER: 5 Sixth Year; Punter; Clemson Is back for his second time with the Rams after sitting out all of last season after his Plan B acquisition, and subsequent release, by Green Bay. Averaged 40.4 yards in the previous five seasons with Los Angeles. Earned a Pro Bowl berth with a 43.2-yard average as a rookie in 1985. BILL HAWKINS: 70 Third Year; Defensive End; Miami (Fla.) Injuries and an incompatible defensive style reduced contributions in his first two seasons. Rams hope their top draft pick in 1989 will be more comfortable in the new attacking style. Had just nine tackles (seven unassisted) last season, mostly in passing situations, but three were sacks. DARRYL HENLEY: 20 Third Year; Cornerback; UCLA Missed all of training camp and seven weeks of 1990 season with an abdominal strain but came back to play in nine games, including six starts at right cornerback. Finished with 27 tackles, seven passes defensed and one interception. Led team with a 10.3-yard average on 19 punt returns. ROBERT JENKINS: 72 Sixth Year; Offensive Tackle; UCLA Changed name from Robert Cox. His job is to provide a veteran, reliable backup at both tackle spots. Played in 11 games in 1990, all as a backup. Will certainly see extensive action early in the season with Gerald Perry having injury trouble and Irv Pankey status up in the air. DAMONE JOHNSON: 86 Seventh Year; Tight End; Cal Poly SLO Has been regular starter for most of past three seasons. Started all 16 games in 1988 and 1989 and nine of 13 last season after holding out through training camp and the regular-season opener. Best season was 1988: 42 catches, 350 yards, 6 TDs. Had 12 catches for 66 yards and 3 TDs in ’90. LARRY KELM: 52 Fifth Year; Linebacker; Texas A&M; Began his second consecutive season on injured reserve after a tearing a knee ligament in the final exhibition of 1990 but came back to play in 11 games, starting 10, and making 48 tackles. Had season-high 10 tackles against the Giants in November. Will play in middle of new 4-3 alignment. DAVID LANG: 38 Rookie; Running Back; Northern Arizona Was the Rams’ 12-round draft pick in 1990 but went unsigned because of problems that led to time spent in jail. Led college team in both rushing (521 yards on 94 carries) and receiving (447 yards on 41 catches) as a senior. Attended Eisenhower High in San Bernardino. SAMMY LILLY: 27 Third Year; Cornerback; Georgia Tech Came to Rams through Plan B after he was unprotected by San Diego. Acquired by Chargers in 1990 when he was released after eight games by Philadelphia, where he played for new Ram defensive coordinator Jeff Fisher for parts of two seasons. Most NFL experience on special teams. DUVAL LOVE: 67 Seventh Year; Offensive Guard; UCLA Considered durable and versatile, has played in 30 consecutive games and started 17 in a row. Was 16-game starter last season, 15 at right guard. Attended Fountain Valley High School, lettering all four years, then went on to become a three-year starter at UCLA. TODD LYGHT: 41 Rookie; Cornerback; Notre Dame Selected to at least two All-American first teams in both his junior and senior years and considered the top cornerback in the draft by the Rams, who selected him fifth overall. Best year was as a junior, when he was a consensus All-American after intercepting eight passes. MIKE MCDONALD: 90 Seventh Year; Linebacker/snapper; USC Has parlayed his ability as a long snapper and special teams player into an on-and-off NFL career that began when the Rams signed him to deep snap for the 1983 playoffs after Doug Barnett was injured in the final regular-season game. He was studying to be a firefighter at the time. BUFORD MCGEE: 24 Eighth Year; Fullback; Mississippi Outstanding role player named team MVP in one vote last season. Rushed 44 times for 234 yards and caught 47 passes for 388 yards last season, scoring five touchdowns. Winner of award named after late Ram linebacker Carl Ekern, given for sportsmanship, ethics and commitment to teammates. JOE MILINICHIK: 71 Fifth Year; Offensive Guard; North Carolina State Started 15 games for Detroit in 1988 but only one in 1989 after the Lions’ conversion to the run-and-shoot. Picked up as a Plan B free agent before the 1990 season and appeared in eight games as backup and special teams player for the Rams. Will compete for starting right guard spot. TOM NEWBERRY: 66 Sixth Year; Center; Wisconsin Lacrosse Considered to be one of the league’s best linemen, two-time Pro Bowl player at left guard will switch to center. Had started 73 consecutive games before sitting out season finale against New Orleans with a sprained ankle last season. A second-round pick in 1986, he started as a rookie. ANTHONY NEWMAN: 26 Fourth Year; Safety; Oregon Versatile athlete can play safety or cornerback but has spent camp competing with Michael Stewart to start at strong safety. Was starting free safety at beginning of last season but was replaced by Stewart after six games. Finished with 47 tackles and two interceptions. MIKE PAGEL: 14 10th Year; Quarterback; Arizona State Signed this spring to give Rams insurance at quarterback and has played well enough in the preseason to challenge for the main backup spot. Was released in a Cleveland youth movement but has recently started games for both the Colts and the Browns. Will be kick-holder. IRV PANKEY: 75 12th Year; Offensive Tackle; Penn State Starter in 27 consecutive games is considered one of the most consistent and durable linemen in the NFL, but Ram career was seriously jeopardized by a camp-long holdout. Only fellow offensive linemen Jackie Slater and Doug Smith have been with team longer. Has 144 career games, 117 starts. GERALD PERRY: 64 Fourth Year; Offensive Tackle; Southern A big (305 pounds) lineman considered to have great potential but has been hampered by scrapes with the law and spent time in jail this summer. Acquired in a draft-day trade with Denver and expected to compete for a job as a starting left tackle, but knee problems kept him out of exhibitions. ROMAN PHIFER: 58 Rookie; Linebacker; UCLA Second-round draft selection has already had a big impact and is expected to start at the right-side linebacker position. Considered an underrated player who came on his senior year and was named first-team All-Pac 10. Finished with 71 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions. MIKE PIEL: 95 Fourth Year; Defensive Tackle; Illinois Expected to make a big contribution in new defensive scheme. Finished second on the team with five sacks for 26 yards in 1990 and had 33 total tackles while starting 11 games. Played just one season of football at El Toro High but was named to the all-conference team. JIM PRICE: 87 First Year; Tight End; Stanford Free agent spent the 1990 season on the Rams’ developmental squad. Known more for his receiving ability than his blocking, expected to fill some of the void left by the departure, under Plan B, of sure-handed H-back Pete Holohan. GERALD ROBINSON: 97 Fourth Year; Defensive End; Auburn A first-round draft choice by Minnesota in 1986, showed signs of great potential in 1986 but then suffered a series of injury setbacks. Spent most of 1987, all of 1988 and most of 1989 (with San Diego) on injured reserve with knee problems. Acquired from Chargers through Plan B. GLENELL SANDERS: 55 Second Year; Linebacker; Louisiana Tech Acquired as Plan B free agent from Chicago, which played him in two games last season; he earned the game ball in one, for his special teams effort against Tampa Bay. Will work mostly on special teams and as a backup in the middle linebacker spot for the Rams. JACKIE SLATER: 78 16th Year; Offensive Tackle; Jackson State Will make history when he lines up for the Rams’ opener, becoming the only player in team history to compete in 16 seasons. Holds team record for games played at 209, 166 of them starts. Missed 1990 season opener but came back to earn sixth consecutive Pro Bowl spot and seventh in eight seasons. DOUG SMITH: 56 14th Year; Center; Bowling Green His string of 76 consecutive starts is the longest of any Ram, but current plans have him penciled in as a backup and tutor for new center Tom Newberry. Named to sixth consecutive Pro Bowl in 1989. He and Slater are only remaining members of the Rams’ 1979 Super Bowl season. FRANK STAMS: 50 Third Year; Linebacker; Notre Dame Stepped up when injuries decimated the Rams’ linebacking corps last season and became one of the team’s best. Finished second on the team, first among linebackers, in tackles with 78 and led Rams in four games. Coming off arthroscopic surgery on right knee Dec. 20. Will back up in middle. MICHAEL STEWART: 23 Fifth Year; Safety; Fresno State A hard-hitting type expected to be right at home at strong safety in new defensive coordinator Jeff Fisher’s setup. Had 52 tackles last season, forced three fumbles and made two fumble recoveries. Also played on special teams. Started no fewer than 10 games in each of the past three seasons. FRED STRICKLAND: 53 Fourth Year; Linebacker; Purdue Expected to do well playing outside in the 4-3 alignment. Began 1990 as a starter and registered 25 tackles in five games (fourth on the team) before fracturing his left leg in a game against the Chicago Bears. He spent the rest of the season on injured reserve. MOSI TATUPU: 44 14th Year; Fullback; USC Reunited with John Robinson, his college coach for four years, after spending 13 seasons with New England. Played in 194 games and rushed for 2,415 yards for the Patriots, both second in team history. Known as a great special teams player and tremendous blocking back. PAT TERRELL: 37 Second Year; Safety; Notre Dame Expected to be starting free safety after becoming one of just three rookies to make the Rams’ 1990 roster. Coaches like his hitting ability and instincts. Intercepted a Joe Montana pass in upset of 49ers at San Francisco last season. Named to Football News all-rookie team. RODNEY THOMAS: 21 Fourth Year; Cornerback; Brigham Young Acquired through Plan B from the Miami Dolphins to add depth to the secondary. Appeared in 15 regular-season games and one playoff game for Miami last season, playing mostly in nickel situations. Had ankle, knee and thigh problems during preseason, limiting his development. KARL WILSON: 77 Fifth Year; Defensive End; Louisiana State Another Plan B acquisition from the Dolphins, sought by a number of teams because of his age (26) and pass-rushing ability. Also played for San Diego (1987-88) and Phoenix (1989). Had four sacks for 27 yards during 1990 regular season and one sack at Buffalo during playoffs. ALVIN WRIGHT: 99 Sixth Year; Defensive Tackle; Jacksonville State Has started 48 consecutive games, every game in each of the past three seasons. Finished third on the team in tackles (68, leading team defensive linemen for third year in a row) and recorded one sack. Considered solid and consistent, if not a player who will grab headlines. ROBERT YOUNG: 76 Rookie; Defensive Tackle; Mississippi State Height (6 feet 6) and quickness helped to make fifth-round draft pick an effective pass-rusher in college. Had 21 sacks for Bulldogs, including 10 his junior year. Played a regular role in his team’s defense from his first year, when he was named to SEC all-freshman team. TONY ZENDEJAS: 10 Seventh Year; Kicker; Nevada (Reno) Member of the kicking Zendejas family will take over for popular Mike Lansford. Cousins Luis, Joaquin and Max all kicked in the NFL; brother Martin and cousin Alan kicked in college. Acquired from Houston through Plan B. Enters 1991 13th on NFL all-time field goal percentage list at .711.