If Coach Chuck Knox came to the Rams hoping to fashion a dominant rushing offense for 1992, he has given up now.
Knox, who has lived up to his nickname “Ground Chuck” for most of the 19 years he has been an NFL head coach, said the Rams would be a one-back, pass-dominated offense, and had shaped their roster to fit that.
“We have focused the strength of our offense,” Knox said. “We have a quarterback--a proven, bona fide quarterback. We have some strength at the wide receiver position. And we have some quality and strength at the tight end position. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
But offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese cautions that the turn to a one-back set doesn’t mean the Rams won’t run the ball at all. “You have to be able to run the football some,” Zampese said.
As of Tuesday evening, the Rams had not announced their final 47-man roster or the composition of their practice squad.
Rookie guard Shawn Harper underwent arthroscopic knee surgery recently and is expected to be put on the injured-reserve list, freeing up a roster spot for strong safety Michael Stewart, who has a roster exemption but is expected to be activated in time for the Rams’ regular-season opener in Buffalo.
The Rams also are considering a move to open a spot for rookie cornerback Steve Israel, who also has a roster exemption. That could mean putting rookie tackle Darryl Ashmore, listed as out for the Bills’ game because of a knee injury, on the injured list.
The rest of the injury report: starting right defensive end Bill Hawkins (calf), doubtful; starting left defensive end Robert Young (shoulder), questionable; defensive end Gerald Robinson (knee), probable.
Knox said he expected to sign the maximum five players to the team’s practice squad, which will be announced today.
The Rams acquired the waiver-wire rights to three recently cut players, according to league sources, although it was not clear if they would add all three to their 47-man roster.
The Rams claimed running back Troy Stradford, cut Monday by the Kansas City Chiefs, and linebackers Eric Fairs from the Buffalo Bills and Scott Stephen from the Green Bay Packers.
Stradford, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins before joining the Chiefs last season, almost certainly will be kept as the Rams’ fifth running back. Stradford was used as a receiver most of last season. He caught nine passes and carried only one time.
It is possible, but not probable, the Rams would add both Fairs and Stephen, because the team kept only five linebackers on its Monday roster.
Stephen, entering his sixth year, has started the past two seasons as Green Bay’s strongside linebacker. Fairs, who signed with Buffalo from Houston this off-season in Plan B, has mainly been a special teams player.
Because teams put in claims for players without knowing which ones they will acquire, they are given a day to rescind claims if they get the rights to more players than they wanted.