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Gary Reprises His Role of No-Show at Minicamp

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Rams’ minicamp roll call Friday was a long one, with one noticeable omission.

Defensive end Robert Young? Check.

Linebacker Roman Phifer? He’s here.

Tailback Cleveland Gary? A no-show, again.

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Gary, a contract holdout for most of training camp last summer, didn’t participate in the Rams’ minicamp workouts, which began Friday and continue through Sunday.

“He had indicated last week that he would be here,” Ram Coach Chuck Knox said. “But we want to dwell on the people who are here.

“We have a number of unsigned players here, and they realize the importance of this camp.”

Unsigned players such as Gary aren’t required to attend minicamp, but several of his teammates signed a waiver agreeing to join workouts. Among them were three restricted free agents--Young, Phifer and Bailey--and offensive tackle Jackie Slater, an unrestricted free agent who has come to terms on a one-year deal but has yet to sign a contract.

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“It’s a done deal,” Slater said. “I expect to sign sometime this week.”

Gary worked out at Pittsburgh last week, but he won’t be able to sign with the Steelers because the fine print of his contract limits his options to that of a restricted free agent, and the April 18 for extending offer sheets has passed. That leaves Gary with two options--sign with the Rams or sit out.

Gary and his agent, Jordan Woy, couldn’t be reached for comment.

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Young, who says he is recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery last season, considered skipping camp while his agent, Steve Feldman, continues contract negotiations with the team.

“There was a little question about whether or not I would (participate),” Young said. “But I talked to the coaches and we thought it was a good idea. I’m only going through drills, and I’m holding out of the serious stuff because I don’t want to get injured and hurt my bargaining power.”

Pittsburgh had showed some interest in Young during the restricted free-agent signing period, but the deadline passed without him signing an offer sheet.

Feldman said the Young’s minicamp workout was a “goodwill gesture” in contract negotiations.

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“The organization has made it clear that it wants him,” Feldman said. “He has an agreement with the coaches that if there is any drill during minicamp that he feels isn’t safe, he can step out and not participate.”

Young was optimistic that a deal could be done as early as the end of camp. He earned a league-minimum $150,000 last season and is looking for a raise that could make him a millionaire.

Young had seven sacks in the first four games last season before injuring his knee in Week 5 against New Orleans. He said the knee “feels great” after Friday morning’s workouts.

“So far, so good,” he said.

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Medical report: Backup tailback David Lang, who underwent arthroscopic surgery last week, lifted weights Friday but did not participate in workouts.

Wide receiver and punt return specialist Todd Kinchen attended minicamp but participated only in light receiving drills because he’s still recovering from surgery on his left knee last season.

“It should be healed by training camp,” he said.

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