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Rubley Is Thrown for a Loss by Injury : Football: Ram quarterback’s throwing arm is in constant pain, his hand is badly swollen and he is worried about his future.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The pain is a constant reminder to quarterback T.J. Rubley that he no longer controls his future with the Rams.

The Rams said he had a sore arm, but their announcement about 10 days ago omitted the agonizing details. Rubley’s throwing arm has been throbbing since March, and when he fully extends it, the elbow makes a stomach-turning pop. The nerves leading from elbow to hand make simple tasks such as opening a door or shaking hands a challenge.

His right hand is covered with red blotches and so swollen that he has trouble holding a football.

“The tips of my fingers feel like they are scarred,” Rubley said. “It’s like a pitcher trying to throw a curveball and he can’t feel the seams.”

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Team doctors have discussed surgery, but for the time being have advised rest and medication to reduce inflammation. There has been little improvement in the past 10 days, however.

“There’s nothing I can do,” Rubley said. “I’m very scared. I’m not scared of too many things, but the thought of being wheeled down that hall and undergoing surgery is tough for me.”

Despite his fear, an impatient Rubley asked the doctors last week to operate on his arm so that he could return to work. They suggested more rest, however, and so he waits.

“In my mind, I think something is going to have to be corrected in my arm,” Rubley said. “They’ve talked about shaving this bone in my elbow to take the pressure off a nerve, and if they do that they said it would be eight weeks before I could begin throwing competitively again.

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“The inflammation is down some, but the progress just isn’t there, and it still hurts. . . . I’m just trying to hold the ball without dropping it. . . . They ask me every day how it feels, and I want to lie and tell them it’s fine, but they’re going to see it as soon as I throw.”

Rubley kept his sore arm a secret for months, and as a result almost played himself off the team. His performance in minicamp was dreadful, prompting Coach Chuck Knox to summon him to his office.

“He said I wasn’t throwing well to my left or throwing the ball as well as I was capable of,” Rubley said. “I agreed.”

Rubley, who is known for spending more off-season workout time at Rams Park than any other player on the roster, did not tell Knox about his sore arm. Instead, he worked harder and his arm suffered.

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“There was just something wrong with him, and yet he never said anything,” said Mike Martz, Ram quarterback coach. “T.J. is a guy who is going to try and suck it up. If his arm hurts, he’s going to think, ‘I just need to throw more balls.’

“He was trying to jump on throws with his body where he hadn’t done that before. I couldn’t figure out why, and so I thought he was pressing because of the competition for a job. Now it’s understandable why he was playing the way he was.”

Rubley, who is battling with Jamie Martin for the No. 3 spot behind Chris Miller and Chris Chandler, made it through the first week of training camp, gritting his teeth, but this wasn’t the same T.J. Rubley who had played so well as the Rams’ starting quarterback at the end of last season.

“I was making all kinds of adjustments,” he said. “I was twisting my shoulders and then I was throwing the ball like a screwball to avoid the pain. There were times when my hand wouldn’t sweat, and that really kind of scared me. The ball felt like an ice cube.”

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This year’s audition for steady employment with the Rams will soon be over, and Rubley said: “To stand there and be just a ballboy is awfully tough. I love the game and this is something I just love to do, but I can’t do it now.”


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