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Rams Collapse Before Patriots : Pro football: Weak offensive line makes it a miserable night for Los Angeles quarterbacks as New England wins, 28-10, in Anaheim.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

All overweight truck drivers are urged to contact the Rams for immediate employment opportunities.

It’s either that, or the Rams stay with their present collection of offensive linemen and quarterback Chris Miller’s career with the team comes to a crashing conclusion.

The Rams, who were 28-10 losers to the New England Patriots in Saturday night’s exhibition game at Anaheim Stadium, were at their best in front of a crowd of 24,847 only when Miller was allowed time to perform.

Miller, who came here marked fragile after a pair of operations on his left knee, was smacked twice on his initial attempt to pass in his Ram debut.

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Tackle Darryl Ashmore, who took out teammate Deral Boykin earlier in the week by whacking him in the head with his own helmet, failed to protect Miller on his first three passes.

“We just can’t allow this to happen; we know we’re a better pass protection team than that,” said Ashmore, who has replaced Jackie Slater in the starting lineup. “We have some things to work on.”

After being sacked, Miller completed his first pass on the run for four yards and then was sent scrambling to the sideline for a one-yard gain.

“It felt good to get hit,” said Miller, who hadn’t played in a game since being injured last September. “We’ve got a lot of work to do on protection, but we’ll get those things taken care of.”

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Before rookie tackle Wayne Gandy checked into the game, further jeopardizing Miller’s livelihood, he began mixing short passes with handoffs to Jerome Bettis.

Bettis ran effectively, Miller completed five passes without an incompletion for 51 yards and the Rams marched 80 yards in 16 plays to score.

Bettis went the final yard to finish an 11:08 drive and establish a 7-0 lead. Time to take out Miller.

“I’m always concerned about the quarterbacks getting hit,” Coach Chuck Knox said. “Chris Miller got hit early on and Chris Chandler got spun to the ground. We must do a better job there.”

After Miller’s departure, the Rams collapsed and dropped their seventh consecutive exhibition game since 1992.

Chandler and Jamie Martin took a beating, Gandy was penalized four times for lining up illegally, the offensive line was caught for holding five times and the first-defensive unit allowed a pair of touchdowns prior to the half.

Gandy’s penchant for drawing penalties for the same mistake had the small crowd hooting in the second quarter. The Rams had passed on selecting quarterback Trent Dilfer in the first round of the draft to take Gandy, and now it’s obvious what lesson he missed after opting to sleep in rather than practice after signing a $5 million contract.

A new rule allows offensive linemen to line up off the line of scrimmage so long as their helmet remains even with the center’s belt buckle. Either center Bern Brostek starts sucking in his tummy, or Gandy pays closer attention to what’s going on.

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“It’s a thing with my stance,” Gandy said. “I guess the refs see it as a problem. Maybe I just have to change my stance.”

Said Knox: “We had way too many penalties to give ourselves a chance to win the football game. They were the type of penalties you shouldn’t have. We just shot ourselves in the foot.”

Running back David Lang contributed to the onslaught of errors with a fumble at the Ram 37-yard line midway through the second quarter. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe immediately went in search of cornerback Todd Lyght, found him and completed a 37-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Timpson.

Lyght, who gave up a touchdown in last week’s 14-6 loss to Green Bay, was also beaten for the Patriots’ second score with 46 seconds remaining in the half. Bledsoe fired a four-yard fastball to wide receiver Vincent Brisby for a 14-7 lead.

The Rams made it 14-10 on the final play of the half with Tony Zendejas’ 41-yard field goal.

Bledsoe took advantage of the Rams’ No. 2 defense in the third quarter. He moved his team 51 yards in six plays and had running back Kevin Turner run one yard for a 21-10 lead.

New England third-string quarterback Scott Zolak completed the scoring with a three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Richard Griffith in the fourth quarter.

Ram Notes

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Team doctors met with quarterback T.J. Rubley prior to the game and advised him to rest his sore arm for two more weeks, which doesn’t bode well for his future with the team. The Rams will have to cut their roster from 80 to 53 players without seeing Rubley in action. If they elect to place him on injured reserve he will be unable to practice or play the remainder of the year. . . . Linebacker Willie McGinest, the Patriots’ first-round pick from USC, did not make the trip to Anaheim because of a hamstring injury.


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