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PRO FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : RAMS : Seeking Mann With Pass-Rush Ability

Hoping to upgrade their pass rush, the Rams on Tuesday worked out four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Charles Mann, who is coming off two arthroscopic knee surgeries in the past year.

Senior Vice President Jay Zygmunt is awaiting final results of Mann’s physical and plans to begin negotiations with Mann’s agent, Jack Wirth of Chicago, shortly.

Mann, an 11-year pro who played in three Super Bowls with the Washington Redskins, has worked out for Philadelphia, Houston, San Francisco and the New York Jets, with the Oilers and 49ers showing the most interest. A source close to the situation said if Mann could not strike a deal soon, he planned to retire.

Earlier this week, Mann rejected a one-year deal worth the league-minimum $162,000 from San Francisco.

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“That was ridiculous,” he said. “I want to play every down, and I should be compensated accordingly.”

The Rams have viewed their defensive line--featuring Pro Bowl tackle Sean Gilbert and free-agent acquisition Jimmie Jones--as one of the strengths of the team.

Mann, 6 feet 6 and 270 pounds, would be an insurance policy for Rams’ starting defensive end Fred Stokes, who is rehabilitating a knee ligament he strained in training camp 2 1/2 weeks ago. Signing Mann would give the Rams six defensive ends--starters Robert Young and Gerald Robinson, rookie Brad Ottis, Kevin Patrick and Stokes.

Mann has undergone nine knee operations in his career, including arthroscopic surgery on his left knee early last season. He re-injured it after trying to come back three weeks after surgery, and it was operated on again in February.

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The Redskins released Mann in April after the injuries had reduced his productivity. He had only four sacks in the past two seasons after 78 in his first nine years.

“My knee is about 95% right now,” Mann said. “But after a couple practices, I’ll be at 100%. I’m here showing them I have the p-word--potential.”

Mann also suffered another injury over the weekend, having burned a portion of his face while using a gas grill over the weekend.

“My wife is getting tired of having me home,” Mann said. “And maybe if I wasn’t home, I wouldn’t burn myself on the grill.”

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Have tight ends Troy Drayton and Travis McNeal become forgotten men in the Rams’ offense? Not so, says offensive coordinator Chick Harris, despite the fact that through two exhibition games, the top two tight ends have yet to catch a pass.

“Sure, they haven’t caught a ball, but there have been plays designed to go to them,” Harris said. “Sometimes the reads have taken them someplace else.

“There were all intentions in the world to get the ball to the tight end. We’ve even said, ‘Zero in on the tight end.’ But if a (defender) is standing between him and the quarterback, I’m not going to throw him the ball.”

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Has Harris been disappointed in the play of Drayton, a second-round draft pick last year who complained of being ignored in Ernie Zampese’s system last year?

“I haven’t been disappointed at all,” Harris said. “All last week, Troy caught more balls in practice than he has ever caught here.

“In games, we’ve been knocked off schedule numerous times so far, whether it has been a penalty or something malfunctioned where we haven’t been able to stay on schedule on first downs.”

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Assistant head coach Joe Vitt said the Rams will continue looking at veteran free agents, but the team is not interested in Chuck Cecil, the hard-hitting safety who was released Monday by the Arizona Cardinals. “One of the things we feel very, very good about right now is the safety position,” he said. “We have five safeties who are improving and making plays.” . . . Left guard Bill Schultz practiced with the first-string Tuesday, a day after Chuck Belin replaced longtime starter Tom Newberry at the position. . . . Starting strong safety Deral Boykin, who hurt his neck in a one-car accident early Monday morning in Anaheim Hills, was seen wearing a neck brace after Tuesday’s practice. Boykin sat out practice but is expected to return today, Coach Chuck Knox said. Also sitting out practice were tailback David Lang (knee, hamstring), tailback Johnny Bailey (ankle) and receiver Jermaine Ross (hamstring).


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