PRO FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : RAMS : Falcons' Rison Receives a Challenge

Atlanta wide receiver Andre Rison irritated the Rams by guaranteeing, then delivering a victory over them three weeks ago. But heading into Sunday's rematch at Anaheim Stadium, it's Ram free safety Anthony Newman firing the first shot.

"Yeah, he had a big game on us," Newman said in a live TV interview Monday night, "but he didn't come over the middle. I challenge Andre to come over the middle."

Rison ran short sideline patterns in the first meeting, a 31-13 Falcon victory. He caught 12 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

Afterward, Rison hinted that the Rams had put a bounty on him and said cornerback Steve Israel took a cheap shot at him, an accusation Israel denied.

Stay tuned. Rison has a news conference scheduled with L.A. reporters this morning.


Falcon Coach June Jones told Atlanta reporters that the Rams' 16-0 victory over the Chiefs, who had beaten the Falcons two weeks ago, gave his team a wake-up call heading into Sunday.

"The best thing that could happen to our team was the Rams beating Kansas City," Jones said. "This will force use to focus for Sunday. This got our attention."


Wide receiver Flipper Anderson leads the league in yards per reception with a 35.1 average. . . . Examples of the Rams' improved special-teams play this season: The average field position for opponents is the 26-yard line, second in the NFC to Arizona opponents (24.9). Punter Sean Landeta was named the NFC's special teams player of the week after averaging 52.5 yards, tying a Ram single-game record, in Sunday's victory.

In hopes of boosting its special teams, Atlanta cut return man Tony Smith, a 1992 first-round draft pick who had been slowed by a knee injury, and signed former Indianapolis return man Clarence Verdin. . . . The Falcons are tied with Kansas City for the league lead in takeaways with 14. They have 10 interceptions, including four by D.J. Johnson, who intercepted two of Ram quarterback Chris Miller's passes in the teams' first meeting.

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