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Careers Are Over for Green and Harris : Injuries on Defense Have Rams Searching for Replacements

August 21, 1986|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

Injuries have ended the football careers of Gary Green and Eric Harris.

The Rams announced Wednesday that they had waived Green and Harris through the "failed physical" process.

Green, a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback, reported to training camp this summer with a bulging disc in his neck, and his condition has not improved. Harris, who played cornerback and safety, has been unable to play since injuring his lower back in the eighth game last season.

Both came to the Rams in trades from the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Rams' action is the first step for Green to collect on the policy insuring the last two years of his contract that calls for $350,000 this year and $400,000 in '87.

"They aren't going to play football anymore," Robinson said.

But the Rams' defensive problems aren't limited to the backfield. Linebacker is another position that has the team scrambling for healthy bodies.

With linebacker Jim Collins' future in doubt, the Rams tried to give linebacker George Andrews an inside job Wednesday, but he tried it and didn't like it.

Andrews started at right outside linebacker for 47 consecutive games until sustaining knee injuries that required major surgery the past two years--the left knee in '84, the right in '85.

Mike Wilcher replaced Andrews last season and has become a fixture at the position, so Coach John Robinson hoped that Andrews, 30, might fill a need inside rather than be wasted on the bench.

But after practicing inside for the first time Wednesday, Andrews approached defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur.

"I already told him I didn't think it was going to work out," Andrews said as he left the field. "I've played outside for so long, then coming back after two years of not playing and having the pressure of not knowing what you're doing is too much."

Collins injured a nerve in his left shoulder in the Pro Bowl last January. As a result, the deltoid muscle has atrophied and he is not expected to return soon.

Mark Jerue, never a starter in three previous seasons with the Jets, Colts and Rams, has been playing Collins' inside position alongside 31-year-old Carl Ekern, and there are no experienced backups. Which is why Robinson had hoped Andrews might be able to make the move.

"I don't think (Andrews) is a prime candidate for special teams," Robinson said. "He played some inside the year before I got here (1982). I remember watching film of him."

Ekern calls the defensive signals, but Jerue has done it when Ekern was not on the field.

But Shurmur seems to have confidence in Jerue, who came to the Rams from the Colts in 1983. As Robinson talked to reporters, Shurmur walked by.

Robinson asked him: "Fritz, if you lost Ekern, who would be the best signal caller--George (Andrews) or Jerue?"

"Jerue," Shurmur replied immediately, "because he's done it."

Robinson explained that the responsibility involves more than simply repeating the hand signals from the sideline.

"The (basic) defense is flashed in," Robinson said, "but the adjustment isn't . . . so much of the game is based on formations. Before the ball's snapped, it's more complicated than playing quarterback . . .

"Our defense depends on intelligence."

Shurmur said he is prepared to open the season with Jerue in Collins' spot.

"We're not at all worried about that," Shurmur said. "He's just fine and getting better every day. He's improved his pass coverage a lot. The 'backers have two interceptions (in the two practice games) and he's got both of 'em."

Eric Dickerson's thoughts on Herschel Walker joining Tony Dorsett in the Dallas Cowboys' backfield:

"Who's gonna block? Herschel's not gonna block. Dorsett's not gonna block.

"I'll say this, too: He'll find he can't run over the guys in the NFL like he did in the USFL. He's gonna have to make some adjustments, as we all did."

The heat wave was awaiting the Rams when they returned to Rams Park from training camp Wednesday.

"I think it's good," Robinson said, "because everybody believes it's gonna be hot in St. Louis (for the Sept. 7 opener)."

Ram Notes

There were no surprises when the Rams finally announced Wednesday the players they had cut Tuesday to reduce their roster to the NFL maximum of 60. Released were tight end James McDonald, USC; wide receiver David Groman, Northwestern; kicker Steve Jordan, USC; running back John Kamana, USC; nose tackle Chris Pacheco, Fresno State; safety Mark Pembrook, Cal State Fullerton; wide receiver Austin Shanks, San Diego State; tackle Mike Shiner, Notre Dame; running back William Stone, Adams State, and running back Lynn Williams, Kansas.

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