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Jerue, Laughlin Keep Busy at Linebacker

August 24, 1986|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

The Rams, desperate to replace the injured Jim Collins, may have finally found a couple of other inside linebackers Saturday night.

Surprise! They already have their own uniforms.

Mark Jerue was the busiest defensive player on the field with 15 tackles (12 unassisted), and Jim Laughlin made the play that set up Mike Lansford's 27-yard field goal that beat the San Diego Chargers, 20-17, 20 seconds into overtime at Anaheim Stadium.

After the Chargers won the toss, Laughlin wrestled a pass from Mark Herrmann away from tight end Kellen Winslow to give the Rams' possession at the Chargers' 10-yard line.

"They had run the play a bunch of times," Lansford said, "hitting Winslow hooking up over the middle, so I just broke on the ball, watching the quarterback. We both had it in our hands, but we fight like that in training camp all the time."

Laughlin came out of the tussle with the football and lurched back four yards to the 10.

"I had missed a couple of tackles," Laughlin said. "I kind of felt like I had to redeem myself. I guess I did."

Laughlin is a seventh-year pro from Ohio State who was cut by the Rams last season and has seen most of his National Football League action on special teams.

Jerue, a fourth-year pro from Ohio State who was cut by the Rams last season and has seen most of his NFL action on special teams.

Jerue, a fourth-year pro from Washington, hasn't been a household name, either, but figures to be more prominent in the coming weeks--at least until Collins recovers from his shoulder injury.

With their Pro Bowl linebacker out indefinitely, the Rams had looked at one of their former players, Howard Carson, who was hoping to return from the United States Football League, but Coach John Robinson apparently was overruled by the front office on that one.

Then this past week they tried their former outside starter, George Andrews, at an inside position, but Andrews told them after one practice that it wouldn't work out.

Jerue, who had two interceptions in earlier practice games, played most of the game Saturday night.

"It felt like it, too," he said. "He (Robinson) finally gave me a break with about five minutes to go.

"I feel so much more comfortable now. I'm willing to take chances, whereas before I was too tight. I just want to keep playing. I'm tired of hearing that they want to go find somebody."

Jerue was particularly pleased with the play of the defense overall.

"(Charger quarterback Dan) Fouts scored only seven points against the first defense, didn't he?" Jerue said. "That's a pretty good offense they have, too."

Jerry Gray, the new left cornerback, was not as pleased with his performance, despite intercepting a pass off Fouts in the third quarter to stop a Charger scoring threat.

Last year's top draft choice from Texas is getting on-the-job training to replace Gary Green, who was forced into premature retirement by a neck injury.

"I made a lot of mistakes out there," Gray said. "I'm still learning. I know my plays, and once I feel comfortable with it I can let my talent take over. But right now I'm pretty far from that."

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