The man with just about everything--an Olympic gold medal, the title of fastest man in the National Football League, a tire dealership in Anaheim--had a career-high 25 receptions last season playing with a bone chip in his right wrist. Still, he has yet to become the consistent deep threat the Rams are hoping he will. He averaged 15.8 yards per reception and had three touchdowns. Brown's performance as a deep receiver could be critical to the success of offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese's new offense, which adds emphasis to the passing game. Brown remains one of the league's top kick returners, though last seasons statistics were down (22.1 yards per return, no touchdowns) in comparison to a spectacular 1985 season when he had a 32.8 average and three touchdowns.
Becoming a Pro Bowler might be the worst thing that ever happened to Collins. After leading the Rams in tackles in 1984 and 1985, he was rewarded with a trip to Hawaii that turned into his own personal voyage of the darned. Collins, tackling Marcus Allen, sustained a pinched nerve that cut off the charge to the deltoid muscle. Numbness and an inability to lift the arm over his head caused Collins to miss all of last season. His replacement, Mark Jerue, had an exceptional season, but with Collins rehabilitated and Jerue out with a knee injury, Collins has moved back into the starting lineup where he figures to stay, barring some unforeseen disaster like another trip to the Islands.
In his 11th season, all with the Rams, the senior member of the defense holds the team record for interception return yardage (643) and is second in interceptions (35, 11 behind Eddie Meador). He has started every game he has been available, and every time the offense sputters there's always someone who mentions Cromwell did a nifty job of running the option as a quarterback at Kansas. Despite his carrousel of talents, Cromwell was in the unfamiliar position of being platooned last season at strong safety. Still, starting the first and third quarters, Cromwell had five interceptions, the most for him since 1981. He returned one 80 yards for a touchdown against Detroit. He is expected to share playing time again this season with Vince Newsome, Johnnie Johnson and, perhaps, rookie Michael Stewart.
Dickerson rushed for 1,821 yards last season, the sixth best single-season performance of all-time. In his four years with the Rams he has compiled 6,968 yards rushing, 55 touchdowns and a heap of newspaper clippings to rival the Islip garbage barge. Not all the clippings have been about his running. He was the subject of a paternity suit in the off-season and he expressed his dismay at the amount of money Raider running back Bo Jackson was being paid compared to his own $683,000 a year. Dickerson is expected to catch more passes--he had 26 for 205 yards last season--in the Rams' new offensive scheme. But, of course, it is his running that the Rams will depend on once again.
Dils made five starts in the whirling frenzy that was the Rams' quarterback situation last season. He completed 59 of 129 passes (45.7%) for 693 yards. With Jim Everett seemingly quarterback for life, Dils' is a solid backup, completing 52.6% of his passes in a seven-year career with the Rams and Minnesota. He's also an excellent holder on field-goal attempts. In fact, John Robinson claims he's the finest in the game. But good luck trying to prove that; statistics on the position are rare and interest even rarer.
Doss has played in 137 consecutive games, some more than others. You see, recently, Doss' equation for success has gone like this: The better he plays, the less he plays. Doss, extremely effective against the run, is platooned at right end with pass-rush specialist Gary Jeter. If Doss does a good job of stuffing opponents' running games it means Jeter will see a lot of playing time in passing situations. Doss has done his part. His 51 tackles (40 solo, 11 assists) led Ram linemen for the fifth straight season. However, because of his situation, Doss has recorded just 2 1/2 sacks in 31 games over two seasons. Doss, as recently as 1984, had 8 1/2 sacks.