The Rams say they will soon decide what to do with troublesome running back Eric Dickerson.
What they won't say is when. It may be today. Perhaps tomorrow. Maybe not.
"It's something that we want to put behind us," Coach John Robinson said Monday. "It hangs over all of us."
The star tailback, of course, is looking to get out of town any way he can. Dickerson carried the ball only seven times in Monday night's 30-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns and sat out the second half with what the team was calling a thigh injury.
Was Dickerson really hurt? Robinson says yes. Well, he wants to believe it anyway.
"It's clearly on everyone's mind," Robinson said. "If the injury is in fact part of a strategy of his, that's something you have to make inference of or you have to find out from him. Everything we know in terms of examination and his statements, which I've always believed to be at face value, was that his leg was bothering him."
What Robinson has to determine is what course of action to take if he concludes that Dickerson purposely held himself out of a game to satisfy his own political means.
Then, of course, Dickerson greatly jeopardized his team's chance of winning the game.
And if that was the case?
"I'm not willing to respond to that," Robinson said. "I have to be careful that other people's speculation somehow does not get tied to me."
The most viable options are for the Rams to trade Dickerson before next Tuesday's trading deadline, or to suspend him without pay for now and trade him later.
Or, the team could do nothing.
When asked if a suspension was likely, Robinson just smiled and said: "You asked the question."
Dickerson's agent, Charles Chin, said Tuesday that the team has no grounds to suspend his client.
"We are not even worried about that," Chin said. "Eric didn't do anything to warrant a suspension. If they do suspend Eric, the Rams do so with the understanding they will be hindering all relations with Eric permanently."
But Chin did confirm that John Shaw, the Rams vice president of finance, has broached the subject of suspension in recent negotiations.
Chin said if Dickerson is suspended, he will never play for the Rams again and "take whatever action we would deem necessary."
Shaw, who does not speak with the press, was in Kansas City on Thursday attending a meeting of National Football League owners and general managers.
The real answers concerning Dickerson will come soon enough, Robinson said.
"Whatever happens, I will share with you as soon as I can," he said. "Until then, I will have no comment. It's not out of any secrecy. I'll come up with an announcement. Obviously he has an injury that clouds the issue. We need to be exact in any decision or statement.
"It (the thigh) bothered him prior to the strike," he said. "It was there. It was sore. He was examined by doctors."
But Dickerson has played with leg problems before. He looked marvelous on a 27-yard touchdown run just before the end of the half Monday night. In fact, Dickerson has never missed a game because of injury and has long been considered one of the league's most durable backs.
That's what has the skeptics wondering.
So this thigh bruise is worse than before?
"Yeah," Robinson said. "Apparently so."
Ram Notes Eric Dickerson became a father Monday night when former girlfriend Rea Ann Silva gave birth to daughter, Karissa Nicole. . . . If Dickerson doesn't play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, the Rams are in trouble. Buford McGee underwent surgery for a torn Achilles' tendon and will be lost for the season. Charles White broke the index finger on his right hand and severely sprained his left. Mike Guman is doubtful with a neck strain. If they can't make it, it leaves the Rams with a backfield of Tim Tyrrell and Jon Francis, a leftover from the non-union team. . . . In defense of quarterback Jim Everett's passing performance--21 for 50, 227 yards, 3 interceptions--his receivers did drop 10 passes.