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PRO FOOTBALL : Ram Notebook : In His Corner, LeRoy Irvin Shows He Can Tackle Problems on Field

November 16, 1987|GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI and CHRIS DUFRESNE | Times Staff Writers

Cornerback LeRoy Irvin returned to the Ram starting lineup after a celebrated absence that included assorted injuries, illnesses, holdouts and trade demands. By most accounts, including his own, the return was a success.

"I thought I did OK," he said. "I knew a lot of guys were going to be watching me. I did the best that I could."

Irvin said he considered Sunday's game against the Cardinals "my season opener."

"The first part, my mind wasn't into playing football," he said. "This is like my first game back. I felt like I missed all of training camp. I'm really glad with my performance."

Although the Rams chose not to reveal their plans, Irvin said he knew last week, when he apologized to Coach John Robinson, that he would start against the Cardinals.

"I came in and I told John, 'John, I've been . . . working hard, I'm in the best shape of my life, I need to start, I can start and I'm ready to start.' John said that was all he needed to know.

"I knew I'd start from then on."

Irvin said he and the Rams now will turn their attention to next week's opponent, the Washington Redskins.

"We beat a good St. Louis team, but we want to beat a playoff team," he said. "That's all I'm thinking about right now. I'm going to have one beer and start thinking about the Redskins."

Where does Sunday's 213-yard rushing performance put Charles White on the all-time lists? Well, it still left him 62 yards shy of Chicago tailback Walter Payton's National Football League record of 275, set against the Minnesota Vikings in 1977.

But White joins an elite group of Rams. He's now fifth on the all-time single-game list, trailing Eric Dickerson's 248 (1985 playoffs vs. Dallas), Willie Ellison's 247 (1971 vs. New Orleans), Tom Wilson's 223 (1956 vs. Green Bay) and Dickerson's 215 (1984 vs. Houston).

Dickerson's 215-yard performance against the Oilers came on the same day he broke O.J. Simpson's single-season rushing mark at Anaheim. Dickerson finished the season with 2,105 yards.

A lot of the Rams were crediting offensive line coach Hudson Houck for the resurgence of the running game Sunday.

Offensive tackle Jackie Slater said the line sat down with Houck at halftime and made several blocking adjustments.

Houck said it was just a question of the Rams being more aggressive.

"I loved every second of it," he said. "The linemen like it when we can go after somebody like that. It comes down to a one-on-one contest. The theme of the game was, "Worry about you." When you worry only about you, the unit looks like a unit. When things go bad, you start thinking about what the other guys are doing, who's screwing up, who didn't do it right."

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