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Johnson Broke Arm on Big Hit : Ram Free Safety Will Be Out for Rest of Season

November 26, 1987|CHRIS DUFRESNE | Times Staff Writer

Johnnie Johnson's jarring end-zone hit on Washington receiver Art Monk Monday night might have saved the Rams a game, but it also cost the team its starting free safety.

Johnson learned Tuesday that he had broken his right arm on the play and will miss the rest of the season.

"I felt something was wrong," he said. "But it didn't hurt like a break's supposed to hurt."

Johnson complained of soreness on the plane home but didn't feel the need to get treatment Tuesday morning. But when the arm continued to swell during the day, Johnson decided to have X-rays taken.

"It's not a major break, but it's located in a bad place," he said. "The doctors feel like if I try and take a chance, it could break completely, and then you've got problems."

The break occurred on the game's next-to-last play. The Redskins, trailing, 30-26, had second and 10 at the Ram 14-yard line with 24 seconds remaining.

Washington quarterback Doug Williams threw into the end zone to Monk, who had the ball on his fingertips before he was hit by Johnson. The tipped ball was intercepted by LeRoy Irvin.

"I saw (Monk) and the ball, and we both got there at about the same time," Johnson said. "I only thought of one thing, to have as big a collision as possible."

The hit also bloodied Johnson's face.

"I felt that," he said. "I felt the blood, but I found out my arm was broken a day later. . . . It's a shame, right when we're starting to play well."

The injury shakes up the Ram secondary for this week, with strong safety Vince Newsome still questionable due to a knee injury suffered in the same game.

If Newsome can't make it, rookie Michael Stewart will replace Newsome at strong safety against Tampa Bay Sunday, with Nolan Cromwell moving to Johnson's starting spot at free safety.

"It's almost time for him," Coach John Robinson said of Stewart, the team's eighth-round choice from Fresno State. "He's playing so well on special teams. He's going to be a starting football player at some point."

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