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Ram Notebook : In Cameo Role, Testaverde Is No Leading Man

November 30, 1987|CHRIS DUFRESNE and GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI | Times Staff Writers

Vinny Testaverde made his long-awaited appearance Sunday, but only after starting quarterback Steve DeBerg limped off with a bad back early in the fourth quarter and the Buccaneers trailing, 35-3.

"It's tough coming in with that score," Testaverde said. "It's really tough to put five scores on the board with that little time."

A memorable performance, it wasn't. After two short completions, Testaverde found Mickey Sutton wide open. Problem was, Sutton plays defensive back for the Rams.

"The receiver ran a slant (pattern) and I threw the curl," Testaverde said. "It was my fault."

On his next and final series of the day, Testaverde fumbled the snap from center. One play later, he was sacked by Kevin Greene.

Testaverde finished his brief stay in the lineup with four completions in six attempts for 33 yards.

"We were trying to get him some experience," said Buccaneer Coach Ray Perkins. "Steve DeBerg's back was hurting him, so we put Vinny in. If Steve's back wasn't hurt, I wouldn't have put him in. I don't want to talk about specific changes right now. I want to have time to think about it."

Well-schooled in diplomacy, Testaverde declined to make demands. But he did drop hints. Plenty of them.

"Now is as good as time as any to get my feet wet," he said. "I hope to get some more playing time next week. I really believe in the coach, and what he says I'll do and feel good about it either way."

In this, the season of repair for the Rams, garbage time comes infrequently. But with his team ahead, 35-3, early in the fourth quarter, Ram Coach John Robinson began substituting.

Except for strong safety Vince Newsome, who was in uniform, everyone on the Ram active roster found his way into Sunday's game. Little-used running Jon Francis had seven carries, which is more than half his season total. Norwood Vann, usually a special-teams specialist, played linebacker. So did rookie Larry Kelm.

Ram reserves had fun, too. When the Buccaneer defense kept calling timeouts near game's end, quarterback Steve Dils--in for Jim Everett--completed a pass to David Hill rather than call a running play.

About the only glaring Ram mistake of the day was a blocked Mike Lansford 33-yard field goal in the fourth period. It marked only the second missed field goal by Lansford this season.

Despite the block, Lansford still has made 13 of 15 field goals and 25 of 27 extra-point kicks.

Are Ram fans ready for a starting secondary of Michael Stewart and Frank Wattelet? That's what they ended up with in the fourth quarter after Nolan Cromwell was knocked out of the game with a concussion.

The Rams were already missing starting free safety Johnnie Johnson (broken arm) and Newsome, who missed the game with a knee injury.

Stewart, the rookie from Fresno State, played well in his big moment.

"Michael Stewart had a really great opportunity and he took advantage of it," Robinson said.

Stewart had four solo tackles.

Wattelet, a seven-year veteran, was signed this week as insurance after Johnson broke his arm against Washington last Monday night. Wattelet started the last five years for the New Orleans Saints.

Rest easy, though. Cromwell and Newsome are expected back next week.

Yeoman Guman: Fullback Mike Guman collects more dirt than yards, but Everett swears the Rams wouldn't be the same without him.

Unfortunately, they don't give out headlines for throwing lead blocks.

"I have said it before that I've never seen a tougher individual than Charles White," Everett said. "But Mike Guman is close."

Guman, who scored on a one-yard touchdown run, had 23 yards rushing and 15 more receiving.

Superman? How about Superpooped. That's how White felt after his 29-carry, 137-yard performance.

"Of course I'm tired," White said, "I'm not Superman. I've got to be a fool to say I'm not tired. But it's a good tired."

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