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Knox Can't Get Georgia Back Off His Mind : Draft: Ram coach refuses to halt any attempt to get a shot at picking Hearst.

April 21, 1993|T.J. SIMERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — The Rams want Georgia running back Garrison Hearst in Sunday's NFL draft, and while he appears out of their reach, Coach Chuck Knox refuses to surrender.

"Chuck Knox called (Tuesday)," Phoenix General Manager Larry Wilson said. "He showed interest in moving up. We never discussed any compensation."

Talk to the Ram assistant coaches these days and they will direct the conversation toward Hearst. They are sold on the running back who covers 40 yards in 4.38 seconds, and although many draft experts have them pegged to take Notre Dame running back Jerome Bettis, they remain teased by the prospect of landing Hearst.

The Rams have the 10th selection in the first round, however, and the Cardinals have made it known that they will select Hearst with the fourth selection.

Knox is undaunted, and is operating under the theory that everyone has their price.

"I'd listen," Wilson said when asked how he would respond to an offer from Knox.

The Cardinals wouldn't really trade the chance to nab Hearst, now would they?

"Never say never," Wilson said.

In 1983, while head coach in Seattle, Knox gave Houston second- and third-round picks and swapped first-round positions to take running back Curt Warner. Knox might be willing to make the same offer for Hearst, but would the Cardinals, who are in need of a public relations boost in Phoenix, accept such an offer?

It's not likely, but then the Rams still need a running back. Bettis remains an attractive alternative, but his selection will force the team to make adjustments in its offensive approach.

If the Cardinals stay in place and take Hearst as expected, that might free up running back Johnny Johnson, who played impressively down the stretch in 1992. Johnson has had problems with the Cardinal management in the past in regard to contract negotiations, and there is speculation in Phoenix that he might not co-exist peacefully with Hearst.

Johnson's name did not come up in Tuesday's conversation between Knox and Wilson, but it's known the Rams had an interest in him before last season.

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