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Slater Keeps His Student Greene in Line


ANAHEIM — In eight seasons with the Rams, linebacker Kevin Greene's daily pass-rushing lessons sometimes ended with the frustrated student shoving the teacher.

And the teacher, offensive tackle Jackie Slater, usually shoved back.

Although Greene didn't always agree with Slater's teaching methods, he credits the daily matchups with Slater for the development of those pass-rushing skills.

But Slater saved a few lessons for Sunday, when he cut off Greene's pass rush during the Rams' 27-0 victory over the Steelers at Anaheim Stadium.

Greene, who finished with only two tackles and no sacks, was not a factor in his first game at Anaheim Stadium since signing with Pittsburgh as an unrestricted free agent after last season.

"What can I say?" he said. "Did I have a sack? No. He (Slater) shut me out. What do you want me to say?

"We were totally dominated. The Rams came to play and we didn't."

The Greene-Slater matchup received a lot of pregame attention. Could Slater, the 18-year veteran, hold off Greene, who as a Ram was one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL?

"It was more than just another game to me because Kevin was there," Slater said, "but also because we got off to a bad start last week against Green Bay. We really wanted to win this game.

"Going against Kevin was extra incentive because he is very difficult to block. I feel like I was effective against him at times, but he's not a guy you just dominate."

In 18 pro seasons, Slater has blocked the best--Pittsburgh's Joe Greene, the Jets' Mark Gastineau and Ed (Too Tall) Jones of Dallas to name a few. For Slater, there's a big matchup nearly every Sunday.

"Last game it was (Green Bay's) Reggie White," he said. "There will always be someone there. But I'm glad to have him (Greene) behind me."

It wasn't the kind of homecoming Greene had anticipated. Fans gave him a loud ovation as he left the field after the game. But after battling Slater all day, that was about all he got.

"Before the game it was 'Yeah, great, this is my back yard,' " Greene said. "By the end of the game it was terrible. It was their (Rams') back yard."

Unfamiliar surroundings for Greene, but a familiar scenario.

Across the line stood Slater, whom Greene remembered all too well from his days with the Rams.

"When Kevin was here," said Ram offensive lineman Robert Jenkins, "It was pretty heated with he and Jackie in practice. But I think they made each other better."

Before the game, Slater chatted with Greene about the birthday party Saturday for Slater's 3-year-old son, David. Greene's wife, Tara, attended the party.

Someone asked Slater if he was trying to soften up Greene with talk about birthday parties. "It was hard to talk about a birthday party," Slater said, "when I know the guy is coming after my quarterback."

Greene said he "got a couple hits on (Everett), out of the pocket." But for the most part, Slater and the rest of the line gave Everett plenty of time to throw.

The result--221 passing yards for Everett, 127 yards receiving for Henry Ellard, and the Rams' most lopsided victory since beating Atlanta, 33-0, in 1988.

"Jackie did an excellent job," Everett said. "He went after (Greene) and basically controlled him."

It wasn't easy.

"Kevin is a tremendous power player," Slater said. "I was concerned coming in because he knows my weaknesses better than anybody, and he could have exposed a lot of them in the game.

"I was fortunate."

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