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RAM NOTEBOOK : Rubley Injury Leaves Team With Decision

August 14, 1994|T.J. SIMERS and MIKE REILLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

ANAHEIM — Team doctors met with Ram quarterback T.J. Rubley before Saturday night's game and decided he would rest his sore arm for another two weeks.

The medical decision will force the Rams to decide whether to keep Rubley when they trim the roster to 60 players on Aug. 23 without having watched him perform in exhibition play.

An MRI test Thursday revealed no structural damage to Rubley's elbow, ruling out the need for immediate surgery. Rubley has reported improvement in his arm, but said his hand remains swollen and his forearm sore.

Inflammation in Rubley's throwing arm and hand have plagued him since March. After attempting to compete in training camp, Rubley was forced to the sideline two weeks ago, unable even to hold the ball in his hand. Coaches--who were unaware of Rubley's arm injury--had become critical of his performance during the off-season and early stages of training camp.

If the team decides to place him on injured reserve, they lose his services for the entire season, and he would not be allowed to practice with the team.

If the Rams release Rubley with an injury they lose his rights, although he would earn his salary until pronounced healthy.

The Rams also will have the option of carrying Rubley on their final 53-man roster, which would allow them to use him when he recovers. But can they afford to carry both a healthy Jamie Martin and an injured Rubley as the No. 3 quarterback? Probably not.

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The Rams announced a last-minute change in their defensive starting lineup--a change some predicted would come just before the regular-season opener.

Joe Kelly, who left the Raiders to sign with the Rams during the off-season, replaced linebacker Henry Rolling to start Saturday night's game.

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Rookie strong safety Toby Wright, a second-round pick out of Nebraska, all but guaranteed himself full-time employment with two big hits on kickoff and punt coverages.

Wright made a diving stop on the opening kickoff, then teamed with Marquez Pope to level New England wide receiver Kevin Lee on a punt return early in the second quarter. Lee suffered a broken jaw on the play.

Wright has been backing up starting strong safety Deral Boykin while learning the Rams' defense in training camp.

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Leadership skills: Quarterback Chris Miller completed all five of his pass attempts for 51 yards, but perhaps his best effort Saturday night didn't show up in the statistics.

After tailback David Lang's second-quarter fumble set up New England's first touchdown, the first person to greet him on the sideline was Miller, offering words of encouragement and trying to show the leadership from his position that was lacking last season with Jim Everett.

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Coming on: Rookie wide receiver Chris Brantley, a fourth-round pick from Rutgers, began to show signs of promise in the second quarter. Brantley returned a punt 11 yards and caught two passes for 51 yards, including a 39-yard reception from Chris Chandler that set up Tony Zendejas' 41-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

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Add Brantley: The rookie was one of a handful of Ram players to have big plays wiped out by penalties. The Rams had seven penalties for 56 yards in the first half, including four penalties on rookie left tackle Wayne Gandy for lining up off the line of scrimmage.

Gandy penalties wiped out a 28-yard catch by Brantley and a 13-yard catch by Johnny Bailey, and a holding penalty on guard Chuck Belin nullified a 10-yard run by Jerome Bettis.

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