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RAMS : Packers' Running Backs Are Focus of the Defense

October 08, 1994|MIKE REILLEY

Green Bay's rushing offense ranks 26th in the league, and Ram tailback Jerome Bettis has outrushed the Packers, 507 yards to 364.

But before Sunday's game at Green Bay, the Rams are concerned about Packer running backs Edgar Bennett, Reggie Cobb and rookie LeShon Johnson for another reason--their receiving skills.

Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre's screen passes to his running backs have become the team's money play this season, and also has taken some of the heat off wide receiver Sterling Sharpe.

"The Packers are the best screen team I've seen in all my years in the NFL," said Joe Vitt, Ram assistant head coach. "They do a great job with their backs."

Bennett leads all NFL running backs in receptions with with 33 for 220 yards. Cobb has 14 catches for 134 yards, and Johnson has eight catches for 150 yards.

Johnson has receptions of 33, 33 and 24 yards in the past four weeks, but dropped a screen pass against New England last week that Packer Coach Mike Holmgren said would have easily gone for a 60-yard touchdown.

Last season, teams were blitzing the Packers regularly, and they had to come up with a play that would get them out of trouble.

The Ram pass rush is considered one of the best in the league, and linebacker Shane Conlan was effective blitzing Atlanta last week.

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Defensive tackle Sean Gilbert missed practice again to rest a sore shoulder and ankle, and tailback Jerome Bettis sat out his third consecutive day of practice with a deep bruise on his low back. Gilbert and Bettis are expected to play Sunday.

Backup tailback David Lang (thigh bruise) is inactive for Sunday's game, and wide receiver Todd Kinchen will replace Lang on kickoff returns. Linebacker Brett Collins, defensive end Brad Ottis and offensive tackle Darryl Ashmore (knee) also are inactive.

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