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MIKE PENNER

Another Yard for Guardians of Gridiron

November 06, 1994|MIKE PENNER

T his week in the NFL . . .

ANAHEIM--Chris Miller, who cannot remember names, dates, passing plays or poker hands since sustaining a concussion two weeks ago, will not start at quarterback for the Rams today against the Denver Broncos. Instead, Chuck Knox goes with Chris Chandler, who can remember sitting on the bench in Indianapolis, Tampa and Phoenix. Rams, at home, playing a 3-5 opponent that was once 0-4, are 2 1/2-point underdogs.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo.--Big grudge match here as ex-Chief and current Raider tailback Harvey Williams asks himself, "Who's laughing loudest now?" and the Chiefs ask themselves, "Who is Harvey Williams again?"

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ATLANTA--The Falcons, 5-0 after bye weeks, are dumbfounded by the Chargers' decision to start Gale Gilbert, whose entire NFL career has been a bye week. The last time Gilbert started and won a football game--1984--he was a senior at California and the Falcons were quarterbacked by Dave Archer, coached by Dan Henning and led by foreign exchange field-goal kicker Mick Luckhurst.

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PHILADELPHIA--Buddy Ryan returns to Philadelphia, startled to learn Philadelphia is still standing. Buddy picks up a tabloid newspaper and finds that the home football team is 6-2. The star quarterback, Randall Cunningham, is the same one he benched midway through a 1990 playoff game, the last game Buddy coached for the Eagles. The star running back, Charlie Garner, is a rookie, a species Buddy usually confines to the practice squad. "They don't know what the &! they're doing," Buddy scoffs as he watches his new quarterback, Steve Beuerlein, hand the ball to Larry Centers on first, second and third down while the Cardinal punt team warms up.

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TAMPA--Buccaneers Coach Sam Wyche is concerned about his team's emotional well-being as Tampa Bay hosts Chicago in a crucial NFL schedule-filler. Last week, the Baltimore Sun polled readers as to whether they preferred the Buccaneers or the Rams coming to town in 1995--and the Buccaneers finished last, receiving just 14.5% of the vote. The Rams got 41.7%. "No Team," an inspired choice, topped the poll, drawing 43.8%.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.--The Jets host the Bills, who last week watched Steve Christie become the most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history and were disappointed to learn they signed him two Super Bowls too late.

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HOUSTON--The Oilers continue to reel from their ill-fated off-season decision to appease the Bubba faction of their fan base by ridding themselves of effete-sounding, no-good Yankee quarterback Warren and replacing him with Cody, Bucky and Billy Joe. Oilers, who drop to 1-8 after hosting Pittsburgh today, have planned a quarterback tryout camp open to anyone named Drew, Troy, Stan, Bart, Norm, Otto or Fran.

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MILWAUKEE--The Packers host the Lions in a matchup of bitter NFC Central rivals, since both are 4-4 and one's likely to be trailing Minnesota by three games in the standings by day's end. If not for the NFL's overtime system, the Lions would be 1-4-3, although Barry Sanders told the Detroit media last week that "We could win the Super Bowl with Wayne (Fontes)." Sanders also said he believes Fontes has the team headed in the right direction. The NFL office immediately fined the Lions for failing to disclose Sanders' post-concussion syndrome in their Week 10 injury report.

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MIAMI--Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino is expected to move into second place on the NFL career passing yardage list today, needing 150 yards to surpass Dan Fouts' total of 43,040, which would keep Marino on pace to break Fran Tarkenton's league record of 47,003 yards by the middle of the 1995 season. Indianapolis, meanwhile, starts Don Majkowski.

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MINNEAPOLIS--Fully recovered from running back kicks and punts for 347 yards against the Rams--he had a bye last week--Tyrone Hughes camps under the football once as the Saints take on the Vikings at the Metrodome. Last season, after Hughes returned a kick 99 yards to beat the Vikings, 17-14, Minnesota Coach Dennis Green fired his special teams coach and hired a new one. In Anaheim, Rams special teams coach Wayne Servier remains gainfully employed, with Chuck Knox assuring fans that all problems have been solved, now that David Lang has returned.

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SEATTLE--The Cincinnati Bengals, who start Jeff Blake at quarterback today and had to sign Todd Philcox and Eric Wilhelm earlier in the week because David Klingler and Donald Hollas are hurt, still have no one on their roster qualified to hold the clipboard for Rick Mirer.

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WASHINGTON--Steve Young. And Gus Frerotte. Good day, from the nation's capital.

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CLEVELAND--And, in a related note, Mark Rypien, Redskin Super Bowl hero of January '92, makes his first start of the '94 season. He makes it for Cleveland. He had been backing up Vinny Testaverde, but Testaverde, the 23rd-rated quarterback in the league, suffered a concussion last Sunday. In living rooms across the country, fathers sit their sons in front of the television, wag a scolding finger and begin to preach, "See, let that be a lesson to you."

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IRVING, Tex.--It's Monday Night Football from Texas Stadium, Giants against the Cowboys, and Giant fans are asked to make a choice. Should it be (a) Dave Brown, (b) Kent Graham, or (c) "The Nanny," followed by "Dave's World" and "Murphy Brown"?

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