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Rams Give Pace Starting Role

September 23, 1997|Associated Press

Convinced his offensive line can do no worse, Ram Coach Dick Vermeil is putting Orlando Pace in the starting lineup.

Pace, the No. 1 pick of the NFL draft who held out all of training camp, will get his first start at left tackle Sunday at Oakland.

Vermeil has deferred to his assistants in his first NFL coaching job since 1982, almost to a fault. This time, he made the decision after last Sunday's 13-3 victory over the New York Giants.

"We're still going to have problems in there, but he's going to be the guy who ends up in there," he said.

"Other people have been practicing the whole time and still make the mistakes too. They've been here the whole time, been here through minicamps, and are getting whipped physically and also making mistakes."

Pace, who skipped training camp before signing a rookie-record seven-year, $29-million deal in mid-August, has been saying for the last few weeks that he'd learn faster if he were playing more.

"I'm excited to get in there and finally get an opportunity to start," he said. "It's a tremendous advantage."

By making the move now, Vermeil said it'll be better for the rest of the line as well. Wayne Gandy has been starting at left tackle while Pace learns the ropes and now he'll go back to right tackle, where he played last season.


Atlanta Falcon linebacker David Brandon underwent surgery to repair his left leg, broken in Sunday's game against San Francisco. He will be sidelined the remainder of the season and replaced at by rookie Henri Crockett, Coach Dan Reeves said.

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