Gordon will start despite fumbles

Friday, December 6, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Repeated fumbles haven't landed Lamar Gordon in the Rams' doghouse yet, at least not permanently.

The rookie likely will get his fourth straight start Sunday at Kansas City, with Marshall Faulk still hampered by a sprained ankle and expected to see spot duty. But after Gordon lost his third fumble of the season in last week's loss to Philadelphia, it's safe to say the team is concerned.

Every day after practice, running backs coach Bobby Jackson works with Gordon on ball security. Coach Mike Martz said he'll try some new anti-fumble techniques this week.

"The worst thing a running back in this league can do, no matter how talented you are, is to get a reputation as a fumbler," Martz said. "That'll kill you in this league quicker than anything. There's just no excuse for that."

Gordon is more anxious than anyone for a solution, so he's ready for anything.

"If that's what it takes, I guess I'll do those drills," Gordon said.

Gordon has proven to be a good backup to Faulk, with 191 yards rushing and a 3.7-yard average along with 25 catches and an 8.8-yard average. He's shown flashes of brilliance, and moved well ahead of 2000 first-round pick Trung Canidate.

The fumbles, though, are dragging him down.

Gordon said he's coughed up the ball as much in his rookie season as he did his entire career at North Dakota State, and is perplexed by his woes. He looked at game film from his college days in the search for answers, and believes the fumbling might be caused by the extra padding he's wearing on his arms.

He'll wear a lot less against the Chiefs, hoping that's the ticket.

"I was up late trying to figure this out," Gordon said. "Once I figure it out, I'll be all right. Maybe that'll be it."

Telling himself not to fumble didn't help. He tried that last week and coughed up the ball on a hit that was far from jarring.

"Before the snap of the ball I tell myself, 'Finish, finish the play with the ball,"' Gordon said. "I'm thinking about it too much. It's really bugging me."

Gordon was in agony after his third-quarter fumble at the Eagles 26, which cost the Rams a rare scoring opportunity in a 10-3 loss. He knew he'd be benched for the rest of the game, which was what happened.

"Once that happened, I knew that was it," Gordon said. "I really wanted to play and felt good running, but I knew I was done for the day.

"I just said 'No!' out loud."

Martz hasn't given up on what the Rams still believe was a draft-day steal.

"We're going to put him back in there," Martz said. "We're going to continue to with him."

Noteworthy

  • Martz said he and Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil usually talk every week during the season and gave the man who hired him as Rams offensive coordinator in 1999 a lot of credit for keeping his spirits up during the Rams' 0-5 start. "Only another head coach can know what to say or how you're feeling and have the right things to say," Martz said. "He certainly had the right things to say." This week there'll be no phone call because they're playing each other's teams.

  • Quarterback Scott Covington, re-signed this week in the wake of Kurt Warner's broken hand, could be the third-stringer on Sunday even though he's not that well-versed in the offense. "He's got limited knowledge of what we do but we can kind of coach him through it during the game -- throw to this guy, throw to that guy, you know, that kind of stuff."

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