After Pat Haden's four-interception performance last week in the Rams' exhibition opener, Los Angeles began making quiet overtures to other clubs, seeking quarterback help. The name heard most often: Dan Pastorini.
General Manager Don Klosterman is considered a longtime fan of Pastorini, the reserve Oakland quarterback who just passed his physical after recovering from elbow surgery. Pastorini long has been available but his physical condition had held up any deals.
A good reason a trade could happen eventually: the Rams, as usual, have a stockpile of draft choices. And Oakland's Al Davis loves to trade away unneeded players for some extra picks.
Sometimes sophisticated NFL scouting systems can miss on a player. Woody Bennett was a free agent last fall, available to anyone. Every team but Miami, which was desperate for running backs, passed on him.
Now Bennett, who went on a determined offseason weight lifting program, is a healthy 235 pounds with good speed. He's been the sensation of the Dolphin camp, where Don Shula has just six players left from prior to 1976.
Danny Buggs, who couldn't last with the Redskins, Tampa Bay or the Canadian Football League, has impressed the Houston Oilers with his camp performance . . . Mean Joe Greene is angry at the Steelers' management. Seems that he has been reading too many things about his physical condition and playing status in the newspapers before hearing it from Coach Chuck Noll. Greene has read he has a bad back ("not true") and that he may be used only as a pass rusher. He said the comments hurt his feelings . . . Another Steeler, running back Russell Davis, the ex-Woodbridge High School star, provoked Noll by showing up for camp 10 pounds overweight, at a hefty 245. He's down to 231 and, after appearing to be on the verge of being waived, is back in contention for a roster spot . . . Former SMU quarterback Mike Ford fought hard to report to Tampa Bay at his required weight of 220. He made it, at 219, but complained: "I'm from Texas, so I had beer in my baby bottle before I had milk."
Although initial reports on all No. 1 draft choices are favorable, most offensive tackles are finding it difficult to adjust to pro pass blocking. Washington's Mark May, New England's Brian Holloway and Chicago's Keith Van Horne all had problems against veteran defensive teammates, although May was the only one to get into fights over it. Holloway was being passed so often that it was said he looked like a turnstile . . . Buffalo seems determined to bench Conrad Dobler this year. Jim Ritcher, the former North Carolina State center, had been expected to win Dobler's guard job. But Ritcher hurt his knee early in camp. Now, former tackle Jon Borchardt has been moved to guard and is pushing for starting time . . . Atlanta, which is becoming a sanctuary for young players, could wind up starting its first and third choices, Bobby Butler and Scott Woerner, in the secondary. Butler was drafted as an eventual replacement for veteran Rolland Lawrence, once one of the league's better cornerbacks. Lawrence has been hurt most of camp.
Injuries are hurting Tampa Bay more than most teams. In one week, Coach John McKay lost strong safety Mark Cotney for the year with torn knee ligaments, cornerback Curtis Jordan for eight weeks with a broken collarbone, free safety Cedric Brown for at least a week with a bruised shoulder, offensive tackle David Reavis for two weeks with a sprained knee and receiver Ike Hagins for two weeks with a fractured cheekbone . . . Detroit's Dexter Bussey had cartilage repaired in his knee and will miss a month. . . Fullback Marion Barber, the Jets' No. 2 choice, has recurring headaches from an early camp collision in a tackling drill. It's possible he may not play again this season . . . Receiver Don Bass of Cincinnati is still recovering from knee surgery and isn't expected back until midseason. But two other knee problems are healing faster than expected. San Francisco, which has been looking for a veteran running back, might be able to use Paul Hofer by the season opener. He was considered questionable for the year. And Seattle's Sherm Smith, the club's only decent back, is improving enough to give the Seahawks some hope he'll contribute to their ground game soon.
Admission from Oakland: its trade with Los Angeles for Monte Jackson two years ago was a big mistake. . . A strange pairing: low-key Randy White and agent Howard Slusher. The Cowboys have been able to avoid negotiation problems but that may end now that Slusher has a Dallas client . . . The two teams plagued most by contract hassles are New England, which is using Terry Nelson, the ex-Ram, as its tight end since Don Hasselbeck is still holding out, and Denver, where half the squad seems unhappy. . .Chicago is unhappy with its secondary. Gary Fencik finally has agreed to terms but Doug Plank has been demoted, at least temporarily, behind Len Walterscheid . . . Watch for trade talks to heat up after this weekend. Most teams have been waiting for at least two preseason games and the first mandatory roster cut before making any decisions about squad shifts . . . NFL Players Association representatives Kermit Alexander and Dave Meggysey visited the Steeler camp last week and told the players to get a personal strike fund together for next summer.