In case you missed last week’s post on the Rams’ sixth OTA on 101ESPN.com …
Friday, the St. Louis Rams finished up their sixth of a total 10 sanctioned organized team activities (OTAs) before heading out for the long holiday weekend.
The energy around camp was still high as players went through a variety of drills and exercises. Earlier in the week, head coach Jeff Fisher said, “We got a lot done, a lot of different situations and scenarios, end-of-the-game scenarios.” Friday was another extension of getting the basics down and installing the playbook that Fisher said was about 70 percent installed as of Wednesday.
One thing I noticed was the interchanging and various substitutions for personnel packages. Coach Fisher was mixing things up and accessing which players fit best and where.
I don’t know if he is much of a cook, but Fisher reminded me of the cooking competition “Iron Chef,” which fittingly enough takes place in Kitchen Stadium.
Coach Fisher is trying to put together a prize-winning (Lombardi Trophy) recipe using all sorts of ingredients – a little less passing here, more secondary pressure there and also throwing in a surprise play to kick it up a notch. Bam! (I think I just mixed my cooking shows, but oh well…)
Camps and OTAs are the perfect opportunity to try out these different combinations and permutations to get that formula just right for the regular season. Fisher seems well aware of as much, particularly when it pertains to the eight tight ends currently on the Rams’ roster.
“We’ve got them all shapes and sizes and Coach (Rob Boras) is doing a great job with them,” he said. “It’s a very important position in our offense. You need flexibility and they need to be able to be interchanged, sometimes at the fullback position, sometimes you spread them open. It’s an important position, like I said, so we’re pleased so far.”
A media favorite (at least it’s what I look forward to) are the 11-on-11 face-offs that usually take place toward the end of practice. This is where we get to see how all the drills come together – or not.
It was a third and long with rookie cornerback Trumaine Johnson playing man-to-man on a fellow newcomer, wide receiver Brian Quick. Quick went up for the grab, but a brilliantly timed defensive play by Johnson broke up the catch and probably saved a touchdown.
One play that did work for the offense: a beautiful pass from quarterback Sam Bradford to wide receiver Steve Smith for a touchdown during a two-minute drill. The sidelines went wild as Smith came off the field.
The team has the Memorial Day holiday and a week off before returning to St. Louis. I can’t wait to see what Fisher will cook up for the remaining four OTAs beginning June 5.
Bits and Pieces
1. Players who did not participate or had limited participation included center Scott Wells (excused absence), cornerback Josh Gordy, wide receiver Danario Alexander, tight end Mike Hoomanawanui, safety Matt Daniels, offensive tackle Rodger Saffold, defensive end Chris Long, and defensive tackles Trevor Laws, Michael Brockers and Dorell Scott (right foot in a walking boot).
2. Rookies still absent for graduation rules included running backs Isaiah Pead and Nick Schweiger, punter John Hekker and tight end Cory Harkey. Steven Jackson said Pead would be back June 8.
3. Bradford overall has looked sharp with his passes and, at first glance, I wouldn’t be able to guess he still has lingering issues with his ankle. Then again, no one’s really been applying a lot of pressure on the red-jerseyed Bradford.
4. Rookie seventh-round pick running back Daryl Richardson continues to show his elusiveness during drills, and second-year running back Chase Reynolds is getting lots of touches during Pead’s absence. If I’m Pead, June 8 can’t come fast enough. Jackson said once he is here, we’d forget all about the time Pead missed. For his sake, I hope Jackson is right.
5. Last season’s second-round pick, tight end Lance Kendricks, seems to have bulked up this year – in a good way. He’s thicker and looks more threatening on and off the line of scrimmage. He caught quite a few passes this week and is showing glimpses of his 2011 preseason form.
6. The biggest whoop-whoop came after a TD catch and subsequent spiking of the football from offensive tackle Joe Long (Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jake Long’s younger brother). This was easily my pick for highlight of the day.