Here are some first hand observations from Rams mini-camp which was held June 14-16 in Earth City. (The weather pretty much held up the first couple of days. They were especially nice because Tuesday and Wednesday they took place late afternoon. Thursday’s practice was midday so the heat seemed a bit worse.)
From the first day of mini-camp: Tuesday
– DNP and/or limited action: Center Scott Wells (excused absence as well as what coach Jeff Fisher finally said was partly due to a knee scope; Wells is expected back healthy in time for training camp), cornerback Cortland Finnegan (who was seen leaving OTAs last week with a left hand injury), and tight ends Mike Hoomanawanui (did light workouts on the sidelines) and Lance Kendricks (left practice with an apparent hand injury, according to Rams writer Nick Wagoner).
– Undrafted free-agent rookie running back Nick Schweiger made his full-squad debut today as Dartmouth finally graduated its seniors over the weekend.
– Speaking of Schweiger, he and fellow rookie running back Isaiah Pead looked to be getting some extra reps as they both play catch-up after missing a good chunk of OTAs.
– Sam Bradford and wide receiver Greg Salas connected on what looked like a beautiful fingertip catch by Salas. The Hawaii product also showed some tight footwork during the catch.
–It looked like tackles Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold were getting some good work (not full contact) in this afternoon – a very good sign for Bradford.
From the second day of mini-camp: Wednesday
– DNP and/or limited action: Center Scott Wells (knee/excused absence), cornerback Cortland Finnegan (left hand), tight ends Lance Kendricks and Mike Hoomananwanui (light work outs on the sidelines again), defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo (DNP), and running back Steven Jackson (excused absence: giving a commencement speech at his alma mater El Dorado High School in Las Vegas. Will be back for the last day of mini-camp.)
– Wide receiver Danario Alexander made a couple of leaping catches that got everyone’s attention. Just can’t help but to think “Please just stay healthy and on the field.”
– It seemed like to me the intensity was a bit reved up on Wednesday. I caught a couple of skirmishes during some of the 11-on-11 drills. Safety Craig Dahl and center Robert Turner exchanged pleasantries as well as another unlikely duo linebacker Josh Hull and rookie undrafted free agent Joe Long (younger brother of Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jake Long.)
– Rookie undrafted free agent tight end Michael McNeil had a couple of early “right on his hands” drops but made up for them with some solid grabs later on.
– Former Redskins linebacker Rocky McIntosh came to Rams Park on a try-out basis on Wednesday as the Rams are trying to strengthen their depth at outside linebacker.
– The biggest surprise for me came as Rams Owner and Chairman Stan Kroenke made an appearance towards the end of practice. He chatted with General Manager Les Snead and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff as he watched players practice. Head Coach Jeff Fisher joined them after media duties and as the Rams Big Four talked for several minutes.
– Coach Fisher said Thursday will be the last day of mini-camp. Veterans and most coaches will take off for the next six weeks before reporting for training camp on July 28. The rookies will have another week in St. Louis doing some strength and conditioning. The drafted rookies will then attend the NFLPA’s annual Rookie Symposium the following week.
From the third and last day of mini-camp: Thursday
– The usual suspects DNP or were limited: Scott Wells (knee/excused absence), Cortland innegan (left hand), Lance Kendricks and Mike Hoomananwanui (light work outs on the sidelines again) and Jermelle Cudjo (DNP).
– Punter John Hekker (Oregon State) and tight end Cory Harkey (UCLA) are the only two rookies not present due to graduation rules. Both schools should be holding their respective graduations this weekend.
– Steven Jackson was back on the field working as hard as ever after giving a commencement speech at El Dorado High School in Las Vegas.
– Rocky McIntosh was present on the field Thursday and officially signed with the Rams later in the afternoon.
– Brian Quick had an acrobatic tip ball catch over safety Quinton Pointer for a nice reception.
– Tight ends Jamie Childers and DeAngelo Peterson had a couple of “getting myself noticed” catches today. Both exhibited great hands and body control.
– Coach Fisher ended the last day of minicamps with some fun competition. He vetted the offensive linemen versus the defensive lineman in a game of “catch the punt.” The line with the most catches wins.
But as with most things, it turned out to be a classic “things are not as easy as they may seem” task as the big dudes had a hard time even getting their paws let alone attempting to catch the balls. For the D-line, defensive ends Jamaar Jarrett (rookie UDFA) and Chris Long appeared to have touched the 70-yard long and high punts. Representing the O-line, guard/tackle Kevin Hughes made a valiant effort and came the closest while another guard, Harvey Dahl, took a roll on the field in his attempt at immortal punt catching glory.
Seeing that this game wasn’t going to end in the near future, Fisher brought in the skilled “professionals.” From my vantage point, it looked like wide receiver Amendola just waltzed onto the field and effortlessly cradled the ball in his arms. I also saw the rookie Johnson catch one as well.
Coach Fisher said after practice, “We like to try to have fun. You know we are going to do that. It looked like it was going to go on forever. I had to adjust. This is a different machine, I’ve never seen a machine like that but clearly the big guys got an appreciation for how hard that job is. When Danny got out there and caught the first one, they understand now. A couple of them (linemen) are in there icing down. Harvey landed on his head.”