Before heading out to Rams Camp I asked Rams fans who or what position they were interested in hearing about. Most popular requests were Sam Bradford, WR’s, OLB, CB’s, and the O-line. Less requested but equally as important are the special teams guys – kickers, kick return guys, and snappers. No one asked for a punter preview which was disappointing because punters are (football) people, too. Even the face of NFL Network, Rich Eisen, agrees. (If you don’t know this about me already I’m a huge fan of Rich Eisen. So this was a nice surprise.)
(I apologize in advance for not being able to get to all the requests. It’s really difficult to catch everything going on with just two eyes. Although I did get lots of help from friends. I will try and get to the positions I missed on Sunday the next time I’m out at Rams Camp. I promise.)
Let’s get to the requests, shall we?
1) QB Sam Bradford for @ThomasWalker8 @ajr71rams @JonCantTweet @BrennanSmith:
Bradford, for lack of a better word, looked crisp. He had good control over the ball and zipped quite a few short passes down the middle. They concentrated two or three series just on short yardage plays and Bradford didn’t disappoint. No question about the strength of his arm if anyone was still concerned about it. Shoulder surgery seems like a distant memory.
Unfortunately for him and the Rams his high ankle injury has replaced the shoulder worries. Because of the short passes we didn’t see a whole lot of movement from Bradford out of the pocket – I was trying to get a glimpse of how his ankle is doing. Here’s what Bradford said when asked about it after practice.
You know it’s okay. Obviously, today I had no problems with it. When I said earlier I have to stay on top of my body, I still think that’s one thing I have to make sure I take care of. Our trainers have already told me, talked to the coaches, if it does start giving me problems, it’s something that I’m going to bring up. If it causes me to limit reps then that’s what we’re going to do. I’m not going to go into the season with a sore ankle again.
I could go on with a long rant about how Bradford was mishandled by the previous coaching regime but will stop here. No reason to get all worked up this early in the week, right? One thing I have noticed in Bradford’s pressers is that he more often than not Bradford refers to Jeff Fisher as “Coach Fisher” and Steve Spagnuolo as “Spags.” Call it reading between the pillars but I get the sense there’s a greater respect for his new coach.
2) Wide receivers for @Anthowatson @Londonramfan @a_quality_guy @BrennanSmith:
In the limited amount of time I had to look receivers Greg Salas, Danny Amendola, Brian Quick, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Steve Smith and Danario Alexander stood out. Now some were for good reasons and some not so good.
Bad news first: Fan favorite and oft-injured Alexander (DX) was spotted on the sidelines again wearing a white headband. According to Coach Fisher DX was nursing what he referred to as “summer conditioning injuries.” In other words, he’s coddling a pulled hammy. I noticed during cone drills Quick wasn’t a sharp in his breaks and didn’t have the kick in his step. He translated better once he was put into one-on-one situations against the defense but the lack of energy I saw from him was a bit worrisome. I don’t know if he’s feeling the pressure of being the second pick for the Rams or if it’s having to learn a real playbook for the first time but he wasn’t as comfortable out there as I would have hoped. In his defense, it’s still early. He has some time to step it up and I think he will. If he doesn’t he’ll have Steven Jackson to answer to.
The good news: Both Amendola and Salas looked like their pre-’season ending’ injury selves. Salas actually looked stronger in his running and caught a few zingers from Bradford in the middle. Amendola, as always, was running at 110% was fielding kicks and catching passes with ease. Givens is quietly making his mark while Quick garners most of the media attention. Pettis looked a bit faster out there and was hustling during 7-on-7′s. Smith had a solid outing with one play where he fully extended to go after a Bradford pass. See the pretty picture to the right.
3) Cornerbacks/Secondary for @tim_nicolai @a_quality_guy
I know it’s a bit too soon to sip the Kool-Aid but damn did Janoris Jenkins look like a starter. @Ramsherd said it best when he tweeted this:
Watching the cornerbacks practice their backpedal. Janoris Jenkins looks like Mardy Gilyard in reverse. Crazy quick feet.
I know this was merely a CB drill but if you saw it in person you’d be thirsty for more. Jenkins had more than just quick feet though. Now I pride myself on having some smooth moving (dancing) hips but the speed and ease in which Jenkins turned on a dime was fantastic. I was envious even. Jenkins played outside with Cortland Finnegan in many sets. But it was Bradley Fletcher that got a majority of the reps with Finnegan according to @lannyosu.
Another stand out was Josh Gordy. He broke up a Kellen Clemens to Quick pass. Pretty much stripped the ball from Quick’s grasp. Then he batted down a ball at the line of scrimmage which erupted in whoopin’ and hollerin’ from the fans.
Rookie Trumaine Johnson got reps with the ones and twos and it looked like safety Craig Dahl was getting some of the first team snaps.
4) Coach Fisher for @dvond:
What can I say about the Big ‘Stache himself… He’s clearly the master of his domain. Coach Fisher surveys all and yet speaks only when necessary. He’s not one of those constant barkers. I sound like a broken record when it comes to this but he instantly brought an air of respect and a winning history with him. Another thing that’s evident – Fisher has great confidence in his coaching staff, just like the players have confidence in him. But don’t take my word for it.
Bradford on his new head coach:
It’s definitely different. Obviously Coach Fisher and (Steve Spagnuolo) are different in their philosophies in what they do, so I think naturally there’s a different vibe, but I think there’s a sense of excitement in our locker room this year.
The first thing and the one that stands out to me, being through this several times, is the coaching staff he keeps together. A lot of times, it’s hard for a coach coming in to get the exact guys that he wants. A lot of guys are taken around the league that are his first pick or he would choose to have, but it seems that Coach Fisher has put together an absolutely stellar staff. There’s a lot of knowledge amongst those guys.
On top of that, he does a good job of feeling the chemistry of a team and piecing it together. There have been a few examples already within a day of how he takes control and asks guys for input on certain things.
and last but certainly not least, DE Chris Long on Coach Fisher’s tone at the first team meeting:
Great tone. He’s a confident guy because he’s gotten it done before and he knows how to do it so he gives us confidence just being up there. There’s no panic about it. It’s, ‘Were gonna win, and we’re gonna learn how to win and we’ve got what we need in this room.’ That message…it’s going to take work but there’s no panic. The past is the past and let’s look toward the future so we’re all excited about that.
5) I didn’t get a great look at the offensive or the defensive lines from where I was watching. But I did the two big “penalties” of the day. Rookie DT Michael Brockers went off sides (I read that’s when he tweaked his ankle a bit.) and I also saw an O-lineman false start. Any guesses among the usual suspects? I hate to say this but it was Rodger Saffold – cue the jokes… Hey, I was just happy to see him healed from his pectoral injury and moving about. So he false started. Once.
6) Kickers for @BiggameCB
This picture does not do sixth round draft pick rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein justice. This kid was socking the ball from what looks to be about the 40-yard line. What you can’t see is that he kicked it several feet above the goal posts and thuds the back of the main Rams facility (not the small white building pictured here.) I’d say we were looking at maybe a 60-yarder?
Zuerlein stands at a modest 6 feet tall and weighs thirteen pounds shy of two Benjamin Franklins but this guy’s leg can pack a punch.
Fellow rookie punter Johnny Hekker tweeted Zuerlein is known as “Greg the Leg.”
I can’t say with 100-percent certainty that he’s 100-percent accurate with his ball placement but there’s “no doubt” (*Bradford voice) he’s got the distance part of his game.
Zuerlein is competing against second year kicker, Garrett Lindholm, for the starting job. After veteran kicker Josh Brown (now with the Jets) was let go in the off season. It should be a good battle of the legs.
7) The biggest news of the day came in the form of a four-year contract extension for DE Chris Long. The Rams announced Sunday that they had agreed to terms with Long just that afternoon. Since then Rams Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff revealed on 101 The Fast Lane that Long had indeed officially signed Monday. We have yet to see the official numbers. Now Mr. Demoff and company can channel all their focus on getting MLB James Laurinaitis locked up – which he says he’s on it.
8) Rams said Sunday’s attendance was just over 1,600 fans who came to watch the first of fifteen practices. The hills and newly set up tents were pretty much full of fans – young, old, men, women and children. They also had food trucks from Ham’s Deli, Pi (pizza) and Kona Ice St. Louis lined up outside the ContinuityX Training Center. But the best part of being there was meeting up with Rams tweeps. Last year I met and got to know @Ramsherd @Capriquarian @wynnde13 @lannyosu and @lancasbg. This year I finally got to meet @LJRamsfan
@danep12 @Daniel_Doelling @SGmosportsmag and @jimiramsboy. And I’m sure I will meet more of Rams Nation as training camp continues. Looking forward to it.
9) Just as a public service announcement – remember to take a lot of what we see, hear and write with a small (or larger) grain of salt. And I’m talking about both the good and the bad. The Rams are just got two practices under their belt and it will be another practice in shells before they put the pads on and go. In other words, don’t get too high or too low. It’s still early.
10) My last comment, actually raving shout out, goes to Rams Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (basically the Rams team President if I were handing out titles) Kevin Demoff. I don’t think you will find another high ranking NFL executive who is willing to take one for the team the way Mr. Demoff did Sunday afternoon.
Mad props to you, Mr. Demoff.