- For NFL fans who are into video games as well as the potential for ways to maximize your NFL viewing experience – and there are many of you based on sales of the Madden video games – the league announced a new partnership Tuesday afternoon that could open up some really exciting possibilities.
- In conjunction with Microsoft’s announcement of its new XBox gaming console, it also announced a new deal with the NFL.
- Below is the release from the league with some details on what this will entail. And I’ll be on the lookout for updates as the product nears its launch date.
Microsoft and National Football League announce multiyear landmark partnership to enhance the game for fans, players and coaches
Introduction of Interactive NFL Experience on Xbox and Surface technology on NFL sidelines to shape the future of football — in the living room and on the field.
REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft Corp. and the National Football League (NFL) today announced a multiyear, landmark partnership that will deliver truly unique interactive NFL television experiences for the next-generation Xbox One and leverage Microsoft devices and services to evolve the in-game, sideline experience for coaches, players and other personnel.
“We love the passion that players, coaches and fans bring to the NFL game; it’s what makes the NFL game-day experience so unique,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. “We’re excited to apply our passion for technology to the NFL experience, both on the sidelines through the innovative use of Microsoft Surface devices, and for fans through an enhanced NFL viewing experience on Xbox One.”
The agreement provides Microsoft with the rights to create exclusive interactive experiences through products such as Xbox One and Surface, transforming the way fans will experience the NFL in the years to come. The NFL on Xbox will provide fans with an all-new viewing experience through innovations around Skype and Xbox SmartGlass; an all-new, innovative fantasy football solution allowing fans to view players and live competition side by side on a single TV screen; and a personalized NFL destination featuring information about the players, teams and games fans care about most. Xbox also retains the exclusive rights to extend these interactive experiences to tablets, enabling fans to use Xbox SmartGlass technology to enhance game day.
“When we started working with Roger Goodell and the team at the NFL we knew that we could create great new experiences that fans would love,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “This partnership will redefine NFL experiences through exclusive and interactive content that you will find only on Xbox. For fans, the NFL on Xbox will provide the most complete way to enjoy live football by bringing the first fully-integrated fantasy football experience to the TV, exclusively through Xbox.”
This partnership also changes the game for NFL teams because coaches and players will soon have access to a variety of cutting-edge Microsoft solutions, including Surface tablets to enhance on-field communications, photo viewing and play calling. Microsoft and the NFL envision a sideline of the future with players reviewing in-game photos from different camera angles directly from the sideline and head coaches calling plays off connected Surface tablets instead of today’s static paper products. With Microsoft technology, NFL coaches, players and other personnel will have the technology they need to improve decision-making and on-field performance.
“From the use of instant replay to the yellow first-down line that has become an important element of the at-home television viewing experience, the NFL is committed to leveraging technology to improve our game for coaches, players and fans,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We’re thrilled to be teaming with a true innovator like Microsoft to shape the future of the NFL game experience, both on-field and in the living room.”
As part of the partnership, Surface by Microsoft branding will appear on NFL sidelines in unique ways, including on the hoods of the official on-field NFL instant replay stations. As part of the relationship, Microsoft will be granted the following designations:
- Xbox remains “The Official Game Console of the NFL” and will also become “The Official Interactive Video Entertainment Console.”
- Microsoft is “The Official Sideline Technology Sponsor of the NFL.”
- Surface by Microsoft and Windows are “The Official Tablet and PC Operating System of the NFL.”
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
Posted in From the Sidelines | No Comments »
Taylor Morton, who spent last season as the team’s Director of College Scouting, was promoted to Director of Player Personnel. Morton joined the Rams in May of 2012. With extensive experience in both pro and college scouting, Morton spent 12 seasons as an area scout with the Atlanta Falcons responsible for both the southwest and southeast regions. Prior to becoming a college scout, Morton served in pro personnel as an advance scout for the Falcons’ opponents. Also, Morton has coaching experience after coaching eight years in the college ranks with stints at Auburn University, Hinds and Pearl River community colleges in Mississippi.
Brad Holmes will serve as the new Rams’ Director of College Scouting. Holmes joined the Rams’ personnel department in 2004. He served as the National Combine Scout, covering the Midwest area. He worked as an area scout responsible for the Southeast region for six seasons before Snead promoted him to national scout in 2012.
Posted in From the Sidelines | 2 Comments »
- It came and went as fast as a Tavon Austin cutback but the Rams and their complement of 55 rookies wrapped up their short rookie minicamp on Saturday afternoon after a morning practice sessions that lasted for about two hours.
- The Rams are now done with any and all minicamps in this year’s offseason program. Now, they will turn their attention to finishing the offseason strong with a week of phase two conditioning (field drill work).
- The following week, the Rams will have the entire roster come together for Organized Team Activities. That’s when the real fun begins.
- There is a slight change in procedure from last year when Jeff Fisher was in his first season as head coach. Unlike that time when every possible get together was meaningful because of the new relationships and chemistry that had to form. This year, there will be no minicamp which may come as a surprise to some but Fisher explained after Saturday’s practice.
“After going through the experience last year, I just felt like we could get by with the OTAs,” Fisher said. ”We’ll have 10 OTAs and we are also permitted to have a three-day mandatory minicamp. I thought it was important because of the commitment that they made to have a week off. They come in and work for four or five weeks then come in and take a break for the vets that way we can focus on the rooks. And then it just didn’t leave us time for the minicamp.”
- Fisher went on to say he believes his team can get the needed work done in the time they have without having to go through the strenuous process of the long minicamp days.
“I guess I’m just kind of old fashioned,” Fisher said. ”It’s a long day. In the offseason, I don’t think those things are necessary and particularly it relates directly to the commitment they made to the offseason program. They are here every day, they come in early, stay late, they have fun.”
- Saturday’s practice offered much more in the way of cooperative weather and the Rams got to work under sunny skies as they went through another practice. Some good work in seven on seven and some players flashed their ability. T.J. McDonald had a couple of nice moments in coverage down near the end zone in one on ones.
- Fisher praised rookie CB Brandon McGee for his work in the short time he’s been here, noting that McGee is intelligent and seems to be picking up the scheme quick. Fisher also pointed out that McGee is already working at a couple of positions – slot and on the outside.
- The Rams were a bit light on running backs this weekend as fifth-round pick Zac Stacy was not scheduled to arrive until later this afternoon and thus did not participate in either practice. Fellow RB Benny Cunningham (left knee) also did not practice as he continues to recover from injury.
- Incidentally, Cunningham actually played his high school football in Nashville and was an opponent of Fisher’s youngest son, Trent, in their overlapping times there.
“Yeah and they beat my youngest son’s team, I think in the playoffs so we are going to cut his signing bonus in half,” Fisher said, a sly grin creeping across his face.
- Fisher noted yesterday that Cunningham kept jumping off the screen at him when he’d watch defensive film of other players but said he’d have to go back and look at some home made game film of Cunningham sometime.
“I don’t remember him in the game but I’m going to go back and look at my handheld video camera and look,” Fisher said, presumably joking.
- The Rams originally listed 56 players on their roster for the weekend but one of the tryout players did not make it.
- The rookies have a long road in front of them but Fisher was pleased with their work this weekend. Now, they will have more work to do today before getting a taste of St. Louis tomorrow at the Cardinals-Rockies baseball game.
- That’s all for this weekend. I’ll have feature stories on some of the undrafted rookies looking to make an impact – players like Ray Ray Armstrong, Robert Steeples, Cunningham, Emory Blake and Phillip Steward – this week.
- Thanks for reading. And an early Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms out there.
Posted in From the Sidelines | 3 Comments »
- Although it hasn’t been but a few months or so, it seems like it’s been much longer but the Rams – at least the junior version of them – were back on the field Friday afternoon for the first on field practice session of this weekend’s rookie minicamp.
- Scheduled to appear were 56 rookies, 7 draft picks, 22 undrafted free agents and 27 tryout players.
- Of course, there were a couple of notable adjustments to that list on Friday afternoon.
- Running back Zac Stacy, the team’s fifth-round pick out of Vanderbilt will not arrive until late afternoon tomorrow. He’s got one of the best excuses of all, though: he’s graduating from one of the nation’s finest academic institutes. No worries, though, he’ll be here soon enough.
- As expected OL Barrett Jones, the fourth-round pick out of Alabama, is not participating this week as he still recovers from a foot injury. Coach Jeff Fisher said he’ll continue to participate in meetings and absorbing the playbook as he works on his physical rehab. The same goes for undrafted free agent RB Benjamin Cunningham from Middle Tennessee State. He’s still coming back from a left knee injury.
- Everyone else was present and accounted for.
- Fisher made it clear after practice that this weekend is a bit different because you have two groups: the players that are signed and set to be here for camp and the tryout players. So the goal is to get everyone some work in the classroom and with the playbook and then see how they translate that work to the field. It’s a key part in the evaluation. But with roster spots still available, Fisher said it’s likely the Rams will sign their share of tryout players to the 90-man roster.
- In an effort to help differentiate the players, there was some trickery with jersey numbers. For instance, there’s a tryout DT wearing No. 8 and a tryout WR wearing No. 21. Basically, the idea was to allow for the tryout players to be more easily identified for their evaluations.
- On the field, most of the work done Friday was individual before a session of 7 on 7 at the end.
- After some rainfall this afternoon, the Rams dealt with a slippery field but there were some nice moments for a few players.
- Fisher noted that first-round pick LB Alec Ogletree picked off a pass in his very first snap in one on one drills against tight ends. Ogletree looked like the athlete everyone expected and it appears he’s going to get his first look at this level at SLB.
- Rookie WRs Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey also came as advertised, flashing the slippery route running skills and speed you’d expect. This is their first practice so it’s hard to try to glean too much from anything that occurs.
- Bailey was asked why he opted to wear No. 12, if it was something of a plan he had to be sequential with Austin. He said since he couldn’t wear his college number (3), he wanted to find something else he liked. He said he spoke to Jets QB and his WVU QB Geno Smith and when Smith informed him that he wouldn’t be able to wear his college number (12) in New York, Bailey told him he’d hold it down for him in St. Louis.
- I’ll have more on S Cody Davis of Texas Tech this weekend but had a good conversation with the talented free safety. Asked why he wasn’t drafted, Davis said maybe he’s too “bland” but wasn’t really sure why his college production and workout numbers (he ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the Houston regional combine) wasn’t enough. He said he had a number of offers to play for various teams but opted for the place he felt like he could potentially win a spot.
- Davis also discussed his blog, which can be found at www.thestudentofthegame.blogspot.com . He said he’s not passionate about writing but wanted to give fans a perspective from the player. For what it’s worth, he apologizes for his infrequent posting and promises to do better. Also, for the record, while Davis says he’s “bland,” I’d argue that a 4.37 40 isn’t bland and neither is a guy with a blog featuring pictures of he and his wife with the likes of Snoop Dogg (Lion?) and Frank Caliendo. Check it out if you get a chance.
- Another interesting member of the rookie class is local product CB Robert Steeples. Steeples is from St. Louis and spent a chunk of his college career at Mizzou. He grew up a huge Rams fan and noted that he always wanted to be a cornerback so his favorite Ram when he was a kid wasn’t the usual Faulk or Warner or Bruce. Instead, he was a big fan of CB Todd Lyght. Will have more on him tomorrow also but he noted that before the draft he and his agent made it a point to make a list of the 15 teams where he’d fit the best and have a chance to make the roster. The No. 1 choice? St. Louis.
- Ray Ray Armstrong is working exclusively at weakside linebacker here and said he believes the transition will be relatively easy. He played some LB in high school and said playing there isn’t much different from working as an in the box type of safety. He said what happened in the past is no longer a worry of his and he’s focusing on doing what’s necessary to make the roster.
- For the record, the two players serving as the quarterbacks this weekend are both tryout players: Mitchell Gale of Abilene Christian and Timothy Jenkins of Fort Lewis.
- Rams WR Nick Johnson attended practice for awhile but he’s not participating. Instead, he’s here to support his fellow Henderson State Reddies brethren. The Rams actually have four players from Henderson State here on a tryout basis. That quartet is hoping to join Johnson on the active roster. Johnson came in as an undrafted rookie last year and then spent the year on the practice squad.
- Off to write for tonight. Plenty more on the way. Thanks for reading.
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- With the rookie minicamp set to begin tomorrow, the Rams finalized their list of undrafted free agents on Thursday afternoon.
- Below is the official release from the team with all 22 players listed.
LB Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami
K/P Brett Baer, Louisiana-Lafayette
LB Darren Bates, Auburn
WR Emory Blake, Auburn
OL Braden Brown, BYU
RB Benjamin Cunningham, Middle Tennessee State
S Cody Davis, Texas Tech
DT Garrett Goebel, Ohio State
LS Jorgen Hus, Regina (Canada)
DT Al Lapuaho, Utah State
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn
DE Gerald Rivers, Ole Miss
OL Kevin Saia, Louisiana Tech
S Cannon Smith, Memphis
CB Robert Steeples, Memphis
FB Eric Stevens, Cal
LB Phillip Steward, Houston
LB Jonathan Stewart, Texas A&M
CB Drew Thomas, UTEP
DE R.J. Washington, Oklahoma
CB Darren Woodard, UTEP
Posted in From the Sidelines | 2 Comments »
- Legendary Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace isn’t yet eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame though when his time comes, many believe he’ll be a strong candidate to earn a spot in Canton.
- But Pace has earned college football’s highest honor as it was announced Tuesday morning that he will be a part of the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class.
- Pace is part of a 12-man class that will be inducted in December that also includes Miami Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde, Heisman winner Tommie Frazier of Nebraska, Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel of Florida, Heisman winner Ron Dayne of Wisconsin Ted Brown of North Carolina State; Tedy Bruschi of Arizona; Jerry Gray of Texas; Steve Meilinger of Kentucky; Rod Shoate of Oklahoma; Percy Snow of Michigan State; and Don Trull of Baylor.
§ In 1995 he became the first sophomore to win the Lombardi Award;
§ In 1996 he became the first to ever win the Lombardi Award twice;
§ He was a first-team consensus All-American in 1995 and 1996;
§ He was first-team all-Big Ten Conference in 1995 and 1996;
§ In 1996 he was the first offensive lineman since Ohio State’s John Hicks in 1972 to finish among the Top 4 vote getters for the Heisman Trophy
- Perhaps more than anything, though, Pace is best known for making the “pancake block” famous and entering it into the football lexicon.
- Pancake became the term used for a block in which a defender was knocked to the ground by a blocker. Pace was marked down for an astounding 80 pancake blocks during his junior season which made him one of the few offensive linemen to ever garner legitimate Heisman Trophy consideration as college football’s best player.
- The College Football Hall of Fame is located in South Bend, Indiana. The induction ceremony will take place on Dec. 10 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
Posted in From the Sidelines | 2 Comments »
- With the Rams rookie class set to report to St. Louis on Thursday for this weekend’s rookie minicamp, they’ll be issued their jerseys soon after nd as such, we are giving you a quick sneak peek at what numbers this year’s drafted rookies will wear this weekend and in the future.
- We already knew that first rounders Tavon Austin and Alec Ogletree would wear No. 11 and 52, respectively but now we have a complete list for you.
- Without further ado, here’s the list followed by a couple of quick notes.
WR Tavon Austin – No. 11
LB Alec Ogletree – No. 52
S T.J. McDonald – No. 25
WR Stedman Bailey – No. 12
OL Barrett Jones – No. 67
CB Brandon McGee – No. 32
RB Zac Stacy – No. 30
- Out of that group, none of the rookies were able to retain and wear the number he wore in his final collegiate season. Some of that was a function of NFL rules (such as linebackers not being allowed to wear a single-digit number), some was a function of their previous number already being taken (McGee’s college 21 is taken by Janoris Jenkins) and some are completely off limits (Jones’ college 75 is retired in honor of Deacon Jones).
- The Rams’ receiver corps now actually has more players wearing a number in the 11-19 range than in the 80s with Austin (11), Bailey (12), Chris Givens (13), Nick Johnson (14) and Austin Pettis (18). Of returning wideouts, only Brian Quick (83) and practice squadder Raymond Radway (84) have a number in the 80s.
- McGee was drafted to replace Bradley Fletcher, who departed for Philadelphia in free agency. Coincidentally, he also takes over Fletcher’s No. 32 in the process. Last year, Austin’s No. 11 was worn by Brandon Gibson, Bailey’s No. 12 by Steve Smith and Ogletree’s No. 52 by Justin Cole. The others went unused during the 2012 season.
- It appears that RB Steven Jackson’s No. 39 will be held aside for the time being.
- Thanks for reading.
Posted in From the Sidelines | 7 Comments »
- Greetings once again from the ContinuityX Training Center. We are preparing for the third and final day to get underway here shortly. Rounds four through seven take place today with plenty of good players still available.
- Leading off today will be Jacksonville.
- Kicking this thing off with a trade. Philadelphia leading off now. Have to think this is for a QB.
- The Eagles do indeed go QB. They end the long nightmare for USC QB Matt Barkley.
- Kansas City is now on the clock. The Chiefs actually seemed like a good fit for Barkley. But they can go any number of ways.
- Chiefs make their pick. It’s Alabama LB Nico Johnson. Tough, smart player. Was impressed with him at the Senior Bowl. Makes a lot of sense for Kansas City.
- Oakland up next.
- Tampa Bay traded up as well. They go with DT Akeem Spence from Illinois.
- Jacksonville up next.
- The Jaguars get a returner with some dynamic ability in Ace Sanders. Nice pick for them. Rams had interest there but obviously that interest waned after added Tavon Austin.
- Patriots go with TCU WR Josh Boyce.
- Arizona goes with DE Alex Okafor. Many thought he’d be a possible second rounder so maybe a good value there.
- Miami up next.
- Dolphins go with LB Jelani Jenkins of Florida.
- Buffalo goes with Nevada S Duke Williams.
- Brian Schwenke to Tennessee is a nice pick. Really solid Senior Bowl. Tennessee really loading up to run the ball again with Chris Johnson. Sign Levitre and draft Warmack and Schwenke, solid.
- Carolina drafted a big guard from Valdosta State. I can’t spell his name.
- Green Bay grabs David Bakhtiari.
- Interesting move here as the Giants move up for Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib. Lots of New York love going on with the Giants and the Cuse.
- Pittsburgh is up. Rams are two picks away.
- The Steelers make a very Steelers pick and grab Syracuse S Shamarko Thomas. Athletic, physical player who paid a pre-draft visit to St. Louis.
- Oakland is on the clock.
- The Raiders just took Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson.
- Rams are on the clock.
- The Rams find an intelligent, instinctual replacement for Robert Turner with Alabama’s Barrett Jones. Jones played all over the line for the Crimson Tide and is a nice addition at this point in the draft. He’s not the most athletic or the strongest anchor around but he finds ways to get it done. Expect him to step in as an interior swing man along the lines of the role Turner filled last year.
- Tavon Austin just stopped by the office. #HumbleBrag Some more picks went off the board.
- Thoughts on Jones?
- Bears go with Rutgers LB Khaseem Greene. Nice value for them there and a good scheme fit in Chicago.
- Just got off conference call with Barrett Jones. Impressive young man with a degree and a masters in accounting. He says he’s most comfortable at center. Will have plenty more on him later on.
- A lot of interesting picks here recently. Phillip Thomas off the board and some of the top remaining DEs available.
- Packers have doubled down at RB by grabbing UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin. Nice to pair with Eddie Lacy for them. Given Green Bay’s 10 picks today, they can do just about whatever we want.
- And San Francisco makes the inevitable pick we all expected them to make: Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina. Risk involved sure but very talented player. If he can stay healthy, it’s a potentially great long term selection.
- Detroit with a nice value in South Carolina DE Devin Taylor.
- Kansas City makes a nice pick with Sanders Commings from Georgia. Liked his versatility.
- Jacksonville takes Michigan’s Denard Robinson. Interesting choice. Tough kid.
- Seattle moves up to add to its depth at DT with Alabama’s Jesse Williams. Williams slipped because of knee issues. Good get for them.
- Seahawks again, go with CB Tharold Simon of LSU.
- Rams almost back on the clock. Still some options at a variety of positions. BPA most likely.
- The Rams get some depth at cornerback with Miami’s Brandon McGee. Needed depth at that position with few bodies on the roster.
- Rams have two picks in the sixth to cap their day coming later. Going on a hiatus until later to do conference call with him.
- Keep an eye out for some activity here shortly.
- The Rams have put a bow on their draft class by making a move back into the fifth round. They cut a deal with Houston to get back and get their running back.
- The target? Vanderbilt RB Zac Stacy.
- Stacy is 5’9, 210 pounds with a physical style that allowed him to rush for 1,1141 yards and 10 touchdowns last year for the Commodores.
- Much more to come in a little bit on Stacy but barring something shocking, it appears the Rams have completed their 2013 draft class. Waiting on final details of the trade.
- The current haul: WR Tavon Austin, LB Alec Ogletree, S T.J. McDonald, WR Stedman Bailey, OL Barrett Jones, CB Brandon McGee and RB Zac Stacy.
- That is also the final haul as the Rams gave up both sixth round picks in exchange for Houston’s fifth.
- It’s unlikely they’d trade a pick next year to get back into this draft so it seems likely the Rams are done drafting for this year. They can begin turning attention to the race that is the undrafted free agent derby right after the draft is over.
- Time to make the donuts. Thanks for reading all week.
Posted in From the Sidelines | 21 Comments »
- Well, here we are on Saturday already. Does it still feel like a Sunday to anyone else?
- Today, the NFL Draft will cash out the final four rounds with rounds four through seven taking place today.
- The Rams have four picks today, one in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth. They traded their seventh-round choice to Buffalo in the deal to move up for Tavon Austin. That could mean the Rams are done early today if they don’t make a move back to regain a seventh.
- Through round three, the Rams have filled some needs and strengthened some positions.
Defensively, the Rams no longer have any just openly glaring holes among their starters. They could certainly stand to add some depth at linebacker, safety, defensive tackle and, especially at cornerback. But with Alec Ogletree at OLB and T.J. McDonald at S, they have to feel good about filling in some of the final puzzle pieces for that defense.
Offensively, the focus has been on adding weapons. The Rams did some one stop shopping in Morgantown, West Virginia to do just that by adding multi-dimensional wideouts Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Now, the offense could still use a boost on the interior of the OL as well as at RB. But again, no need is just so pressing that the Rams have to desperately make a pick at any one position.
- Heading into round 4, I’ll remind everyone that the Rams take these final rounds serious. They found some really good players in these rounds last year, including Chris Givens, Greg Zuerlein and Daryl Richardson. So they’ll be looking to add players that can help, not just long term projects.
- Here’s a look at some of the best and most intriguing players still available that will almost certainly come off the board at some point:
QB: Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Bray, Tyler Wilson, Landry Jones, Matt Scott
RB: Marcus Lattimore, Johnathan Franklin, Mike Gillislee, Stepfan Taylor, Zac Stacy, Joseph Randle
WR: Quinton Patton, Denard Robinson, Da’Rick Rogers, Ryan Swope, Chris Harper
TE: Dion Sims, Mychal Rivera, Chris Gragg, Nick Kasa, Levine Toilolo
OL: Barrett Jones, David Bakhtiari, Alvin Bailey, Vinston Painter, Khaled Holmes, David Quassenberry, Jordan Mills, Ricky Wagner, Reid Fragel, Chris Faulk, Oday Aboushi, Earl Watford, J.C. Tretter, Brian Schwenke, Braxston Cave
DT: Jesse Williams, Everett Dawkins, Akeem Spence, Montori Hughes, Josh Boyd, Kwame Geathers, T.J. Barnes
DE: Cornelius Washington, Alex Okafor, Lavar Edwards, John Simon, Michael Buchanan
LB: Khaseem Greene, Trevardo Williams, A.J. Klein, Chase Thomas, Sean Porter, DeVonte Holloman, Gerald Hodges
CB: B.W. Webb, Jordan Poyer, Sanders Commings
S: Shamarko Thomas, Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo, Josh Evans
And that’s just a small sample size of what remains on the board. Should make for an interesting day.
- Once again, we’ll have the live blog up and running throughout the day and give real time picks and analysis for as many of the picks as possible. Thanks for reading.
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- The Rams introduced first-round picks WR Tavon Austin and OLB Alec Ogletree today at a news conference. Here’s the transcript of that press conference.
Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher, General Manager Les Snead,
WR Tavon Austin, and LB Alec Ogletree
Press Conference – April 26, 2013
Jeff Fisher: “Good afternoon everyone, to our friends in the media and to all of our Ram employees who are here. Day Two of the draft is always exciting because we get to go upstairs and pick more players and add to our success in the draft. But secondly, and probably most importantly, it’s an opportunity for you to meet the culmination of a lot of hard work and of course, what took place last night in our two No. 1 draft choices—to my far left, Alec Ogletree, and to my immediate left, Tavon Austin. Welcome them here for us. What we’re going to do is go right to questions and see if anyone has any questions for these new Rams.”
(On what the last 24 hours have been like)
Tavon Austin: “These last 24 hours have been crazy. It’s been a dream come true since I was a kid. I’m thankful that the whole Rams staff made the jump and came and got me. I’m pretty much happy that I’m here now and ready to get to work.”
Alec Ogletree: “Basically the same for me. It was very exciting yesterday to even be a part of the draft this year. I really want to thank the Rams organization for taking a chance on me, and I’m ready to get to work, too.”
(On when the dream of reaching the NFL began)
Austin: “It started when I was seven-years-old. Everybody always has some kind of gift. I’m probably not the biggest guy in the world. I wish I was two inches taller, but I can’t (be). I always stuck with it, this is my dream. There had been times my mother would chase me down. She ran track in her days, and she used to chase me down. I always knew I always had it. It was just a matter of time, just sticking with it and making my dreams come true.”
(On when he realized he was faster than most people)
Austin: “Since I was younger, I’ve always been the type to be the fastest on the team. There have been some teams that I haven’t been the fastest, but I’ve always been one of the quickest guys on the team.”
(On if he realized he was quicker than others as a kid on a playground)
Austin: “Just being outside all day. My grandma and mom would tell me, ‘Don’t run in this house all day.’ So you’re outside, you’re having fun.”
(On if he would have played basketball in high school if he was taller)
Austin: “I played basketball for three years. I started at point guard for two, and then we had a new coach my junior year and I was like a sixth man. Pretty much, I took off my senior year, but I played basketball. Football was my gift, so I had to stay on this route.”
(On if he can dunk)
Austin: “Off a hoop. I can’t grip a ball, but I can dunk off a hoop.”
(On what it means to Austin to be able to improve the lives of his mother and grandmother)
Austin: “That’s my number one goal, to get them out of the hood. I don’t know if they want to leave Baltimore or not, but I’m definitely going to move them to a nice place outside in the county, Harford County, or something like that where it’s a gated community. Pretty much, I know they’re comfortable while I’m here working, and they’re back there just waiting for my game days on Sunday.”
(On the challenge of playing in a division with two mobile quarterbacks)
Ogletree: “I’m definitely up for the challenge. I’m very comfortable in my ability to tackle someone and run them down. I feel like when we’re in between the lines, no one’s faster than me. I feel like everyone’s the same speed, and maybe I’ll even be faster. I definitely look forward to the challenge of facing two of the great quarterbacks in the league this year.”
(On if he could run down Tavon Austin)
Ogletree: “I don’t know. We’re on the same team now, so I won’t have to.”
(On what he says to people who question his size)
Austin: “That’s something I can’t change. I just laugh at it now. Not really laugh, but I just smile and take it in and put it on my shoulders. I’ve been small my whole life. It’s not going to change. I’m 5’ 9”, but my heart plays like I’m six feet. I try to keep that mindset, keep being smart on the field, knowing when to get down, knowing when not to get down, get the first down. That’s really what it boils down to.”
(On if he’s had any contact with QB Sam Bradford since being drafted)
Austin: “As soon as I came into the building, he came in and met me and just said he was happy to meet with me. I said, ‘No, I’m happy to meet with you.’ He’s a taller quarterback. He’s a little bigger than (West Virginia quarterback) Geno (Smith). I’m just proud that I’m here and he took me in. I’m just ready to come now.”
(On if he knew he had to do to prove to the Rams that he was sincere about moving past his mistakes off the field)
Ogletree: “Basically, I just had to let them know that everything was behind me. I’m ready to seize the opportunity that they are willing to give me and like I said, I basically have to move forward.”
(On how difficult it was to wait until the end of the first round to get drafted and if he was concerned that he may not get selected in the first round)
Ogletree: “I was just looking for the opportunity to get my name called. Like I said, Coach (Fisher), they took a chance on me –that’s all I was waiting for. As far as where I got drafted, it didn’t really matter. I just wanted to be drafted.”
(On what happened after Coach Fisher called him to tell him that they were going to select him)
Ogletree: “My mom and dad, everybody was just screaming in the background. As soon as the phone rang they started going crazy. It was fun though. I can say it was worth the wait.”
(On if he had an idea all along that the Rams were interested in drafting him)
Ogletree: “They brought me in for a visit. We had a great talk and a great visit here. Like I said, I was just waiting for my name to be called, whether it was them or anybody else. I’m very thankful that the Rams did call me. I think this is a great place. They have a great team and they look like they’re trying to do something.”
(On what he has to show in order to make the Rams’ decision to take a chance on him worthwhile)
Ogletree: “I just have to come in and perform on the field and try to help this team the best way I can.”
(On what he sees when he gets the ball in space and what allows him to get into the end zone more often)
Austin: “I just go off my instincts. I try to take away a lot of angles. I’ve been doing this for a long time now, so I kind of feel a lot of things that are coming on to me. When I get the ball in my hands, the No. 1 thing is to just have fun, play the game that I always played (since) I was young, just throw and tackle. You against everybody out there, make somebody miss and that’s how I approach the game.”
(On when it became obvious to him that he wanted to play in the NFL)
Ogletree: “It’s been a dream since I was little. My mom can tell you that when I was very little, I told them that when I grew up I wanted to be in the NFL. To get the opportunity to do that, it’s a blessing and I’m just thankful.”
(On if he watched the draft growing up)
Ogletree: “I would watch the draft. I just always wanted to get the opportunity to hear my name called on TV and be a part of the NFL.”
Austin: “Pretty much the same thing. This is my dream, always been my dream. I’m glad around this time that the small wide receivers are in. A couple years ago, I probably wouldn’t be mentioned in this draft right now. I would probably be a free agent and trying to make somebody’s team just to be a gunner. I’m just thankful that the times have changed and now I’m considered one of the elite receivers right now.”
(On if he had to pinch himself when he realized that he was selected No. 8 overall)
Austin: “Yes, I definitely did. I was just sitting there with me and my family. They were taking a lot of D-linemen and O-linemen and I’m just sitting there like, ‘Man, the skill positions aren’t doing anything right now.’ When the coaches and the G.M. (General Manager Les Snead) called my name I was really happy. My family was happy for me. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
(On what his private workouts with the Rams were like and if he was nervous)
Austin: “When I came out here, we pretty much hit it on point. I think this was the place that I wanted to be with (Wide Receivers) Coach (Ray) Sherman and Coach (Fisher), and everybody. They took me in like I was family. Then, when they came down to Morgantown, they didn’t really show too much emotion. They kept everything quiet. I think I did a pretty good job coming in and out of my breaks and catching the ball for them. The quarterbacks were kind of smiling a lot, as far as the coaches, they weren’t giving it up at all.”
(On if he was nervous during his workouts with the Rams in Morgantown considering their quiet demeanor)
Austin: “I was a little nervous. At the end of the day I was like, ‘Am I doing good? They’re not saying anything.’ But I felt like I was OK.”
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