– The Rams just got finished with Friday’s OTA, No. 6 overall. Now, they will depart for a week before resuming with OTA No. 7 on June 5.
– Coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday that about 70 percent of the offense and defense had been installed and with another OTA in the books, it’s safe to assume the team moved closer on Friday.
– Most of the non-participants from Wednesday remained the same. C Scott Wells was still not present because of an excused absence.
– DT Michael Brockers, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Danario Alexander, CB Josh Gordy, S Matt Daniels, LT Rodger Saffold and DT Trevor Laws were all limited or did not practice.
– DE Chris Long also did not practice.
– Same for DT Darell Scott. Scott had a walking boot on his right foot.
– Fisher is not available to talk on Fridays so the reasons for the addition to the list were unclear.
– If there’s a benefit to some guys missing time at this time of the year, it’s that it creates opportunities for others to get some reps with the top team. For example, Jermelle Cudjo, coming off a back injury that kept him out last year, took some turns with the top unit.
– Robert Turner has worked as the first team center without Wells and the Rams continue to work out a variety of different looks on the offensive line at guard and tackle.
– A lot of work done on Friday was in the red zone. One thing Fisher seems to like doing is having his No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense square off. On Friday, the offense looked as sharp as it has in the handful of time that the team has been back on the practice field.
– QB Sam Bradford had one of his better days and seemed to be making quick, decisive throws that were on target.
– WR Michael Campbell, who came to the Rams as a tryout guy continues to impress. He seems to have a knack for getting open and making catches but it’s important to remember these guys are in shorts and jerseys and he’s going up against guys lower on the depth chart at CB.
– WR Greg Salas bounced back from an early drop with a nice touchdown grab between defenders as Bradford threaded the needle.
– Steve Smith had a nice TD grab on a long pass from Bradford in the two minute drill.
– A few plays later, rookie CB Trumaine Johnson went one up with WR Brian Quick on a deep ball and made a picture perfect pass breakup in the end zone. One thing very evident without pads is that the rookie CBs have some serious ball skills. We’ll see how it translates.
– As always, everything that happens in these practices should be taken with a big grain of salt. No pads and most of the work is install work. It’s competitive, sure, but it’s a preparation for training camp.
– Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.
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– The Rams got back on the practice field Wednesday morning for their fifth OTA of the offseason. They went through about a two hour workout in which coach Jeff Fisher said they got a lot done. That included some situational work in the red zone as well as having the offense backed up on its own goal line.
– For the back against the wall drill, Fisher had the team provide the crowd noise, later joking that it was a way to save on electricity bills instead of setting up speakers and having crowd noise pumped in.
“We have a fairly good rookie class, voice wise,” Fisher said, laughing. “We could have got some more out of them but I thought we got a lot done the past two days.”
– The good news for the Rams was they got back some rookies who had been missing including WRs Brian Quick and Chris Givens. That duo along with RB Isaiah Pead had participated in the Rookie Premiere event in Los Angeles last week and missed two OTAs for it. Pead is back in Cincinnati finishing up school as the Bearcats use a quarters system.
– Those that did not practice fully Wednesday for injury issues: CB Josh Gordy, S Matt Daniels, LT Rodger Saffold, WR Danario Alexander, TE Mike Hoomanawanui, DT Michael Brockers and DT Trevor Laws.
– Fisher said the Rams wanted to “back off” on Brockers a bit. He appeared to agitate something a week ago and Fisher said he has some soreness. It’s not considered serious.
– C Scott Wells also did not practice for what Fisher called an excused absence.
– Quick and Givens returned Sunday though Quick ended up on a redeye flight after missing his initial flight. He didn’t hear his flight called because of a new pair of headphones and ended up traveling through the night to return to St. Louis.
– Both players appeared to be working overtime to get up to speed upon their return. Quick spent about 20 minutes working exclusively with QB Sam Bradford after practice. Givens also spent time catching balls from Kellen Clemens, Austin Davis and Tom Brandstater.
“By the end of the week it will be almost as if they never left,” Fisher said. “But still, you miss them, they miss some valuable opportunities.”
– The installation of the offense and defense continues this week. Fisher said Wednesday that the goal remains to have everything in by the time the OTAs and minicamps wrap up in mid-June. He estimated that about 70 percent of the offense and defense has been installed already.
– Some quick hit observations from practice:
– CB Janoris Jenkins continues to make a strong impression and is starting to get some run with the top defensive unit.
– Perhaps the idea that the Rams are set with their top 6 CBs have been a little exaggerated. Young CB Kendric Burney is making an impression and turning some heads with his competitiveness. He’s not the biggest guy out there but he’s showed some resilience and toughness in passing drills.
– The Rams are in the midst of what figures to be an intriguing battle at TE. Right now, Lance Kendricks is filling the ‘move’ TE role while Matt Mulligan is handling the inline duties with the first team. But there are “all shapes and sizes” as Fisher says there and the competition should only increase in the coming weeks. I’ll have more on this topic in a feature story later in the week.
– Undrafted rookie TE Jamie Childers is one of the guys below the radar in that mix trying to make a name for himself. He’s showed some soft hands in the early going.
– As always, take everything with a grain of salt. The goal here is to install the systems, teach everyone how practice is supposed to go and to ultimately prepare everyone for training camp. This isn’t necessarily preparation for the season so much as it’s preparation for the dog days of July and August.
– Back on Friday with more from that workout. The Rams have another OTA then and then get next week off (save for the rookies) before resuming OTAs in June.
– Thanks for reading.
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– The Rams continued to bulk up the roster via any means necessary late last week when they put in a claim on released Indianapolis tight end Brody Eldridge.
– Eldridge comes to the Rams from the Colts, where he was a fifth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma.
– In his two seasons in Indy, Eldridge built a reputation as a strong in line blocker. At 6’5, 265 pounds, he certainly looks the part and had some success in that role for Indianapolis.
– On the flip side, Eldridge hasn’t been used much as a receiving target early in his career. He’s started 16 games over two seasons while appearing in 27.
– In that time, Eldridge has 14 catches for 84 yards.
– For the Rams, Eldridge will challenge for a roster spot amongst a large group of young tight ends looking to solidify spots. In traditional Jeff Fisher coached teams, he’s always wanted to have a “move” tight end who can block out in space and catch passes along with a solid in line blocker who can serve as a de facto third tackle.
– Here, it appears that Lance Kendricks will be the most likely candidate to fill the “move” role but the competition for the other spots will be heated. Mike Hoomanawanui is still returning from injury but has showed ability as an inline blocker and solid pass catcher. But free agent addition Matt Mulligan and Eldridge seem poised to compete with Hoomanawanui and a young group of undrafted free agents that includes UCLA’s Cory Harkey (another noted strong in line blocker).
– The Rams will be on the practice field for another OTA today. Updates to come in this space later.
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– The Rams just wrapped up their second of 10 Organized Team Activities and with nearly a full 90-man roster on the field, it’s a bit crowded at the Continuity X Training Center.
– For the coaching staff, this time of year is a joy. They get to be out on the field coaching the team of which most of the players will form the team come September. Head coach Jeff Fisher falls in that line as well and it’s clear he’s happy to be back on the field.
“It’s the first time the rookies got to meet the vets and the vets got to meet the rookies,” Fisher said. “From that point on, it went very smooth. I was really pleased with what we got done yesterday. We added a bunch of things today. We have a lot of base in, we’ve got third down, we got the red zone today. We have thrown a lot at them but they have responded very well and they are practicing very well together.”
– There have already been a few alterations to the roster after the Rams signed veteran tackle Barry Richardson and linebacker Mario Haggan yesterday. Still, the Rams aren’t quite at the 90-player limit. On Wednesday, a number of players weren’t in attendance. Here’s the rundown:
– WR Brian Quick, WR Chris Givens and RB Isaiah Pead were in California for a rookie event signing autographs, getting their pictures taken for football cards, etc. Quick and Givens will return next week but Pead can’t return until June 7 after he goes back to Cincinnati to finish school.
– Pead, RB Nick Schweiger, TE Cory Harkey and P Johnny Hekker are all on the quarter system and won’t return until their class has taken their final round of tests in June.
– LB Derrick Choice, an undrafted free agent from Stephen F. Austin, met with Fisher on Wednesday morning and let him know that he is all out of football. Choice was waived on Tuesday afternoon after opting to leave the game.
“He decided he’d had enough football,” Fisher said. “He decided he wanted to go on and go back to school or start a career. You’ve got to respect somebody that can walk away with his head up and that’s what he did this morning.”
– Fisher likes to have some fun with his rookies so he has them introduce themselves in a unique way:
“You have them stand up and say their name, position and school, his favorite movie, the name of his first pet and what happened to it and his nickname…it was good,” Fisher said.
– On the injury front:
LT Rodger Saffold has not been fully cleared yet from his pectoral injury. He was limited Wednesday with Kevin Hughes taking reps in his place. Saffold is very close according to Fisher.
WR Danario Alexander also was limited (hamstring).
S Matt Daniels had a knee scope about seven weeks ago and the Rams are “backing” him down a little to ensure he makes a complete recovery. He did not practice Wednesday.
TE/FB Ben Guidugli is wearing a walking boot on his right foot and also did not practice. Fisher said he has a foot issue that he’s working through.
– RT Jason Smith is taking his fresh start serious. He switched his jersey number from 77 to 72. Rookie OT Joe Long is now wearing 77.
– As for the action on the field, the Rams got a lot done with a couple of standouts from a few of the passing drills.
– CB Josh Gordy is still working with the first team as the likes of Bradley Fletcher recovers from injury and the rookies such as Janoris Jenkins settle in. It’s been widely assumed that Jenkins will eventually win the job opposite Cortland Finnegan and though that still seems likely, Gordy doesn’t seem willing to just hand over the gig. He had a number of pass breakups during Wednesday’s practice.
– WR Greg Salas is coming off a serious leg injury but you wouldn’t know it watching him on Wednesday. He made a few grabs for touchdowns during some red zone work including one perfectly run route where he turned Fletcher inside out.
– The competition at left guard is only just beginning. I’ll have more in a story for this site later today but it’s starting to heat up. Fisher acknowledged that a number of players will get a shot there. For today, it was mostly Bryan Mattison getting the work there.
– Not much hesitation throwing rookie DT Michael Brockers in the fire. He got some work with the top unit on Wednesday.
– That’s going to do it for today. Thanks for reading. I’ll be out of pocket until early next week but will be back with updates for next week’s OTAs.
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– In the search for more depth at outside linebacker and on the offensive line, the Rams added a pair of veterans on Tuesday afternoon. Linebacker Mario Haggan, who was most recently with Denver, and offensive tackle Barry Richardson, who spent his first four seasons with Kansas City, inked deals with the Rams soon after the team completed its first OTA Tuesday morning.
– Haggan is a nine-year veteran who spent his first five seasons in Buffalo before spending the last four with the Broncos. For the Bills, Haggan was mostly a special teams player before he moved to Denver as a free agent.
– In 2009, Haggan became a starter at strongside linebacker, posting 63 tackles and three forced fumbles. The following year he had his best season, coming up with 87 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles.
– Haggan figures to get a look on the strong side where Josh Hull is currently taking the reps with the top unit. Listed at 6’3, 274 pounds, the 32-year old Haggan provides an imposing presence on the strong side. He figures into the mix to provide depth and potentially compete for a starting spot on the strong side for the Rams.
– Richardson was originally a sixth round pick by Kansas City in 2008. He started just one game in his first two years before becoming a full time starter on the right side in 2010. Over the past two seasons, Richardson started every game at right tackle for the Chiefs.
– Listed at 6’6, 319 pounds, Richardson figures to provide depth for the Rams at tackle and could potentially get an opportunity to work at guard. Jason Smith is the starter right now at right tackle with Rodger Saffold on the left side. Quinn Ojinnaka is the only other veteran at tackle on the roster.
– Richardson visited the Rams on a free agent trip earlier in the offseason.
– Haggan and Richardson are expected to join the team for OTA No. 2 tomorrow.
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– The Rams just got off the practice field for Saturday’s final rookie minicamp practice. Coach Jeff Fisher was pleased with how his group got oriented to the way he wants things done and said everything went smoothly.
– Now, the rookies will have a few more meetings this afternoon before calling it a camp. On Sunday, they will be headed to the Cardinals game to watch the Redbirds take on the Braves. Then, back to work on Monday in anticipation of the Tuesday arrival of the veterans for the beginning of OTAs. That’s when the real fun begins.
– In the meantime, Fisher was happy with what was accomplished the past couple of days…
“We basically saw what we expected to see out there,” Fisher said. “We’ve got a long way to go, a lot of improvement to make. But I was pleasantly surprised with how they were able to absorb all the information and bring it to the practice field.”
– K Greg Zuerlein and punter Johnny Hekker didn’t do much kicking at all this weekend. Fisher said he wanted them to get some mechanical work before they started booting balls. That will likely happen at the upcoming OTAs.
– A few quick second day impressions from this camp:
One player the media will certainly be rooting for (and you would too if you got to meet him) is LSU G T-Bob Hebert. Talk about charisma. Hebert charmed the local media for about 10 minutes in an interview after practice, discussing his cajun roots and some of the misunderstanding that occurred because he doesn’t have the Cajun background of his family (he spent most of his childhood in Georgia). In one childhood story, Hebert’s grandfather said to him “Grabbabat” (not sure how to spell the cajun version). Hebert asked his grandfather multiple times what he was saying before he went out to his garage and got a baseball bat. When he returned, he was informed that he was supposed to be taking a bath.
On the field, it appears the Rams might have a pair of promising young safeties in Duke’s Matt Daniels and Virginia’s Rodney McLeod. Both continued to look the part in Saturday’s practice making good reads and getting to the ball. They actually complement each other quite well. Daniels is a big, physical player with a knack for hard hits. McLeod is an athlete who can cover ground on the back end. Keep an eye on these two.
Tip of the cap to Daniels, too. He’s heading back to Durham to graduate with his class tomorrow with a degree in Public Policy. He has designs on a political career when he’s done with football (which might not be for awhile).
WR Brian Quick might not have made as many flashy plays on Saturday as he did on Friday but he was better in some ways, according to Fisher. He said Quick “settled down” some and Quick was again smooth and solid running routes and catching passes.
Not much changed from yesterday in terms of the cornerbacks. Both Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins again looked smooth and polished in passing drills. Expect that to become a familiar refrain.
Watched the Rams work a number of players on punt return and many of them looked capable. Not sure if they’ll want to use him there if he’s starting but Jenkins absolutely looks like a natural returner. Even if it doesn’t become his permanent job, he’d merit getting the occasional chance back there because he seems to have the juice to bring a dynamic element in the return game.
QB Austin Davis had a solid first weekend. Fisher was pleased with his performance. Davis was a bit scattershot on Friday but seemed to be settled and more accurate on Saturday.
Another sleeper to keep an eye on: WR Nick Johnson of Henderson State. He is quick and had a nice day Saturday.
Still hard to glean much if anything from the two lines without pads and hitting.
We’ll know a lot more this coming week when the veterans return. Will be interesting to see how the rookies stack up then. Still a long way to go for this group to prove itself.
– Thanks for reading. Check back for updates throughout the week.
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– The Rams just put the finishing touches on their first full length practice of what coach Jeff Fisher is calling rookie “orientation.” Orientation, minicamp, whatever you want to call it, the 39 rookies that took to the field on Friday afternoon are all out to make a strong first impression on Fisher and his coaching staff.
– Although the Rams aren’t flush with players this weekend, they did get into some “real” football on Friday afternoon. That included plenty of passing drills and even some 11 on 11.
“The vet session was a month ago and they weren’t ready for it,” Fisher said. “These guys have been doing enough. Part of the process here is you go out and put them in a drill and then you go back inside and critique and correct it. You stand up there and tell them how we practice and then go out, it doesn’t get accomplished. It’s easier to teach it on film. We don’t have great numbers so we have to limit reps and such but overall we are pleased.”
– If nothing else, there was a noticeable influx of size and speed on the field in the form of this rookie class on Friday. It was clearly evident to the naked eye and could be seen all over the field.
A few thoughts and observations from the first day:
– The Rams are going to be MUCH faster this year. The difference is very noticeable. Chris Givens might already be the fastest player on the team but he’ll get pushed every step of the way of that by the likes of Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson and Janoris Jenkins.
– WR Brian Quick looked smooth and much more polished than expected. Not saying he’s anywhere near a finished product but he ran good routes and he’s plenty fast enough to become a big time play maker.
– There might not be a more impressive player here than Jenkins. Watching him run with receivers deep is impressive enough but here’s what he does really well: when a receiver breaks off a route, Jenkins stops, turns his hips and drives to the ball and the player in an unbelievably smooth way. He’s thickly built and just seems to have all the physical tools to be the type of lockdown corner that many thought he could be coming out of college.
– CB Trumaine Johnson, Quick and DT Michael Brockers really stand out as guys that look the part. Hard to evaluate Brockers in this type of setting because there aren’t any real block and tackle situations but he looks ready to go.
– Safeties Matt Daniels and Rodney McLeod had some nice moments, coming up with pass breakups on some intermediate routes over the middle.
– As for the two wideouts – Quick and Givens. Fisher said he saw a lot to like out of his potential future wideout duo in its first practice.
“The same thing we saw from Brian at the workout (we saw today),” Fisher said. “He’s got really good hands for a big guy, he’s got good hand-eye coordination. He’s learned well. He’s running good routes already. Then Chris, Chris can run. He can really run and he’s made plays. Those two should be able to contribute this year.”
– That’s all for tonight. Back with more tomorrow.
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– The Rams began their rookie minicamp on Friday though coach Jeff Fisher is thinking of it more as an “orientation” than anything. It’s a chance for the rookies to get acclimated to how practices will go and get familiar with their surroundings in addition to getting a first look at their playbooks and meet teammates and coaches.
– The group is 39 players deep with one returning player from last year in practice squad center Tim Barnes, four tryout players, 24 undrafted rookie free agents and the 10 drafted players from April’s NFL Draft.
– The setup for this weekend allows the group to come in, get an idea of how things will go and then dive into OTAs and the final minicamp uninterrupted. That setup should make for a more smooth transition for the rookie group.
– On Friday, the group went through a walk through in the morning and a practice in the afternoon. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the rookies are lining up and working:
QB: Austin Davis, Barrett Trotter (tryout)
RB: Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson, Calvin Middleton, Nick Schwieger
FB: Todd Anderson
WR: Brian Quick, Nick Johnson, Mike Campbell (tryout)
WR: Chris Givens, Tony Logan (tryout), Travis Simpson (tryout)
TE: Corey Harkey, DeAngelo Peterson, Jamie Childers
LT: Joe Long
LG: T-Bob Hebert
C: Tim Barnes
RG: Michael Hay
RT: Rokevious Watkins
DE: Jamaar Jarrett
DT: Matt Conrath
DT: Michael Brockers
DE: Scott Smith
SLB: Sammy Brown
MLB: Noah Keller, Alex Hoffman-Ellis,
WLB: Aaron Brown, Derrick Choice
CB: Trumaine Johnson
CB: Janoris Jenkins, Jeremy Caldwell
SS: Matt Daniels, Rodney McLeod
FS: Quinton Pointer
K: Greg Zuerlein
P: John Hekker
LS: Travis Tripucka
Of course, many will move around and work at various positions not only this weekend but especially when the veterans arrive next week.
– More updates today and tomorrow as this wraps up on Saturday afternoon.
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– The Rams will kick off their rookie minicamp on Friday afternoon but the players will be arriving to town tonight. All told, there will be 39 Rams on the field this weekend with the only non true rookie being center Tim Barnes, who finished last year on the practice squad.
– In addition to the drafted and undrafted rookies, the Rams have at least four players coming on a tryout basis in hopes of earning a shot at an undrafted rookie contract to return for OTAs, the veteran minicamp and training camp.
– Here’s the list of those tryout players…
– Auburn QB Barrett Trotter – Asked to fill the big shoes of Cam Newton as the starter for Auburn in 2011 and finished with 1,184 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions for a rating of 129.2.
– Temple WR Mike Campbell – Spent time on the Jets practice squad in 2011 after entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011.
– Maryland WR Tony Logan – Undrafted free agent had nine catches for 68 yards in 2011 but showed most of his value as a returner. Had two punt returns for touchdowns in 2010.
– Arizona State WR Travis Simpson – Undrafted free agent who missed entire 2011 season with a knee injury. Had 29 catches for 481 yards as a junior.
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– The Rams finally announced the signings of 23 undrafted free agents, all of whom are expected to participate in this weekend’s rookie minicamp on Tuesday afternoon. Below is the official release with a little information on each addition.
Matt Conrath, DT, Virgina – First-team All-ACC pick and ranked third among all ACC defensive linemen with 64 total tackles in his senior season. Also made an impact on special teams with three blocked field goals in 2011.
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