– The Rams kicked off their third and final minicamp of the offseason on Tuesday. The minicamp is mandatory for all players and is the final benchmark of the offseason program before the team returns for training camp in late July.
– Plenty of news and notes to get to from today so let’s dive right into it.
– First, as reported in this space last week, C Scott Wells is dealing with an injury issue. Coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged on Tuesday that Wells had a knee scope a few weeks back. Wells has other important things to tend to that Fisher did not want to reveal without Wells’ permission. It’s nothing bad, of course, but out of respect for Wells and his wife, it’s best to just know that while Wells did have a knee scope that Fisher said would have kept him out of this week’s minicamp and the OTAs, he also has an excused absence for more pressing issues.
– And again, Wells is expected to be present and fully healthy in time for training camp.
– TE Michael Hoomanawanui again worked on the sidelines during Tuesday’s practice. He is expected to return to action in training camp. TE Lance Kendricks left practice early with some sort of issue. It appeared to be a hand or wrist but didn’t seem serious.
– CB Cortland Finnegan was held out again because of an apparent hand/wrist issue.
– On to the happenings on the field:
– It’s very clear that Fisher feels good about what’s been installed. In fact, almost if not all of the offense and defense has been installed and Fisher and the Rams seem to be working on a little bit of everything. They wasted no time diving into team drills Tuesday afternoon and had a number of long team periods.
– Likewise, I’ve mentioned it before but it remains as clear as ever, Fisher doesn’t hesitate to match his first units against each other. It makes for some great competition and both sides really get into it. Don’t believe me? On one pass down the middle, QB Sam Bradford threaded the needle between two defenders to Kendricks but MLB James Laurinaitis who had dropped deep in coverage got a hand in the way at the last second and S Darian Stewart came over the top to force an incompletion. The entire defense was fired up and whoopin’ and hollerin’ after the play.
– I don’t know if I take him for granted but it certainly merits mentioning here that WR Danny Amendola has done nothing but be consistently excellent throughout this camp. He catches everything but he actually looks a bit quicker and he’s bulked up some, presumably to help take some of the pounding he gets from going across the middle.
– Brian Quick and Greg Salas had some nice moments during one on one passing drills. Salas made a one-handed grab on a fade route to the sideline over Janoris Jenkins and Quick ran some nice deep dig routes for catches.
– WR Danario Alexander has been back in action for a week or so and is back to showing some of his usual tricks. He made a nice touchdown grab in red zone drills, tapping his toes inside the back of the end zone for six on a ball that was up and away in a place only he could catch it.
– Fisher was asked Tuesday about stopping the run and made it a point to acknowledge that defensive run techniques have been a point of emphasis throughout this offseason, particularly with the defensive line. Fisher said that although it’s hard to gauge because his team hasn’t been wearing pads, he’s been pleased with the progressn and understanding his team has of run fits and techniques in the new scheme.
– RB Steven Jackson talked to the media today and had some interesting takes on a number of topics. I’ll have a story on Steven’s state of the union tomorrow but here’s a little something to quench your thirst. I asked Steven if there were any young players returning from last year’s team that caught his eye and seem to have improved. While acknowledging that no pads have been worn yet, here’s what he had to say:
“That’s more of a question I could answer in August or September but I am very excited, who I am looking forward to watching this year is Robert Quinn,” Jackson said. “I think he’s a natural pass rusher. I think working on the opposite side of Chris Long and the coaching he’s receiving right now, I am really looking forward to him having a breakout season. If there’s anybody I would tell our fans to look out for it would be Robert.”
– Coincidentally, I also planned to write about Quinn this week and had a good chat with him today as well. He said he’s actually dropped 5 pounds in an effort to get a little quicker off the edge and though he knows that will draw questions about his ability to stop the run consistently, he believes that improved technique from DL coach Mike Waufle will help him with that.
– CB Bradley Fletcher said he is ahead of schedule in terms of his rehabilitation but he also said that he isn’t quite where he wants to be. In fact, Fletcher said he’s starting to feel as close to healthy as he had all offseason but he’s not quite there yet. I’ll have more on Fletcher this week as well but he knows this is a big year for him and he’s going to be in the middle of a very heated competition outside.
– I also got a chance to catch up with T Rodger Saffold (who yet again, I will be writing about later this week). I mentioned a while back that Saffold looked noticeably bigger. In talking to him today, not only was that clear but he made it known that he’s put on about 10-12 pounds of pure muscle, most of which appears to be in his upper body. He just plain looks big and strong. I asked Saffold if the impetus for putting on the muscle was to help in any certain area, particularly against the bull rush, something he openly acknowledged was an issue last year.
Saffold said that he sat down with new OL coach Paul Boudreau his first day in the building with him and Boudreau showed him a technique issue he had against that particular rush. It was as simple as that. As for the added weight, Saffold made it clear that this offense requires bigger, stronger, meaner and that means in the run game as well. So to be more physical, he felt it necessary to bulk up. I’m not kidding when I say Saffold looks much stronger. He said he’s at about 325 pounds now. Again, more on Saffold later this week.
– That’s going to do it for today. Be sure to stay tuned all week for more updates and coverage from this minicamp. The Rams are back at it tomorrow afternoon. As always, take all observations from the practice field with a grain of salt in knowing these guys aren’t in pads and going full blast just yet. Also, as always, thanks for reading.
Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »