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Preseason TV Affiliates

Posted by nickwagoner on July 31, 2012 – 7:22 PM

- Do you live in a market outside of the St. Louis region but want to get first look at the Rams? Well, the Rams have added some new affiliates that will carry their preseason games this season.

- Below is a list of the markets and stations that will carry the Rams’ preseason contests.

TELEVISION NETWORK

STATE

KYOU (FOX)- Ottumwa/Kirksville 

IA/MO

WRSP/WBUI-Springfield-(FOX/CW) 

IL

WGEM (NBC/FOX/CW)-Quincy/Hannibal/Keokuk                                     KHQA

IL/MO

WTVW (ABC/IND)- Evansville 

IN

KMIZ (ABC) KQFX-(FOX) KZOU                         (MY NETWORK)- Columbia          

MO

KRBK-(FOX) Springfield 

MO

KFJX (FOX)- Joplin/Pittsburg

MO

KTVI- (FOX/KPLR)- St. Louis

MO

KFVS/WQWQ (IND)- Cape Girardeau/Paducah

MO/KY

KWTV (CBS)- Oklahoma City                                KOKH (FOX)- Oklahoma City

OK

KOTV/KTUL (ABC)- Tulsa

OK

WAOE (MY)- Peoria/Bloomington

IL


Posted in From the Sidelines | 3 Comments »

Rams Settle Into Routine

Posted by nickwagoner on July 30, 2012 – 11:48 PM

- With the pomp and circumstance of the first day of training camp behind them, the Rams got back to work on Monday afternoon for another two-plus hour training camp practice. Much like the first day, coach Jeff Fisher was pleased with his team’s work.

- One thing the Rams have definitely benefited from early in camp is a nice relief in the weather. Monday was overcast with a short drizzle and kept temperatures down. The players certainly appreciate that.

- On the missing in action list (let’s not call it the injured list yet), the Rams had only one slight change but it was a positive one. G Rokevious Watkins is inching closer to getting back on the practice field full time as his conditioning level has improved. He did not take part in team drills on Monday but he did participate in some individual work. He could return on a full time basis as soon as Tuesday.

- Receiver Danario Alexander (hamstring), running back Daryl Richardson (leg) and C Scott Wells (knee) did not participate.

- As for the practice itself, the Rams had some positive production from some young players on a day when they worked a lot of red zone situations.

- During that red zone period, the offense had some really good signs and a couple of bad ones.

- Rookie WR Brian Quick, who struggled some on Sunday, bounced back with his best day of this young camp (including the three rookie practices last week) and hauled in some nice catches including a beautiful route and catch on a fade in the corner of the end zone during red zone work. Quick isn’t being handed anything in terms of a starting job but Monday was a step in the right direction.

- Fellow rookie WR Chris Givens beat CB Trumaine Johnson on a long ball and appeared to have a touchdown but Johnson recovered to knock the ball loose at the last second. It was one of those double edge sword plays where Givens should have had the ball but Johnson’s effort was impressive.

- Up front, DEs Chris Long and Robert Quinn again seemed to be a step ahead of everyone else.

- One thing that this coaching staff does not tolerate: false start penalties. Any player committing one of those infractions is immediately sent off and replaced. T Jason Smith had one in the red zone and let’s just say OL coach Paul Boudreau did not think too fondly of it.

- Spent some time with WR Greg Salas after practice today. Salas continues to look good out there and is making a seamless transition to the outside after spending most of his rookie season in the slot. Salas told me that he played on the outside quite a bit at Hawaii but was a little rusty early on. He said it’s just a matter of sharpening his technique and getting back up to speed on beating press coverage and other fundamentals that go with taking on corners instead of the occasional linebacker or safety in the slot.

- I mentioned DT Matt Conrath as a guy to look out for as a sleeper on defense. Let me add another name which has been mentioned in the chat before: CB Kendric Burney. He’s not the biggest or the fastest but he’s tough and he’s attached himself to the hip of Cortland Finnegan, a player who was once described in a similar manner. For those that believe the six corners are set in stone and the only question is how they’ll line up, Burney believes he can prove you wrong. I’ll have more on Burney coming in the next few days on the front of the site.

- At linebacker right now, it’s Jo-Lonn Dunbar on the weak side and Mario Haggan on the strong side. Rocky McIntosh is still getting re-acclimated to the defense (he was in it for a short period with Gregg Williams in Washington). When he does, expect the competition to heat up on the outside.

- Nothing new to report on MLB James Laurinaitis and his contract. Stay tuned though because it seems something could happen just about any day now.

- Failed to mention yesterday that Robert Turner is taking the reps with the first team at center right now with Wells out. Some had thought Turner would be in the mix for the left guard job but it seems the Rams prefer him as their inside swingman who can capably backup at either guard spot or center.

- Quinn Ojinnaka continues to get the first look inside at left guard.

- The pads are coming soon and it should be a lot more telling how these guys all stack up once that happens. As always, in the meantime take any observations with a grain of salt.

- Thanks as always for reading. Back tomorrow with more.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 2 Comments »

First Practice in the Books

Posted by nickwagoner on July 30, 2012 – 12:03 AM

- In what turned out to be a busy, whirlwind day at ContinuityX Training Center, the Rams made it through their first official, full squad training camp workout without any issues. In front of a crowd estimated at about 1,600 fans, the Rams went through about a two-plus hour practice before calling it a day.

- In case you missed it earlier, the Rams struck an agreement with DE Chris Long on a four-year extension. The extension kicks in for the 2013 season and takes Long through the 2016 season. I’ll have a full story on Long on the front page later this evening with quotes.

- Interestingly enough, Rams coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged the Rams are working on “more” deals. He was undoubtedly referring to contract talks with MLB James Laurinaitis. Don’t be shocked if that’s done sooner than later.

- As for the happenings on the field, let’s get down to business:

- On the injury front, the Rams did not have the services of WR Danario Alexander (hamstring), RB Daryl Richardson (hamstring), C Scott Wells (knee) and G Rokevious Watkins (conditioning). Fisher indicated that Alexander, Richardson and Watkins would be back in short order. The team will be more cautious with Wells, as expected.

- Otherwise, the Rams turned out all 89 players on the roster with 85 participating in practice and seemed to make it through the workout just fine.

- Let’s start by saying again the Rams are not yet in full pads – that happens Wednesday when the league rules first allow – so any of the following observations need a grain of salt but there were some really positive things out there today.

- First, this was as dialed in as QB Sam Bradford has been in this regime. He was flat out spinning the rock in team drills and seven on seven. Several of his throws drew oohs and aahs from his teammates and exasperated looks and reactions from defenders. There is something to be said for having a full offseason and it’s clear Bradford’s comfort level in this offense is miles ahead of where it was at this time last year in Josh McDaniels’ offense with no offseason program.

- RB Steven Jackson has dropped some weight and is down to about 234 pounds. The guy is always in great shape but said he wanted to be in even better shape than normal this year so he can handle the large workload that is inevitably coming his way. He’s pleased about the signing of FB Ovie Mughelli as well, not that that’s a surprise.

- The Rams were rotating receivers regularly throughout the practice so it was hard to get a read on anything but they did give a handful of players opportunities. Most often, it was Brandon Gibson, Steve Smith and Danny Amendola in three receiver sets. But there were combinations that included Greg Salas often as well as Brian Quick, Chris Givens and Austin Pettis.

- Gibson did what he always does in camp and got off to a good start with some impressive catches in team drills.

- Quinn Ojinnaka got first crack at left guard.

- On defense, the Rams used Jo-Lonn Dunbar at WLB and Mario Haggan at SLB. Nothing is set in stone, obviously but that’s how things started. In nickel packages, the Rams had Bradley Fletcher and Janoris Jenkins on the outside with Cortland Finnegan in the slot. It’s Finnegan and Jenkins in the base. Craig Dahl got the work with the top defense at safety alongside Quintin Mikell.

- Want a (way too) early sleeper to watch when the pads come on? Try DT Matt Conrath. There’s an opening for a fourth defensive tackle, if not a fifth.

- Rookie K Greg Zuerlein drew some attention for some of his thunderous boots, including a number that almost hit the camera man perched on the top of the lift taping practice behind the goal posts.

- I’ll have more on new FB Ovie Mughelli this week but let’s just say he’s a character who was a lot of fun to talk to. He also believes he has a lot of football left and has a great relationship with Jackson.

- On Laurinaitis, he says he has lost weight down to about 245 pounds, closer to what he played at in college in an effort to, as he says, be able to “run all day.” There are a lot more elements of the Cover 2 defense of past years and Laurinaitis will have to do more deep coverage work. The lost weight is in anticipation of that. Like Mughelli, I’ll have more on Laurinaitis in the next couple of days. He says he’s not worried about his contract and made it a point that today is “Chris’ day.”

- As for the structure of practice, it was what we’ve come to expect froma  Fisher practice. A lot of moving around, a lot of exchanging reps and substituting but most of that work went to the first and second units. In an effort to ensure everyone is getting some reps, Fisher had an extra 20 minute session with the rookies at the end of practice.

- One special guest in the house today: Mizzou WR T.J. Moe. As a complete Mizzou homer, it was good to see Moe in the house. He was a big hit with the media at the SEC Media Days a couple weeks ago for his colorful quotes but make no mistake, the kid can play. An excellent slot receiver in that offense.

- That’ll do it for today. Thanks as always for reading and be sure to check the front of the site for a pair of story updates later this evening.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 3 Comments »

DE Chris Long Agrees to Contract Extension

Posted by nickwagoner on July 29, 2012 – 8:08 PM

- Rams COO Kevin Demoff spent about 30 minutes in a dunk tank Sunday afternoon but before he went out and willingly dropped in the water, he completed one very important order of business: he struck an agreement with his father, agent Marvin Demoff on a four-year contract extension with DE Chris Long.

- Long is considered one of the team’s long term building blocks after a breakthrough 2011 season in which he posted a career high 13 sacks, which ranked seventh in the NFL. Terms of the deal were not immediately available but it’s expected that Long will sign the deal this afternoon.

- It is expected that this extension will kick in next season, essentially leaving Long with five more years under contract with the team including the 2012 season.

- In retaining Long, the Rams keep one of their cornerstone players and one of the league’s most effective pass rushers. In each of his four seasons in the league, Long has improved his sack total including last season’s outburst. All told, Long led the Rams in sacks, quarterback pressures (15) and quarterback hits (16) in 2011.

- The Rams had maintained they’d hoped to get something done with Long before camp opened and certainly before he could become a free agent at the end of the season. They took care of that on Sunday.

- In a chat here on stlouisrams.com on Friday, GM Les Snead made it clear that  negotiations with Long and MLB James Laurinaitis were “on pace.” Apparently, they were closer to being done than anyone could’ve known.

- Laurinaitis is next up and it’s believed the Rams have made significant progress with their other key building block on defense as well. Stay tuned for more on that.

- I’ll have more on Long and his new deal later this evening following the team’s practice.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 3 Comments »

Rams Sign FB Ovie Mughelli

Posted by nickwagoner on July 28, 2012 – 8:52 PM

- In their continuing efforts to add as much talent and competition to the roster as possible, the Rams signed FB Ovie Mughelli to a one-year contract on Saturday afternoon.

- Mughelli comes to the Rams from Atlanta where he spent the past five seasons. He finished last year on injured reserve after suffering an MCL tear in his knee in October.

- Before that, Mughelli had earned a reputation as one of the league’s best fullbacks. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2010 and earned All Pro honors in 2006 and 2010.

- Originally a fourth round pick by Baltimore in the 2003 NFL Draft out of Wake Forest, Mughelli quickly became one of the best lead blockers in the game and was rewarded following his first four seasons with what was at the time the most valuable contract for a fullback in league history, a six-year deal that had him leave Baltimore for Atlanta.

- In his nine seasons, the 32-year old Mughelli has rushed for 120 yards but been a valuable receiver with 62 catches for 490 yards and seven touchdowns.

- The Falcons released Mughelli in May of this year. He visited the Rams in the spring but the two sides waited until Saturday to consummate the deal.

- Mughelli will immediately be thrown into a competition for the fullback job with incumbent Brit Miller and undrafted rookie Todd Anderson as well as converted tight end Ben Guidugli.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 3 Comments »

Rams Wrap Up Rookie Portion of Camp

Posted by nickwagoner on July 27, 2012 – 9:26 PM

- The Rams rookies (plus TE Michael Hoomanawanui) completed their third and final practice of the week before the real thing kicks off on Sunday. The past three days have allowed those rookies to get their legs under them and ratchet things up before camp begins at full speed. There’s no slowing down now.

- Coach Jeff Fisher was pleased with how his youngsters performed through the trio of practices.

“Really pleased with it. As you can see we got to put some shoulder pads on and that was by design,” Fisher said. “We wanted to introduce the pads to them before next week when everybody puts them on. So, we were pleased. The third day, you’re always concerned about the third day because that’s the pull history, and we got through it without any problems. So now they can rest and recover and they won’t be doing anything tomorrow, maybe some light lifting. They’ll join the team tomorrow, but there won’t be any activity on the field.”

- G Rokevious Watkins was again the only player not to participate. His conditioning level isn’t yet where it needs to be. He took part in some stretching and did conditioning during the practice. With an opening at left guard, the sooner he can get in shape, the better for him.

- In some sense, the rookies will be pleased to have the veterans return. The past three days have left many of the rookies panting in the heat because of the amount of reps they’ve had to take. Wide receivers Brian Quick, Nick Johnson and Chris Givens seemed especially fatigued from all the running they had to do. Still, Fisher was pleased with how that group performed.

“Well they’re tired because there’s just three of them out here, but they’re coming on,” Fisher said. “Chris (Givens) and Brian (Quick), both of them have a real good feel for what we’re doing. I expect to see a lot more out of them once the numbers increase and they’re fresh and things, but both of them are making plays and that’s important.”

- Perhaps the most positive aspect of the three practices is that the Rams came out of it healthy. They’ll have their full complement available to them at their first practice on Sunday, which is certainly a good thing for the Rams.

- Now, the rookies will take a little break tonight and then report tomorrow for a meeting. The Rams veterans can begin checking into the team hotel this evening and are required to do it by tomorrow. After the meeting in the morning, the team will have conditioning tests then retire to the meeting rooms for the rest of the day. They cannot, by league rule, do any on field activities until Sunday.

- By the way, league rules say that teams can’t go into full pads until they’ve had three practices. Ergo, the Rams will be in full pads for the first time next Wednesday.

- Many of the vets are already in town and participated in Fisher’s softball game last night. There’s an air of excitement amongst everyone for the start of camp, according to Fisher.

“I’m very excited,” Fisher said. “Everybody’s excited. Vets are inside watching practice through the window and coming in early and lifting and doing that kind of stuff. So everybody’s excited to get going and I think it’s smart the way we handle things now with acclamation. We can’t put pads on until the fourth day. It’s a mandatory three days to acclimate and that’s throughout camp, so they’re ready to go. They’re ready to go out and play. The next step is pads and then the step after that is go play somebody else.”

- That’ll do it for today. There’s nothing open tomorrow but I’ll likely have a story for the front page and then we’ll dive in at full strength on Sunday. As always, thanks for reading.

 


Posted in From the Sidelines | 3 Comments »

Rookies Get Re-Acclimated

Posted by nickwagoner on July 26, 2012 – 10:19 PM

- The Rams rookies reported for duty on Tuesday night and returned to the practice field on Wednesday. On Thursday, they went through their second workout of the week as they head toward the start of the full squad portion of training camp set to begin on Sunday.

- Coach Jeff Fisher said after the practice that he’s been pleased with the knowledge his rookies retained and there were no bumps or hiccups in terms of information. All 32 players scheduled to appear have appeared and there’s been just one player slowed in the first two days.

- That player is G Rokevious Watkins, who struggled with some conditioning tests upon arrival in St. Louis and was held out of Thursday’s practice because of it. There’s a big opportunity for him with the opening on the left side but it will be up to him to get up to speed and get into shape quickly should he want to be a serious contender for that job.

- Rookie CB Trumaine Johnson appeared in his first practice Thursday after he overslept and missed his flight on Wednesday. The missed connection kept Johnson from arriving in St. Louis until 6 p.m. Wednesday. He signed his contract upon arrival and was back in business on Thursday.

- Johnson was asked about the persistent speculation that he’ll be moving to safety but said he’s been told nothing about such a move. He’s worked exclusively at corner and inside in the nickel. That’s true to what Fisher said from the get go and figures to hold true moving forward.

- Fellow CB Janoris Jenkins spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon and said he was never concerned with his contract status. Sure enough, his deal was done on time and he missed absolutely nothing in terms of team activities. His focus, he said, is and always has been on football. He’s excited for his opportunity and said though he is ready to compete, he’s not allowing himself to worry about winning a starting job. Instead, he said he’ll do whatever possible to just help the team win games.

- The only non-rookie to show up for this part of “pre” camp is TE Mike Hoomanawanui. The Hoo Man has returned with a vengeance after he was officially cleared to play full speed on Tuesday. League rules allow players recovering from injury to participate in these early workouts and Hoomanawanui said this was the plan all along.

- I’ll have more on Hoomanawanui tomorrow but it needs to be noted here that he is taking this very serious. He has come back in excellent shape, trimmed down to 262 pounds and says he went from about 14 percent body fat to about 10 percent. He’s not allowing himself to worry about what the future holds and is focusing on doing whatever possible to perform at a high level with the belief that the rest will take care of itself.

- Most of the rookie workouts have focused on individual drills with a little 7 on 7 mixed in. Because of the low numbers, there’s simply no way to have full on scrimmages so the group has done mostly drill work. Fisher said he had to dial back the reps for his team but wanted the rookies to take advantage as much as possible because when the veterans arrive, those reps won’t be as plentiful.

- That’ll do it for me tonight. Off to the Jeff Fisher Celebrity Softball game. I’ll have stories on Hoomanawanui and the two rookie corners tomorrow. As always, thanks for reading.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 2 Comments »

Jenkins, Johnson Agree to Contracts

Posted by nickwagoner on July 25, 2012 – 1:42 PM

- The Rams rookies are scheduled to step on the field for their first training camp practice today and when they do, they’ll have their entire complement of players available after their only two unsigned rookies – CB Janoris Jenkins and CB Trumaine Johnson – agreed to terms on their rookies contracts late Tuesday night.

- Jenkins and Johnson are expected to put pen to paper this morning and step on the field with their teammates this afternoon.

- Jenkins, of course, was the team’s second, second-round pick in April’s NFL Draft out of North Alabama. He’s expected to compete for a starting job right away opposite Cortland Finnegan on the outside.

- Johnson was the second pick of the third round out of Montana, where he played with assistant secondary coach Brandon Fisher, the son of Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. Johnson is expected to be right in the mix early as well, potentially competing for a role in the team’s nickel packages.

- The Rams now have all 10 of their drafted rookies signed before camp begins. The veterans report to St. Louis on Saturday with the first full squad practice scheduled for Sunday at 3:30 in the afternoon.

- Check back later for more details as these contracts become official.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

Rookies Report for Duty, Roster Moves

Posted by nickwagoner on July 24, 2012 – 3:39 PM

- The Rams will officially open their 2012 training camp on Sunday afternoon with the full squad but the pieces are beginning to fall into place as their rookie class reports for camp today.

- That group will have some meetings and things today but will kick into action on Wednesday with their first practice. The rookies are set to practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the veterans report on Saturday.

- A couple of quick roster updates to know before camp begins: Offensive lineman Michael Hay was released on Tuesday morning. Hay was with the team throughout OTAs and the minicamps. I wrote a piece on Hay and all he’s been through early in camp. Here’s wishing him the best of luck in the future.

- Also, CB Jeremy Caldwell has decided to walk away from the game. Occasionally a player sees the writing on the wall and opts to pursue other opportunities. Caldwell is moving on with his life. Best of luck to him as well.

- As for the rookies that WILL be coming to St. Louis today, there are still two players that remain unsigned from the rookie class. Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson have yet to come to terms on deals. The reasons are different in eachcase but the Rams still expect to have both players in camp sooner than later.

- In fact, it’s likely Johnson and the Rams will get something done in the next 24 hours and he’ll be on the practice field tomorrow.

- There is hope that the same will be true for Jenkins as well. Either way, the Rams remain confident their entire rookie class will be signed and ready to roll by the time the real thing starts on Sunday. At the latest.

- As for what these next three practices will look like for the rookies, they don’t figure to be anything too substantial. The Rams haven’t done anything like this before really but the idea is to get the rookies here and get them a quick refresher course on what they learned in the spring so when the veterans arrive they are as prepared mentally as can be. Each practice is expected to last about an hour.

- It’s also probably not a bad idea to get the rookies used to the oppressive summer heat here in St. Louis. With temperatures consistently soaring in the 100 degree range, the rookies will have a difficult enough time adjusting to the heat and the physical nature of a NFL practice.

- One thing to keep in mind, though: Coach Jeff Fisher wants his teams to be tough and physical but he’s not one of those coaches who will have his team in pads full time and going live on a regular basis. He’ll make sure they’re tough and sharp but he’s not going to run them into the ground.

- A quick retrospective along those lines, if you don’t mind: In 2008, the Rams trained in Nashville with the Titans for a week. The one thing that stood out immediately was how well conditioned the Titans were and the energy they constantly played with in those practices. They were physical, crisp and boisterous. A big part of that was Fisher kept his players fresh. He didn’t do too many two a day practices (of course the CBA limits that now anyway but Fisher wasn’t really using them before) and he doesn’t keep his team in full pads all the time. When they do go to full pads, it’s fair to expect some intensity but just know that every day of practice doesn’t figure to be some sort of hard hitting, over the top battle.

- Anyway, welcome back to the blog. We’ll have updates here every day moving forward with everything from daily news bits to roster updates to weather and camp updates. Thanks for reading.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 2 Comments »