– The Rams were back on the practice field Thursday afternoon as they went through their fifth of 10 scheduled Organized Team Activities. They will have another on Friday and then four more next week to bring the offseason program to a close.
– A couple of notables sitting out Thursday’s practice were TE Lance Kendricks (who is still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his knee) as well as S Darian Stewart, who is dealing with a calf issue. OL Barrett Jones is also still working his way back from a foot injury as is S Matt Daniels, who is coming back from knee surgery.
– Plenty more to come on Stewart today but had a chance to catch up with him after practice. Coach Jeff Fisher said Stewart is “penciled in” as a starter at one of the safety spots. It’s no surprise given Stewart’s experience relative to the younger players at his position. Stewart says he is embracing the role as a sort of “elder statesman” amongst the safeties and he’s looking forward to making an impact in 2013 after his 2012 season never really took off.
– One more thing to note for those curious about the delineation of safeties: Stewart says the two safety spots are interchangeable in this defense and there’s no true strong and free safety, per se. Stewart said he’s worked at both spots and his fellow safeties are doing the same. That’s not strange for Stewart, who said he has been working in similar roles since his college days at South Carolina.
– Speaking of interchangeable positions, Fisher discussed the roles of OLBs Alec Ogletree and Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Much has been made of who will play where but like safety, Fisher said there isn’t a big difference, only a left and a right. For what it’s worth, Ogletree is starting out on the left side with Dunbar on the right.
– Also had a chance to chat with WR Chris Givens, a player who might not be getting the deserved recognition right now given the Rams’ new acquisitions for the pass game. But it’s wise not to forget Givens, who had a few impressive grabs Thursday, including yet another connection with QB Sam Bradford on the deep ball.
– I’ll have a lot more on Givens in a story for Friday but a few quick tidbits worth noting:
Givens credits fellow WR Austin Pettis with helping he and fellow WR Brian Quick understand how to spend their copious offseason downtime. Pettis hosted the pair in California over the summer and the trio worked out together all the time, including some workouts with former NFL WR Terrell Owens. Say what you will about Owens but his work ethic was never a question.
In the offseason, Givens made it a point to add a little weight to his frame and he’s noticeably stronger. He said it was important for him to add some bulk so he could better handle the rigors of the NFL.
Another reason Givens added some weight/muscle was to help him diversify his game. After working exclusively catching the deep ball and then doing some stuff in the screen game, Givens said it was imperative to diversify his game a bit by adding intermediate routes and working on that. Added bulk can help him take on some of the hits he’ll see if and when he goes over the middle more.
– Asked Bradford about Givens’ work in the offseason and Bradford made it a point to mention how Givens is showing a lot of versatility and that versatility is going hand in hand with expanded route concepts that Givens is taking on. Instead of playing exclusively on the outside, Givens is moving into the slot some, working on the opposite side a bit, etc. That’s allowing him to run more of those aforementioned routes. It’s something Bradford believes will be very beneficial for Givens and for the offense in 2013.
– On the one-game suspension of RB Isaiah Pead, Fisher said the issue actually took place last summer and had already been dealt with while they expected something from the league. He went on to say “He obviously has to suffer the consequences and miss the game but I’m pleased with how he’s bounced back and his professional approach to being a member of this team.”
– It’s been pretty obvious to anyone watching but when asked about the presence and early performance of TE Jared Cook, he couldn’t help but again state the obvious…
“He’s good. I don’t know if you guys noticed that,” Bradford said laughing. Yeah, for anyone watching, it’s been hard NOT to notice.
– That’ll do it for today. Plenty more to come tomorrow. Thanks for reading.
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