– The Rams went through another OTA on Tuesday afternoon, the 8th of this year’s slate and are now down to just two remaining before calling it an offseason program.
– Temperatures picked up a bit on Tuesday as the cooler climate that had been so gracious in recent weeks turned into a sunny, somewhat muggy day.
– Tuesday’s practice represented a nice turn for the defense after the offense had some success finding a rhythm last week. That came despite a lack of depth at cornerback as Cortland Finnegan, Trumaine Johnson and Brandon McGee watched from the sidelines. S Darian Stewart did as well, presumably from the calf issues coach Jeff Fisher cited from him last week.
– Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer spoke to the media following Tuesday’s workout and offered some strong insight into a number of issues, including the look of the offense and where it could be headed in 2013. I’ll have more on it later on but here’s a snippet of what he had to say when asked about trying figure out the best way to deploy his new weapons and take advantage of the offense’s newfound speed:
“I think we’re still trying to find what our identity is going to be,” Schottenheimer said. “It’s a work in progress. I think we’re starting to kind of get a feel for it, but nothing’s done yet. That’s the hard part. What personnel groupings? How do they fit? How do you mix pieces around? Who can learn different spots? Who can’t? Then again, working out the competition. It’s a good problem to have, I promise you that. We’re enjoying it. It’s been great.”
– One player Schottenheimer heaped high praise on is WR Austin Pettis. Pettis has been a standout in the practice sessions open to the media, making one highlight grab after another, particularly in the red zone. That was again evident on Tuesday as Pettis made a couple of contested catches in the end zone for touchdowns. I’ll have a full story coming to the home page shortly but it’s worth noting that Schottenheimer said Pettis is “Quite honestly, he’s probably having the best camp of all the skill players.”
– High praise, indeed.
– Defensive coordinator Tim Walton also got a chance to speak the media and offered a look at how he’s adjusting to St. Louis and meshing with a veteran defensive coaching staff. He said that everyone is contributing ideas and the terminology is being mixed a bit with some old and new stuff involved.
– Overall, Walton has been impressed with both the players and coaches he’s working with.
“It’s going good,” Walton said. “First of all, I’ve got a great group of guys that I’m with, a veteran staff, (Linebackers) Coach (Frank) Bush and (Secondary Coach) Chuck Cecil and (Defensive Line) Coach (Mike) Waufle. Those guys are very experienced guys so they made my adjustment pretty easy. You’ve got a lot of leadership on the team with guys like (LB James) Laurinaitis, (DE) Chris Long and (CB) Cortland Finnegan. So they make the adjustment easy for me, the players and coaches. I knew some of the guys before I got here, so it’s been going good.”
– One player Walton expressed excitement about is S T.J. McDonald. He said McDonald has been getting a lot of work with the first team defense and has proved impressive in his opportunities. McDonald certainly had a standout moment Tuesday as he did what has seemingly been impossible during the OTAs when he broke up a touchdown pass intended for TE Jared Cook. Haven’t seen much of that when it comes to Cook.
– The Rams hosted about 125 local high school and small college coaches at Tuesday’s OTA. The group was at Rams Park to watch the practice and then take part in a coaching clinic with the Rams stuff after.
– Funny moment from today’s practice: Dynamo WR Tavon Austin caught a punt, broke to the right and began racing downfield with a return. He encountered P Johnny Hekker around midfield and began to put the wiggle on. Austin raced past and Hekker decided to have a little fun, crumpling to the ground as though Austin had shook him out of his shoes. Hekker had more fun with it after practice, tweeting (from @JHekker) “For those of you that heard @TayAustin01 juked me bad today…it’s true. Had to hit the dirt and fake a cramp to save face. #LightningQuick.”
– In case you can’t tell, that Hekker kid has a heck of a personality. A good laugh was had by all.
– Schottenheimer said the competition for the left guard job should be strong again and said that Chris Williams and Shelley Smith are sharing time there for now. Spoke to Williams and Smith after practice and both are looking forward to trying to win the job. I’ll have more on both later this week but here’s what Schottenheimer had to say:
“Chris (Williams) and Shelley (Smith) are rotating,” Schottenheimer said. “Obviously Rokevious (Watkins) is a guy that we’re going to swing around a little as well. Again, we’ve got two guys that played for us last year. They actually…we went by series if you guys remember the last two games, Tampa Bay and Seattle, and didn’t give up a sack against two pretty good front fours. It’s been fun to watch them compete. They’re both (in their) second year in the system, but both of them actually missed training camp last year because we got them both late. Again, you see they’re leaps and bounds ahead of where they were last year, so that’s making the competition even more fun to watch.”
– That’s going to do it for today. Back with more following Thursday’s OTA. Thanks for reading.
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