– There was plenty of action on the practice fields at Rams Park on Saturday night and we’ll get to all of that in a minute but the real show stealer of the evening was a picture perfect evening which brought out a record crowd.
– With temperatures hovering in the mid-70s under a blue and sunny sky, fans looking for a chance to see their Rams up close couldn’t have asked for much more. And they responded in kind with a crowd that reached 2,297 people. That’s the highest turnout for an on-site practice in the history of the franchise in St. Louis.
“I’ve been told it’s one of the biggest in years, which is great,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “It’s a great combination because we got a Saturday evening, we’ve got great weather and our baseball team is on the road so it’s a great opportunity.”
– Fisher was asked if the turnout is any indication of the building buzz around the team.
“Yeah, that’s what we’ve been hearing which is great,” Fisher said. “They were here early and we encouraged them to come back. They got to see some big plays today, a couple plays down the field, which is good.”
– More on those big plays in a moment but a bit more on the weather. Following a 2012 camp which was brutally hot from day one, this year’s camp has offered a respite in the early going. If forecasts for next week are accurate, the Rams will have temperatures in the upper 70s with nothing higher than 84 through Thursday of next week.
– While that weather is a plus for the players now, it’s not the best in terms of conditioning. Of course, as Fisher points out, it’s highly unlikely the unseasonable cool temperatures will continue.
“Really it’s ideal from an acclimation standpoint and them getting used to everything,” Fisher said. “But we’ll have some (hot) weather ahead of us. That’s good. It contributes to the conditioning level. It’s always good to put them in a position to where they have got to focus and concentrate in the second part of practice when the temperature is up. I’m sure it’s around the corner.”
– On the injury front, the Rams had the same group of players sitting again today except for TE Philip Lutzenkirchen who returned to action and made a couple of nice catches during team drills. OL Barrett Jones, TE Lance Kendricks, S Matt Daniels, DT Jermelle Cudjo, DE Sammy Brown and T Braden Brown did not participate Saturday night.
– On the field, it was another strong outing for the defense which appears to have taken the first day production of the offense as a challenge and responded. After a one on one session plagued by defensive holding and pass interference, the defense got to work in seven on seven and especially in team drills.
– S Rodney McLeod had a pair of interceptions in team drills while working with the second team defense, including one on a tipped pass by DB Quinton Pointer, who continues to show up in the early proceedings.
– Rookie CB Brandon McGee, who has impressed early with his physical approach and jamming technique work stepped in front of a pass intended for Stedman Bailey for an interception as well.
– The defensive line continues to get regular pressure on all unit but especially the first group. That’s a quartet that figures to be difficult to block in 2013, perhaps even more difficult than it was last year when it helped the Rams lead the league in sacks.
– CB Janoris Jenkins and WR Chris Givens are close friends but they have not hesitated to get after each other when matched up. That pairing is one of the most fun to watch in the opening days of camp with each side coming up about even in individual victories.
– The offense didn’t go without its share of successes, either. After two strong days that earned him praise from Fisher, rookie S T.J. McDonald got brought back a little by the walking mismatch that is TE Jared Cook during the one-on-one drills. Cook makes it look so easy and has clearly emerged as a favorite of QB Sam Bradford.
– Bradford connected on a couple of deep balls, including a perfect strike down the right sideline to Austin Pettis during 2-minute drills. The play would have gone for about a 55-yard touchdown catch as Pettis got behind Trumaine Johnson. WR Brian Quick also got loose for a long ball that would have been a score.
– You can easily tell who has the local support during practice as rookie WR Andrew Helmick (Lindenwood) had his own cheering section making noise anytime he touched the ball Saturday night. He continues to put together solid practices. WR Nick Johnson should also garner some credit for his early work and he’s doing it mostly against the second-team defense.
– The first team offense had a new face in action at times on Saturday night in the form of FB Eric Stevens, an undrafted free agent out of Cal. The Rams worked on some two-back stuff, which we haven’t seen much of during this camp. Normally, that role would likely be filled by Kendricks but with him nursing an injury, Stevens is getting a few snaps to work with the first group.
– The Rams will have a full on special teams practice tomorrow (the session is CLOSED to the public) but P Johnny Hekker put on a show of his own Saturday night. His leg is fresh right now and it shows as he’s kicking the ever-living stuffing out of the ball right now.
– DT Michael Brockers continues to impress and clog the middle. Fisher said he put on some weight, though it was mostly muscle weight in the offseason and Brockers has been stout early in camp. He had offseason ankle surgery back in the winter and is feeling not residual effects from the operation. Brockers said he feels good and is fired up to attack his second season fully healthy.
– The next time the Rams will have an open practice is Monday at 3:30 p.m. at Rams Park. That will also be the first fully padded, full squad practice of camp.
– Thanks for reading.
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