– The 36 rookies and first-year players who attended the unofficial start of training camp are about to get some company. Early Wednesday evening, the youngsters will be joined by their veteran teammates on the team’s official reporting day.
– Wednesday night, the whole team will go through some introductory meetings, taking care of all the logistics and details to ensure things run smoothly when practice begins. Thursday afternoon at 3:30, the real deal kicks off with the first official practice of training camp. That practice will be open to the public. The full open to fans practice schedule is below.
– This will be the fifth consecutive year the Rams have trained here at Rams Park and the second time in as many years under coach Jeff Fisher. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon so long as Fisher is in charge.
– Dating to his time in Tennessee, Fisher became an early believer in training on site as a matter of circumstance. As his teams continued to do that, he embraced it further and now it is his preferred method for camp.
– Factoring in the training camp rules in place that have essentially eliminated two-a-days and Fisher’s preference to maximize his players’ rest time, the home set up works. Fisher is even making for some extra allowances for the team’s established veterans.
“We were one of the first teams to do it because we had no other option and then falling into the situation it worked for us,” Fisher said. “I think it works. We are going to permit this year, those with four years experienced to stay home. That’s a big deal unless you were a wife hoping to get rid of your husband. It just works out. It’s business like.”
– For fans wanting to attend this year’s camp, here again is the list of training camp open practices as well as additional information that you may need. The FanFest scrimmage at the Edward Jones Dome again highlights the list.
The first public practice will be held at 3:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, July 25. The open scrimmage at the Edward Jones Dome begins at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 3. Autograph sessions with select players will follow each practice and the open scrimmage.
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– The Rams just got off the practice field, finishing their second practice in as many days and bringing to an end the two-day pre-training camp portion of the week. The 36 rookies and first-year players went through a pair of two-hour workouts after finishing their conditioning tests on Monday.
– The rookies will now await the arrival of the veterans, scheduled for Wednesday evening before the first full-squad training camp practice on Thursday at 3:30. That practice is open to the fans and will officially begin training camp.
– OL Barrett Jones did some running on the side again Tuesday. He continues to target a return within the next week or two.
– RB Benny Cunningham looked good and fresh again on Tuesday. For more on him, check the homepage a bit later this evening.
– Rams coach Jeff Fisher offered his take on the addition of LB Will Witherspoon on Monday.
“We were just looking for experience there,” Fisher said. “We lost a couple guys from last year and Spoon is familiarized with the organization, I am familiar with him, he’s familiar with the system. He had a couple other opportunities and he chose to come join us so it’s good to have him.”
– Witherspoon was in the building on Monday and Tuesday, making the rounds and saying hello to the employees still here from his first stint with the team.
– The Rams have a few notable names working in their coaching internship program this summer, including some of Fisher’s former Titans DBs in Lance Schulters and Samari Rolle. Myles Austin is also part of the program.
– Rams great Isaac Bruce is expected to be around for part of training camp, tentatively scheduled for arrival Aug. 1-6.
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– In their search for depth and experience at linebacker, the Rams turned to a familiar face Monday morning, signing Will Witherspoon to a one-year contract.
– Witherspoon, of course, will be embarking on his second tour in St. Louis after he spent the prime of his career, from 2006 to 2009 with the Rams.
– When the Rams signed Witherspoon in 2006, he was widely regarded as an emerging player after a successful four-year stint in Carolina. Asked to switch to middle linebacker after playing on the outside for the Panthers, Witherspoon adapted well to his new role and immediately became one of the team’s primary defensive leaders.
– Witherspoon led the Rams in tackles with 136 in 2006 and followed with 132 in 2007. He earned the team’s Most Valuable Player award for his efforts in 2007, when he added seven sacks to the tackle tally.
– Witherspoon shifted back to the outside after the team drafted James Laurinaitis to man the middle. He was traded to Philadelphia in a deal for WR Brandon Gibson near the trade deadline in 2009. He finished the year with the Eagles before signing with Tennessee as a free agent in 2010.
– For the following three seasons, Witherspoon played for the Titans where he worked (at various times) with now Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, assistant head coach Dave McGinnis and linebackers coach Frank Bush.
– Clearly, having spent time in Fisher’s defense makes Witherspoon an ideal fit to bring depth and experience to the mix.
– In an 11-year career, Witherspoon has played 173 games with 150 starts, posting 938 tackles, 26 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries and 13 interceptions along the way.
– Back in St. Louis, Witherspoon will be expected to provide depth and fill a leadership role in a linebacker group that save for Laurinaitis, Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Josh Hull doesn’t bring much in the way of experience to the table.
– Witherspoon has actually maintained his home in St. Louis since departing. He owns and runs Shire Gate farm, which provides hormone and anti-biotic free grassfed beef to consumers.
– Witherspoon tweeted his excitement to return to the Rams from his Twitter account (@willwitherspoon) on July 18, saying: “So the rumors are true I’m going Back to STL!! Is anyone as excited as I am? NOPE!!”
– We’ll have more from Witherspoon later in the week.
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Ever wanted to see the world or, more specifically, the football field, through the eyes of a quarterback? How about a wide receiver?
Well, a recent visit from Katie Linendoll, the tech contributor on ESPN, will give you a chance to do just that through the vision of the latest technology from Google.
The innovative technology company has been testing it’s latest invention known as Google Glass to a select group of people. Google Glass is essentially a wearable computer that can be worn like a pair of glasses but provides the capability to do so much more.
In their on-going efforts to be on the cutting edge of technology, the Rams invited Linendoll to St. Louis to give Rams receiver Tavon Austin and quarterback Sam Bradford the chance to try out Google Glass while working on some routes after a recent practice.
The Rams are the first team to work with Google Glass, an experience that took some getting used to for Austin but ultimately left him impressed.
“Pretty much it just tracks everything you see out there,” Austin said. “It was pretty cool. It would be hard to put in a helmet with how much banging and running around you are doing but as far as the quarterback position, I think it would be helpful.”
VIEW THE VIDEO HERE: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9480059
The Google Glass computer attached to a pair of glasses and then opens up a whole world of possibilities for Austin and Bradford. Through simple voice commands, the computer allows the user to take pictures of exactly what they are seeing through the lenses as well as normal computer-related tasks such as checking e-mail and calling up applications.
“You can go on YouTube, you can bring up your email, there is so much stuff you can do on there,” Austin said.
While the product is technically still in development, it’s seemingly endless possibilities could prove useful down the road for NFL teams looking to find new ways to study what they do and record what they see.
As it continues to evolve, it’s possible players could find ways to incorporate it to do more. Of course, Austin did his best to do what he does to give fans a look at how he moves but admitted that he didn’t want to mess around too much with such a fancy and new piece of equipment.
“It was kind of weird (wearing it),” Austin said, laughing. “I didn’t want to make too many moves and fall on my face and break it or something so I had to slow it down a little bit.”
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– Jake McQuaide has been a Ram for just two seasons. In those two seasons, it’s very unlikely you’ve heard his name too often.
– Aside from when he first claimed the job in a training camp battle with long time Ram Chris Massey and perhaps more recently when he joined K Greg Zuerlein and P Johnny Hekker in the Dude Perfect trick kick (and snap) video, McQuaide’s name hasn’t exactly been a household one.
– Considering that McQuaide is the Rams’ long snapper, that’s a good thing, a very good thing. By the very nature of his position, it should stand to reason that if his name is coming up on a regular basis, then the results haven’t been what you want. For long snappers, any mistake is magnified but there’s little glory for doing a good job.
– What little glory there is, though, McQuaide reaped the benefits of last week when the Rams signed him to a four-year contract extension that will keep him in St. Louis for twice as long as his current tenure.
– The Rams originally signed McQuaide as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State back in 2011. He was a walk-on for the Buckeyes but ended up handling the job for three seasons in Columbus, earning a number of academic honors along the way.
– Upon arrival in St. Louis, McQuaide quickly proved to be accurate and quick with his snaps and provided toughness and willingness to get up the field to pursue returners on punts.
– Since, McQuaide has been nothing but solid; posting 150 consecutive clean snaps as a rookie in 2011 and 139 more in his second season in 2012 for a total of 289 consecutive clean snaps.
– Entering his third year, McQuaide figures to continue to take on a bit more of a leadership role for the Rams’ special teams as he represents the most tenured of the team’s young specialists.
– With McQuaide in the fold for the forseeable future, the Rams have one less roster spot to worry about. And no matter the position, that’s always a good thing.
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– The Rams’ rookie class is spending this week getting to know St. Louis, attending various events around town, going out to eat at St. Louis landmarks and more. But when this week is over, the group still has more learning to do.
– Along with the rest of the rookies around the league, the Rams’ group will attend the NFL Rookie Symposium in Aurora, Ohio.
– Here’s the official release on the event.
NFL ROOKIE SYMPOSIUM KICKS OFF SUNDAY,
SESSIONS TO STRESS HISTORY, TOTAL WELLNESS, EXPERIENCE, & PROFESSIONALISM
AFC rookies to attend June 23-26, NFC rookies June 26-29
The NFL kicks off its 16th Rookie Symposium on Sunday (June 23), emphasizing the sport’s legacy, tradition of character and leadership, as well as social and professional responsibility. The four-day orientation held at the Bertram Hotel in Aurora, Ohio will introduce the 2013 NFL Draft class to life in the NFL prior to the rookies reporting to training camps next month.
“We believe in our peer-to-peer model that the more information these young men have on how those before them handled success, the better prepared they will be to meet expectations on and off the field,” said NFL Senior Vice President of Player Engagement TROY VINCENT, who was a five-time Pro Bowl selection in his 15-year NFL career. “Through our speakers there is a story to be told, a lesson to be learned, a teachable moment, a message of success in conveying our number one objective which is to provide our rookies the tools to succeed during their NFL playing experience and beyond.”
The four core teaching principles of the Rookie Symposium are NFL History, Total Wellness, Experience, and Professionalism. The symposium includes presentations, videos, and workshops on player health and safety, decision making, mental health, substance abuse, non-discrimination and maintaining positive relationships.
Guest speakers at the Rookie Symposium (June 23-26 for AFC rookies, June 26-29 for NFC rookies) include current and former players who have experienced a wide-range of success and challenges in their football careers and personal lives.
Participants include LA VAR ARRINGTON (former player), VERNON DAVIS (San Francisco), BRIAN DAWKINS (former player), LUTHER ELLISS (former player), ANTONIO FREEMAN (former player), MIKE HAYNES (former player), DESMOND HOWARD (former player), TERRY “TANK” JOHNSON (former player), ADAM JONES (Cincinnati), DHANI JONES (former player), PATRICK KERNEY (former player), CHAD PENNINGTON (former player), DELANIE WALKER (Tennessee) and AENEAS WILLIAMS (former player).
Pro Football Hall of Famers JIM BROWN and RICHARD DENT will conduct a history session for the rookies at the nearby Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
Additional speakers include representatives from the NFL office and clubs, the NFL Players Association, professionals in specialized fields, and current and former NFL players.
Panel discussion topics include “Transitioning to NFL,” “Self Regulation,” “Are You Bigger than the Game,” “Staying in the Game,” Expectations of an NFL Player,” and “What Defines Success.”
Each player will also participate in a PLAY 60 youth football clinic with children from the Cleveland area at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative complex (AFC rookies Tuesday at 9:30 AM; NFC rookies Friday at 9:30 AM).
To learn more, visit www.nflplayerengagement.com
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– The official start of training camp is a little more than a month away. But the Rams announced the practice dates and times on Friday afternoon.
– Below is the official release from the team:
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- Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12.” (Official NFL team logo clear plastic tote bags are available through club merchandise outlets or at nflshop.com), or
- One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar).
- Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap, may be carried into the stadium along with one of the clear bag options.
- An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection at a gate designated for this purpose.
Was this step taken because of what happened at the Boston Marathon?
Are other events limiting bags?
How does the new policy improve public safety?
How does this make it more convenient for fans?
Will teams be making money from selling team identified bags to fans?
How many bags can each person bring into the stadium?
Can fans carry cameras, binoculars, smart phones or tables separately from what they put in a clear bag?
Are seat cushions allowed to be carried into the stadium?
What about bringing blankets in cold weather?
Why haven’t more stadiums and arenas adopted this kind of policy?
What happens if I show up at the gate with a bag that is not permitted?
If I have certain items that I need to bring into the stadium for medical reasons and they won’t fit in the clear bag, what do I do?
What are some examples of how NFL stadium safety has evolved in recent years?
In September 2001, the league office established a Task Force of league, club, and stadium executives to make recommendations on NFL security matters relative to fans, teams and stadiums.
November 2001, the NFL issued its Best Practices for Stadium Security. The central components specific to security checkpoint procedures were: 1) Continue current search criteria, including the prohibition of coolers, backpacks, large bags, explosives and weapons; and 2) Ensure adequate staff is available at gates to efficiently handle the inspections. Search all items allowed into the stadium and pat down coats and visually inspect outer clothing.
In June 2005, the following was added to the Best Practices for Stadium Security in reference to physical searches at security checkpoints: “Facility management should be prepared to implement additional screening measures should Department of Homeland Security elevate the alert level.”
In November 2007, The following was added to the Best Practices for Stadium Security in reference to the search of bags permitted inside the stadium: “Use a template at each public access gate to show allowable package size.” Also, the search of persons was enhanced to include a physical pat down of guests under the following recommendation: “NFL Policy requires visual inspection and limited pat-downs of all patrons, employees, vendors and game production personnel after lockdown of the facility has occurred on game days.”
In September 2011, the NFL recommended to the clubs that the limited pat-down searches conducted at all NFL stadiums be expanded to include: “a pat-down of the area from the knees down to the ankles in an effort to identify any concealed weapons.”
In June 2012, the following was added to the Best Practices for Stadium Security in reference to physical searches at stadium security check points: “NFL Policy requires visual inspection and metal detector screening (hand-held or walk-through) of all patrons, employees, vendors, and game production personnel after lockdown of the facility has occurred on game days.”
In June 2013, restrictions on specific bags, containers, and packages permitted inside stadiums were unanimously recommended by the NFL Committee on Stadium Security after discussion with all 32 teams.
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– The Rams finished their ninth Organized Team Activity of the offseason on Thursday and now have just one remaining Friday before calling it an offseason program.
– But the biggest news probably came off the field as the team announced it signed each of its seven rookies.
WR Tavon Austin signs his rookie contract.
– As for the activity on the field, the Rams remain a bit short handed at defensive back with a number of secondary contributors sitting out Thursday. That list includes CBs Cortland Finnegan, Trumaine Johnson and Brandon McGee as well as safeties Darian Stewart and Matt Daniels.
– Speaking of safeties, I had a chance to catch up with McDonald, McLeod and Daniels today and will have more on them later but there were some interesting thoughts from each on how things could shake out at the position. They are all aware of the competition for jobs and they all have designs on trying to have a big enough camp to win those jobs.
– On the field, it was yet another strong day for WR Austin Pettis. Pettis continues to catch everything and showed some wiggle on an option route early in practice.
– Catch of the day goes to WR Chris Givens, who made an acrobatic grab on a deep ball in tight coverage from CB Robert Steeples. After the catch, a short shoving match took place but coach Jeff Fisher didn’t mind and noted after practice that Steeples has made an impression in the OTAs.
“He’s done a good job,” Fisher said. “His background there was he played a lot of nickel and then transferred because he wanted to start. We worked him out very early and liked what we saw. He’s got ability and again, as it is the case with a lot of those guys, his opportunities are going to be heavily dependent on his special teams production in the preseason.”
– The Rams made a roster move Wednesday, parting ways with WR Scott Pillar and signing G Ryan Lee. Pillar signed a deal after coming to the rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Lee is listed at 6’3, 308 pounds and played his college ball at Furman.
– Some of you may have noticed the Twitter spat that broke out yesterday into an exchange between former Ram/current Niner S Craig Dahl and CB Cortland Finnegan. DE Chris Long jumped into the mix as well and said today that it wasn’t a big deal. Fisher offered these comments on the matter:
“You know, I heard a little bit about it,” Fisher said. “First off, any time a player that’s involved in the system changes addresses, there’s always going to be some sort of debriefing. That always happens, so that’s not unusual. I heard the guys were kind of joking back and forth, but that’s how they are.”
– Stay tuned later for a feature story on guards Chris Williams and Shelley Smith, both of whom figure to compete for a vacant left guard job.
– Thanks for reading.
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– 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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