By Bill Coats
07/28/2007 8:25 pm
First-round draft pick Adam Carriker practiced in full pads for the first time Saturday afternoon. He was impressive, to say the least.
He tossed center Andy McCollum to the ground on one play and later bulldozed guard Richie Incognito to the turf. Plus, he looked comfortable at nose tackle. Carriker played defensive end at Nebraska.
Publicly, the coaches are tempering their enthusiasm. Here’s Scott Linehan’s assessment of Carriker’s showing: “It was a good first day for him. I knew he wouldn’t disappoint us. He looked that way on film when he played in college.”
Privately, though, their excitement over the 6-foot-6, 312-pound youngster is palpable. Said one: “He’s just a beast out there.”
Other notes from Saturday’s single practice:
>>Wideout Dominique Thompson, who spent most of the last two years on the practice squad, got a number of snaps with the first unit while Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt took limited reps. Thompson responded well, making several catches, including a sliding grab in the end zone during red-zone drills.
>>Lenny Walls is working at nickel back. He covers wide while Ron Bartell slides inside over the slot receiver.
>>Three of the nine linebackers were out: Chris Draft (throat), Tim McGarigle (hamstring) and Kevin McLee (left the team).
>>If Jamal Brooks, who played in seven games with the Rams last year, passes a physical Sunday, he’ll take McLee’s spot on the roster.
>>Tight end Randy McMichael made an eye-popping catch in 11-on-11 drills, reaching back over safety Corey Chavous to get the ball.
Some 823 spectators showed up at Rams Park on Saturday, and Linehan was appreciative. “It was another good turnout by the fans,” Linehan said. “That makes all of us excited as a team, because maybe (the fans) think there’s a reason to be excited.”
Carriker was a bit taken aback at the complexities involved in reaching agreement on an NFL contract. “There’s a lot that goes into it, trying to make it fit into the cap, this and that,” he said. “It’s really complex, which is why we have agents do it for us.”
As for his newfound wealth –- he received more than $9 million in guaranteed money as part of his 5-year deal –- Carriker said: “It’s surreal. It hasn’t really set in. I’m just trying to not think about it and to live as much of a normal life as I can.”
It’s fair to presume that no one in the Rams’ organization slept any sounder Friday night than Samir Suleiman, the club’s director of football operations. As Jay Zygmunt’s right-hand man, Suleiman keeps a close eye on the salary cap and also negotiates contracts.
With Zygmunt meeting almost around the clock with Tom Condon, QB Marc Bulger’s agent, Suleiman went one-on-one with Vann McElroy, who represents first-round draftee Adam Carriker.
Carriker’s five-year deal finally came to fruition very early Friday morning. Suleiman remained at Rams Park through the rest of the night, dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, and by the time Carriker put his name on the contract, Suleiman had been up more than 24 hours.
Still, he didn’t dart for the nearest bed. Suleiman was still in the building Friday night, watching the Rams’ second practice of the day.
Suleiman, a former wide receiver at James Madison University, has been with the team since 2000.
OK, this has nothing to do with football. It’s personal.
Rick Hummel, my Post-Dispatch colleague and dear friend for more than three decades, will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. If not for the duties that come with covering the Rams’ training camp, I’d be in Cooperstown to witness the ceremony.
Why? Because besides being a terrific journalist, “Commish” is also a Hall of Fame person, one of the very best people in a business that includes its fair share of scalawags.
And did I mention that he deftly managed the Post-Dispatch softball team to the 1986 city championship?
So, congrats to Rick for an honor so richly deserved.