Saturday, August 2, 2008

By Brett Grassmuck
Staff Writer

MEQUON, Wis. - The cool summer breeze blowing off Lake Michigan created the perfect football watching atmosphere at Concordia University’s Century Stadium on Saturday as the Rams banged heads during their first scrimmage of training camp.

There’s no doubt that Wisconsin is a football state, as nearly 2,000 people turned out to watch the Rams scrimmage Saturday morning.

“It was our biggest crowd yet,” quarterback Marc Bulger said. “They love their football up here. There wasn’t a lot of clapping, I don’t think, but they just enjoy watching football. In Pittsburgh, where I grew up, people would come out just to watch either high school or whatever it was. They just enjoyed being around it.”

There was barely a cloud in the sky, and with the nice, cool breeze, the weather was perfect for football. Fans packed the Century Stadium stands to capacity and lined up all the way around the outside of the track for the scrimmage.

“It’s nice,” Rams coach Scott Linehan said. “It’s in a stadium, great setting, great way to spend your Saturday. You can’t beat the weather.”

It was the ninth day of training for the Rams, and even though they are in the heart of Green Bay Packers country, fans have come out every day for practice. But Saturday’s scrimmage was by far the biggest turnout.

“This has been a great experience,” Linehan said. “They’ve been very open to us being here, very cordial and cheered us on. I know we are in Packer country, but we have had a number of Rams fans that have shown up. They came here and planned their summer trips. That is what I was hoping for when we moved up here. Hopefully they go back and tell everybody else. Maybe we will finish this camp off with more Rams fans up here.”

The players certainly notice and appreciate the fan support. Each day after practice, players stop and sign autographs or take pictures with the fans lining the entrance to Century Stadium.

“I am really impressed,” wide receiver Torry Holt said. “I want to say thank you to the people of Mequon for coming out and supporting us. I know this is Green Bay Packers land but fans have been showing up every day and supporting us.”

The Rams have a much deserved day off Sunday. They will return to the field for a two-a-day, and you can bet the fans will be right there with them.

“The city has been great,” Holt said. “The welcome has been tremendous, so we are thankful to have the crowd that we had because it helps us. As things kind of slow down with camp, to see a crowd gives you more juice to come out and perform.”