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First Day of 2004 Campaign In the Books
First Day of 2004 Campaign In the Books
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
By NICK WAGONER
Adjusting to life in the NFL can be difficult for any rookie. There are possible pitfalls at every corner, from managing their newfound riches to setting the alarm correctly.
Such is life for Rams’ tailback Steven Jackson. All of those worries were certainly on his mind the past few days. Jackson signed a five-year contract Sunday and arrived at camp via the rookie bus on Tuesday. All of those other worries went away today, as St. Louis held its first two practices of training camp.
The Rams kicked off their first practice at 8:10 a.m., finishing at about 10:30. The afternoon session started at 4 and ended about 5:30. Head coach Mike Martz said he was pleased with the tempo of the practices, but there isn’t much evaluation that can be done after one day.
“We have a long ways to go,” Martz said. “The effort was terrific, but as we all know, effort isn’t enough. After the first day, there isn’t a whole lot to tell you. Their heads will be swimming here (in) another three days.”
Jackson had no problems waking up in time for the morning practice. He showed up on time and stretched with the rest of the team. The thing that caught his attention, however, was what could be the most difficult adjustment for a rookie to make, the speed of the game.
It can be easy for a young player to grow accustomed to dominating slower and less talented players. Jackson knows all about that, for the former Oregon State star dominated the Pacific 10 Conference. Jackson led the conference with 1,545 rushing yards and 2,015 total yards.
It didn’t take long for Jackson to realize that things won’t be so easy at the game’s highest level.
“It’s definitely faster,” Jackson said. “Right now, it’s fast and it will just take a little time to get used to.”
By most accounts, the first day of camp was like any other. The Rams went through the usual run of drills, ranging from the one-on-one battles between offensive and defensive linemen to 11-on-11 exercises.
Martz said the team starts most camps by getting reacquainted with the basics of the playbooks and techniques. The only real change from past seasons was the setup of the practice schedule. Martz said the idea for the additional time between practices came from some of the veteran players.
“I just want to try it,” Martz said. “If we don’t like it, we will change it back.”
While Jackson was busy adjusting to the speed and pace of the players and practices, a veteran was sinking his teeth into the beginning of one of his favorite times of the year. Safety Aeneas Williams, who is entering his 15th season, said he enjoys the time he spends at training camp.
“If you don’t focus on so much the tedious and monotony of it, it’s enjoyable to me,” Williams said. “I’m like one of the strange creatures out here.”
The real fun for Williams begins in one day. Martz said the team would practice in full pads, as opposed to today’s outfit of shoulder pads and helmets, starting Thursday.
-07-29-2004 #2Registered User
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Re: First Day of 2004 Campaign In the Books
I was there for the first practice and I believe Martz was being cautious in his assessment of the day's output. They started early, put in a full practice, and there was no sign that any of them were having any trouble getting it in gear. Some older veterans showed signs of needing to work out a few kinks, but other than that, all went well.
Steven took a page from Warner's book from 2000, making a point to get something signed in time for camp, not to mention being enough of a class act to take the bus instead of negotiating Illinois' roads in a flashy sportscar. (I did notice a rash of Brink-truck-looking Hummer2s in town the day before, should've known they'd be occupied by Rams.) In fact, I think this is the first year in some time that all draft picks were signed in time for camp. I was very encourage by that. Now if Pace could just have pulled his head out of his hiney long enough to see that these young whippersnappers were putting his hold-out to shame.
As for Aeneas, it's always a treat to see him at camp. He always has a smile and is eager to get going, regardless of the kinks. I'm glad he's still with us.
They used Jeff Wilkins as QB for some defensive training...catching interceptions and such I believe. Never thought I'd ever feel like telling him he needs to work on his arm. LOL (fyi, he was a QB in college so the role wasn't a stretch for him)
If weather holds out, I'll be back out there tomorrow morning.
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