Fisher to join Rams on field

BY JIM THOMAS
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It will not be under ideal conditions, but Jeff Fisher finally gets to conduct his first practices as Rams head coach today and Wednesday with a "voluntary" veteran minicamp at Rams Park.

The team's offseason conditioning program began April 2, but those first two weeks by league rule were limited to conditioning work, weight training and meetings.

"Tomorrow is our first opportunity to join the players on the field," Fisher said Monday night. "Coaches have been prohibited from observing and participating up until this week. So we've got two days to introduce our offense and defense, some aspects of special teams, and get the players moving around a little bit.

"We'll get them on the same page as far as things as simple as the huddle, and things as specific as some play-action passes and protections."

That's right, even on the professional level Fisher wants to make sure such basics as lining up and breaking the huddle are done properly by his new team.

"We'll start off with all those things that I think a lot of people take for granted, and then we'll continue to just add things to it," Fisher said. "Our hope, our intention, is to have everything installed (playbook-wise) by the end of the offseason program at least once. And then you come back and you install again in training camp."

Fisher has been pleased with the attendance and the energy level of the players during the first two weeks of the offseason program. The Rams have about 60 players either under contract or tendered as restricted and exclusive rights free agents. Fisher expects just about all of those players to be on hand for this minicamp with maybe a couple of exceptions.

With the revised and shortened offseason training schedule under the new collective bargaining agreement, Fisher said a player or two may have a scheduling conflict.

"But I'm not anticipating somebody just not showing up," he said.

In terms of the minicamp schedule, the Rams are permitted to do more than they're doing this week.

"New coaches are allowed to have a three-day camp in Week 3 of the offseason program, and that can include going on the field twice (a day), and having lengthy, extensive meetings, including dinner," Fisher said. "But because of our draft preparation requirements, we have had to cut everything back."

The Rams are right in the middle of their position-by-position draft meetings. With the draft just 10 days away, they can't put those meetings on hold. So they're practicing only two days this minicamp, and practicing just once each day.

Basically, Fisher and his staff are spending half the day with the players and then spending the rest of the day and much of the evening in draft meetings.

"From my perspective it's not ideal timing," Fisher said. "This voluntary veteran minicamp doesn't fall at the most ideal time of the offseason. But this is the only week we can have it, so we're going to try to take advantage of as much time as we can."

The minicamp sessions are closed to the public, but what takes place today and Wednesday won't look like a typical Jeff Fisher training camp practice (open to the fans) anyway.

"No, no, no," Fisher said. "The players, I don't believe they're conditioned at this point to where we can go out and just go full speed, so this is going to be a scaled-down, modified practice where I want to be careful that we don't subject anybody to any pulls.

"It's going to be very organized. They're going to stretch for the first time, and go on the field and do individual drills with their position coaches for the first time after walk-throughs. We may throw it around a little bit towards the end of practice."

But it will be helmets, shorts and shirts only. No pads, and no contact. Fisher said the Rams won't even do 11-on-11 or team drills at this minicamp.

"It's too early in the offseason," he said. "Too early in the installation period. Now once we get three, four weeks into it ... we'll be able to do that."