By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Tuesday, May. 16 2006

So, Mr. First-Round Draft Choice, how was your initial exposure to pro football?

"Pretty interesting," Tye Hill said, flashing a wide smile. "Coming in, I
thought it just going to be more of a walk-through type of thing. It was more
high tempo, get after it."

In fact, Hill acknowledged that he became so winded Saturday during the opening
practice at minicamp that "I thought my lungs were going to explode."

Hill, a cornerback from Clemson, recovered and turned in what he called a
"pretty good" camp. The three-day minicamp for rookies and first-year players
ended with a single indoor workout Monday at Rams Park.

Coach Scott Linehan said Hill had begun to fulfill the promise the Rams saw
when he was the 15th overall selection in the draft.

"What he showed was, obviously the skill level, but (also) what you don't get
to see until you're around him: the competitive side," Linehan said. "He's got
a great spirit about him. He's a humble kid. He's got confidence, but he knows
he's got a ways to go. He keeps his mouth shut and goes about his business and
improves every day. And that's what we're looking for."

Organized team activities, or OTAs - light practices that include veterans and
newcomers - begin today, and Hill said he was eager to test himself against
established NFL receivers.

"I'm actually looking forward to some of the veterans coming in, like Torry
Holt and Isaac Bruce," Hill said. "Hopefully, I'll get a chance to go up
against them."

Proving he can hold his own against such competition could be Hill's next step
toward a starting position. But he stressed that he isn't looking that far
ahead, especially with vets such as Jerametrius Butler, Travis Fisher, Fakhir
Brown, DeJuan Groce and Ron Bartell in the mix at cornerback.

"If I don't start, I'm not going to be mad," Hill said. "I want to play, but I
can't rush it. Nobody came looking at me like I'm going to take their job or
anything like that. They're veterans; they know what they're doing. I'm looking
for them to give me some tutelage.."

Back to school

Two of the 19 rookies who participated in minicamp headed back to campus Monday
afternoon: linebackers Jon Alston, a third-round draft choice from Stanford,
and Tim McGarigle, a seventh-rounder from Northwestern.

Their schools are on quarter systems, and under NFL rules neither player will
be permitted to rejoin the Rams until his senior class graduates.

"I'm disappointed that I won't be here for OTAs because I know how valuable
those are for experience," Alson said. "But I'm going to get the tapes sent to
me, and I'll have a chance to learn."

McGarigle said he and Alston joked that "If you go to a 'smart' school, you
have to stick around and go to more school."

Learning experience

Wide receiver Clinton Solomon, an undrafted rookie from Iowa, realizes that
wedging himself onto the roster at a position that brims with talent will be
next to impossible. Still, he isn't planning on wasting what time he has with
the team.

"I'm going to pick every person's brain that I can, stay in the playbook and
learn as much as I can," said Solomon, who's 6-feet-3 and 214 pounds. He
figures that the real schooling will begin at the full-squad minicamp June 9-11.

"What a great opportunity I have, to be around Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce,"
Solomon said. "Just to learn from those guys, to work on technique and
mechanics, I couldn't be in a better situation."

Ramblings

After Monday's practice, the Rams released tight end Ed Nelson, a former
basketball player at the University of Connecticut who was trying to make the
transition to the NFL, and defensive end Kory Lothe of Eastern Illinois. Both
were undrafted free agents. ... Wide receiver and punt returner Marques Hagans,
a fifth-round pick, took some snaps Monday at quarterback, a position he manned
his last two years at Virginia. Linehan said he hopes to use Hagans in various
roles. ... The last of the team's three spring minicamps will be June 9-11 and
include the entire squad. Training camp will open in late July. ... The Rams
have interviewed Tampa Bay executive Ruston Webster for a vice presidential
position in their personnel department, Rams president of football operations
Jay Zygmunt confirmed Monday. Webster currently is director of player personnel
for the Buccaneers.