Hopes are high at minicamp ..
BY STU DURANDO
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Leaving the practice field Saturday, Mike Campbell had a final opportunity to make an impression on Rams coach Jeff Fisher.
But after two days of catching passes and executing drills at the team's rookie minicamp, their encounter was more about expressing gratitude than fishing for a compliment.
Campbell was one of four players invited to the minicamp for a tryout. They had two days to make an impression even if the main reason for their presence was the need for extra bodies to practice.
"I didn't pack enough things to stay, so either way I'm going home," said Campbell, who was a receiver at Temple. "I told him I appreciate the opportunity, and I'm going to take what I learned and use it to advance my career. Hopefully, I'll be seeing him again."
Campbell was joined at Rams Park by receivers Tony Logan (Maryland) and T.J. Simpson (Arizona State) and quarterback Barrett Trotter (Auburn) as players without a guarantee of moving forward with the team.
They had their expenses covered, making the experience a no-lose proposition. They went through every aspect of the minicamp as the Rams' draft picks and free agents.
But when practice ended at noon Saturday, they were headed back to uncertainty.
"I'm not signed, so just to get a chance to come to minicamp and show what I can do is better than just having one day where they say 'Come up here and throw for us a little,'" Trotter said. "It allows coaches to see what I can do and how I mesh with the team."
Trotter started the first seven games for Auburn in 2011 before losing the job. He announced in January that he would not return for his final year of eligibility. His presence gave the Rams two quarterbacks at the minicamp.
The three receivers joined second-round pick Brian Quick, fourth-rounder Chris Givens and Nick Johnson, who signed a free-agent contract after going undrafted, to provide enough players to run offense.
"They wanted an opportunity and we needed numbers to practice, so we created the opportunity for them," Fisher said. "It's no different than the guys we've had try out over the last six weeks. The only difference is they got a more extensive look, which is good for them."
The four players arrived with the hope of looking good enough to earn a free-agent contract. That's what Dominique Curry did in 2010, when he participated in minicamp as a tryout player and parlayed that into two seasons with the Rams.
But the group of receivers the Rams invited did not bring stellar college credentials.
Campbell had 45 catches for 724 yards as a senior, Logan caught nine passes in his final year at Maryland, and Simpson had 29 catches to wrap up his career at Arizona State before missing 2011 due to an injury.
All said the experience of having to try out for a team was a first.
"My goal was to catch everything, and I didn't have any drops," Logan said. "I was looking forward to going against (cornerback) Janoris (Jenkins) to judge my game against someone like that. I feel I did well. I caught all of the passes and grasped the play book pretty well."
For Campbell, this was a second NFL opportunity. He signed last season with the Jets as a free agent.
Although all four tryout players were heading home with long odds against getting a return call, none seemed willing to give up on football as a career.
"First, I'm looking for another opportunity, of course," Simpson said. "If not football, I've got a degree in justice and sociology, so I can do something in that field. But first I'll see where football leads me and hopefully get a call from the Rams."
Re: Hopes are high at minicamp ..
any word on how the runningbacks look? We need depth.