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Thread: Learn To Play With Pain Baby ...
Learn To Play With Pain Baby ...
Play with pain, team is told
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Friday, Aug. 01 2008
MEQUON, WIS. — The dog days of training camp are upon us. One week in, and still more than one week away from the first preseason game.The aches and pains of two-a-days begin to mount, spirits sag, and the sideline
can become littered with injured players. This was especially true Wednesday,when no fewer than 15 Rams missed all or part of practice with assorted ailments.Not since the early days of Dick Vermeil and his notorious three-hour practices in Macomb, Ill., has there been such a body count at Rams camp.
Instead of feeling sorry for the players, coach Scott Linehan gathered the
squad together near midfield with about a half-hour remaining in the afternoon practice. He lashed out at the team to work through the discomfort. Earlier in that same practice, offensive coordinator Al Saunders had a similar message for the offensive squad, particularly the pass-catching positions:
"If you can't go full speed, don't go! If (the quarterback) can't get his
timing, we can't win as a football team! There's no compromising on effort!
"The intensity just wasn't there," wide receiver Dane Looker said. "I think
(Linehan and Saunders) just wanted to send a signal that hey, this is not an
acceptable way to practice no matter how sore you are, no matter how hot it was."Just a couple of numbers from 2007 explain why Linehan and Saunders want the Rams to be more mentally tough: 147 to 40. That's how badly the Rams were outscored in the fourth quarter last season.
"You're tired and sore," Linehan said. "Some guys are hurt. Some guys are
taking every snap. That's what football is. You train yourself for the season
during training camp. You can't do that during OTAs. You can't even begin to do that. This is where you get tougher as a team."
And tougher is what the Rams need to be if they want to improve on last
season's 3-13 disaster. Wide receiver Torry Holt has talked about the need to develop grit, and other veterans have echoed those thoughts in varying degrees.
On Tuesday, Linehan even gathered the "30-somethings" — most of the veterans on the team — at the end of practice to drive home the point about working through the dog days of camp. He wants the veterans to be leaders in encouraging the younger players.
"It's easy the first day out (in camp)," Linehan said. "Everybody's pretty
lively, and they've got a lot of spunk to them. But you get to this time, you
kind of find out what people are made of. This is where you develop that. And your leaders obviously have been through it. … They've got to bring everybody with them."
Part of being a head coach is that fine line between knowing when to push
players a little harder, and knowing when to back off. At the end of
Wednesday's practice, Linehan threw them a bone. No team meetings. There was still a curfew. But for the first time since arriving in Mequon, the players
got to exhale for a few hours.
On Thursday, the Rams had only one practice and it was much crisper. The
weather was significantly cooler than Wednesday. Two of the walking wounded returned to work, meaning "only" 13 players missed all or most of practice. And the intensity was back.
"No matter how much working out you do in the summer leading up to (camp), it's just tough to get back in that football condition," Looker said.
Studies of past training camps have shown that many of the so-called fatigue injuries occur on day 4 or 5 of camp, to the point where some Rams medical officials have wondered whether it wouldn't be prudent to give the players a full day off at that point in camp.
An added factor at Concordia University is that almost all of the practice work is being done on artificial turf, which is less forgiving on the legs.
"It's kind of a give and take with the weather and the turf," Looker said.
"It's not real hot here, but it does pound you a little hard on that turf.
Grass is definitely more forgiving."
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