Thursday, July 27, 2006

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

At head coach Scott Linehan’s pre-training camp press conference on July 25, he sent out a message to the members of his team that there would be essentially an open competition for many of the starting positions.

Linehan even went so far as to mention the talented and older Doughnut Brothers by name when talking about the competition he expects to develop on the interior of the offensive line.

“We’ve got some guys who are in the latter parts of their careers in Andy (McCollum) and Adam (Timmerman),” Linehan said. “We’re certainly glad to have them here, but at the same time we know that these young guys are out here for a reason and they’re going to be pushing for a starting role. So everyone knows they’re going to have to keep pushing at a high level to keep their starting spot.”

While that duo has been a mainstay of the offensive line in their time in St. Louis, there is always a certain level of proof of what they bring to the table that must be offered to any new head coach. For Timmerman, who has battled through a variety of injuries, he has found a new way to prove his commitment and dedication to getting back to the level of play he was used to.

Timmerman reported to training camp almost 10 pounds below his normal weight, checking in at around 296 pounds. He attributes the weight loss to some newfound eating habits.

“I was reading a couple of books this offseason on the typical American diet and how bad it is and how obesity is an American problem and not a world problem,” Timmerman said. “For me it made a lot of sense because of what I have been involved in with agriculture and farming. It made sense. I haven’t changed every eating habit I’ve ever had, but I’ve made some changes.”

So, what made him do it?

“Too many collisions,” Timmerman joked.

The lost weight doesn’t have Timmerman feeling like a rookie or anything, but he does feel better after dropping the pounds and having just a single knee surgery in the offseason as opposed to the numerous surgeries he had last offseason.

Of course, not everybody is happy with Timmerman’s newfound commitment to eating healthy.

“I think he’s lost it,” McCollum said. “He fell off the wagon.”

Timmerman insists that he hasn’t given up his trademark doughnuts completely, but he is doing his best to watch what he eats in an effort to get his game up to his and the new coaching staff’s standards.

“I’m not going off the deep end,” Timmerman said. “He says I’m no fun to eat with anymore. I’ll still have some (doughnuts) if they bring them around. You still have to have a little happy food once in a while. I have changed a few of the things I was eating and it’s made me feel a bit better.”

For now, Timmerman hopes that will help him prove himself all over again to Linehan and Co.

“He hasn’t been around us and doesn’t know what we are all about so I think there is kind of a proving period where you have to re-prove yourself so he knows what you’re all about,” Timmerman said. “He knows you are tough, can do the assignments and do them better than anyone behind you. It always makes it interesting and hopefully the best man for the job wins the job.”

HILL WATCH: Aside from running back Marshall Faulk, who is likely out for the season because of a knee injury, the only player listed on the roster not in attendance Thursday afternoon was first-round draft choice Tye Hill.

Hill is the last of the Rams’ draft class without a contract agreement in place.

“I think we kind of took a break for a day,” Linehan said. “I know (President of Football Operations) Jay (Zygmunt) worked very hard on it all afternoon and evening. They're going back and evaluating where they're at today and I'm sure we'll hear something again later on this afternoon.”

More often than not, rookie holdouts come because the player and his agent are waiting for the players drafted in the same area as the player to sign so they can get a better idea of the dollar value for their player.

The two picks around Hill, No. 14 and 16 have yet to reach an agreement, but the Vikings signed Chad Greenway, the 17th pick and Cleveland has an agreement with 13th pick Kamerion Wimbley, so it could be just a matter of time before Hill’s deal as done, perhaps as soon as the end of the day today.

In the meantime, Linehan says there is plenty of opportunity for others to make their names known in Hill’s absence.

“I think every practice he misses is going to affect his progress,” Linehan said. “One man's bad luck is another man's fortune, and I think these other guys are out there wanting to prove a point.”

SAIPAIA OUT: The only Ram in attendance who didn’t participate in the first workout was Blaine Saipaia. The offensive lineman didn’t wear pads and rode the exercise bike during most of the practice.

RAM BITS: After a solid rain last night, the weather held out fine for the morning practice with a good breeze and overcast sky…Ron Bartell has officially been moved to free safety, working with the third team most of the day as he grows accustomed to the position again…Travis Fisher and Jerametrius Butler took turns with the first-team defense while Fakhir Brown got many reps at the other cornerback spot…rookie tight ends Dominique Byrd and Joe Klopfenstein worked with the first team in many two-tight end sets…Brandon Chillar spent most of the time at strong side linebacker with Oshiomogho Atogwe at free safety…Richie Incognito continued to run with the first-team offense at left guard.

ATTENDANCE CHECK: The weather might have limited the number of people in attendance for the first practice, but the unofficial official attendance was reported to be 909..