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  1. #1
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Meet Rams reporter Nick Wagoner

    Ok we all know who Nick Wagoner is... but if you are no aware he has taken a job with ESPN. He will cover the Rams for the NFL west blog going forward.

    ESPN is smart to get Nick, they know the Rams will be the best team in the west for the next decade!

    Glad to see he's hard at it!

    Rams reset after 'phase one'

    By Nick Wagoner |

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- At the conclusion of Saturday’s scrimmage, Rams coach Jeff Fisher declared the opening phase of this year’s training camp officially complete.

    As of Monday morning, the Rams rookies had been in town for two full weeks and the veterans were closing in on that mark after joining their rookie counterparts two days later.

    Most of that time has been spent re-installing and familiarizing with schemes on both sides of the ball, a veritable refresher course on what was done during the offseason program in the spring.

    The time for slowly wading into playbooks and getting acclimated is now gone.

    “Things are going to go fast,” Fisher said. “And now we’ve got to get game ready, get the guys ready to play football.”

    The Rams will get their first chance to play someone other than themselves Thursday night when they open the exhibition season in Cleveland. Before they do, let’s take a look at 15 things we know about the Rams as they prepare for their preseason opener.

    1. The Rams’ identity is evolving into a faster, more aggressive, up-tempo approach. While the defense started the shift last year, the offense is catching up this year and it’s evident in every practice.

    2. Quarterback Sam Bradford is more comfortable in his second season in coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offense. He’s spending more time teaching and communicating with his young receivers than he did a year ago when the offense was foreign to him.

    3. Rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin is as advertised. His speed and change of direction have been apparent and the Rams are using him in many ways: wideout, running back and returner.

    4. Tight end Jared Cook and Bradford have formed a connection that’s carried over from the spring to training camp. Cook has consistently been Bradford’s favorite target.

    5. The competition at running back is only just beginning. While Daryl Richardson has seen plenty of action with the first team, Isaiah Pead has had his opportunities to work his way into the mix and rookie Zac Stacy will be heard from before the preseason slate is complete.

    6. Likewise with the battle at left guard, which is the only other spot on the offense that is a true time-share at this point. Chris Williams and Shelley Smith have taken turns with the first team but neither has separated at this stage.

    7. Receivers Chris Givens and Austin Pettis appear poised to nail down the starting spots at split end and flanker, respectively. Givens is essentially a sure thing but with Brian Quick struggling to find consistency, Pettis is staking his claim as well.

    8. Tackle Rodger Saffold is slowly, but surely, getting accustomed to the right side after spending his first three seasons on the left.

    9. So far, the team’s many veteran offensive linemen have managed to stay healthy.

    10. Competition for the safety jobs never truly materialized as T.J. McDonald and Darian Stewart have consistently worked with the first team. So long as Stewart stays healthy, it appears the starting defense is pretty well set.

    11. Rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree is already entrenched as a starter on the outside and is almost certain to stay on the field in nickel packages.

    12. The defensive line remains the team’s strongest unit and looks primed to improve on last year’s breakthrough performance.

    13. Having Tim Walton take over defensive coordinator duties has allowed the defense to focus on one voice and one direction after playing without a coordinator in 2012.

    14. The Rams’ top four cornerbacks are pretty much set with Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson and rookie Brandon McGee settled in.

    15. Among the undrafted free agents working to make the roster, linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong has impressed.


    Evening Rams' practice notes

    By Nick Wagoner |

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The Rams returned to the practice field Monday afternoon after a day off Sunday.

    Unlike last week when they returned to the practice field on the heels of a day off, Rams coach Jeff Fisher was pleased with how his team did in bouncing back from a little down time.

    “(It was) better than the last time we had a day off,” Fisher said. “Last time it took us awhile to get ‘em going. We talked about it and they came out and started making plays to start practice. I was pleased.”

    The turnaround this week will be short as the Rams prepare to travel to Cleveland for the preseason opener on Thursday night.

    As is the norm, there won’t be a whole lot of planning or scheming over the next couple of days.

    “We are just going to carry some basic things into the game,” Fisher said. “We have to prepare for their defensive front out of fairness to our guys and the quarterback so we’ll do that and then try to keep things pretty simple.”

    In other Rams' news:

    Safety Matt Daniels came off the physically unable to perform list and returned to practice Monday afternoon for the first time this camp. He’s returning from a knee injury suffered against New England on Oct. 28 of last year but is unlikely to play Thursday night.
    Receiver Nick Johnson (hamstring) and defensive tackle Al Lapuaho (hand) also returned for Monday’s workout.
    Isaac Bruce, the team’s all time leader in nearly every receiving category, is still in town working with the team’s young receivers. Torry Holt, Bruce’s long time running mate, is also in town as he prepares to provide analysis for Thursday night’s broadcast. Former Rams tackle Grant Williams was also in attendance Monday.
    Wideout Brian Quick has been up and down in camp but Monday was one of his up days. He caught a long pass down the middle in team drills in which he elevated over cornerback Quinton Pointer for a big gain and followed with catch deep down the sideline in a soft spot in the zone.
    It was running back Isaiah Pead who made the catch of the day, outmuscling linebacker Alec Ogletree for the ball and tapping his feet in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown during red zone work.
    Cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who has had some major battles with receiver Chris Givens during camp, came up with an interception after battling Austin Pettis for a pass. Jenkins batted the ball a few times before ultimately hauling it in.
    The Rams continue to take precaution with some of their veteran offensive linemen. Center Scott Wells, guard Harvey Dahl and tackles Jake Long and Rodger Saffold get regularly breaks during the course of practice in an effort to keep them fresh.
    There will be one more practice Tuesday afternoon before the Rams depart for Cleveland on Wednesday.


    Finnegan focused on fundamentals

    By Nick Wagoner |

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Seven years and 94 starts into his NFL career, Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan insists that whatever success he’s had has been centered solely on raw ability and moxie.

    As Finnegan moves toward the next stage of his career, he’s well aware that some of the natural skills that have helped him get by will slowly begin to evaporate.

    Enter defensive coordinator Tim Walton. After spending the past four seasons working with Detroit’s secondary, Walton came to St. Louis this season to take over a coordinator job that was unoccupied in 2012.

    [+] EnlargeCortland Finnegan
    AP Photo/Michael YoungCortland Finnegan signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the Rams in 2012.
    In addition to actually having just one voice calling the defense, Finnegan said Walton brings with him a deep knowledge of playing in the secondary that should help Finnegan improve as a technician.

    “It’s huge for me,” Finnegan said. “For seven straight years, I sort of got away with just talent. For him to come in, it’s really going to hopefully take my game to the next level as far as fundamentals and technique goes. I think every DB benefits from Tim Walton being here.”

    Finnegan has done just fine under the tutelage of secondary coach Chuck Cecil, posting 17 career interceptions, earning a trip to the 2008 Pro Bowl and ultimately landing a five-year, $50 million contract from the Rams in 2012.

    Cecil and assistant secondary coach Brandon Fisher have their hands full with a young secondary, which, aside from Finnegan, boasts only one player (safety Matt Giordano) with more than three years of NFL experience.

    At 29, Finnegan would seem to have plenty of solid football in his future, but he also seems to be the rare player who has an early understanding of his football mortality.

    In talking with former Rams receiver Isaac Bruce on Monday, he made a comment alluding to the best practice for extending careers deep into your 30s. He brought it up in discussing rookie wideout Tavon Austin, but it might actually apply more to a player like Finnegan as he closes in on his 30s.

    “From my background of playing this game, the more wisdom you have, I think the more success you’ll have, even over talent,” Bruce said. “Your talent starts to fade, but the more you know, you can stay in this game a long time and have a lot of success.”

    Finnegan started his first season with the Rams by posting interceptions in each of his first three games, including one returned 31 yards for a touchdown in the season opener against Detroit. Near the end of the season, Finnegan battled a thigh injury that limited him to playing exclusively in nickel situations as the third cornerback for the team’s final three games.

    As he approaches this season, Finnegan says he’s making it a point to polish up his fundamentals to ensure he can keep up with players who might get by on athleticism and talent, as he has, for much of his career.

    “Technique-wise, I think that’s overshadowed when you make plays on the field,” Finnegan said. “When your technique is bad, you look at just the end result. Oh, that was just a good end result, but everything in between was bad. If you can clean that up, what’s to say you can’t make more plays. I think that’s where we’re at this year.”

    It’s somewhat unusual for players who haven’t turned 30 to have such perspective on their careers, but Finnegan is open and honest about the best way to ensure he can continue to produce well into his next decade.

    “Not knowing when your last snap is going to be and considering my love for the game, if I can leave on that note one day and they say 'that guy was a good all-around football player, fundamentally and technique-wise on the way out,' I’ll take that,” Finnegan said.

  2. #2
    supachump is offline Registered User
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    Re: Meet Rams reporter Nick Wagoner

    I saw this a couple of days ago and I'm not sure what to make of it. I thought this was Sando's blog? Does that mean each NFCW team will have a separate writer and Sando keeps doing what he has been doing?

  3. #3
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    Re: Meet Rams reporter Nick Wagoner

    Quote Originally Posted by supachump View Post
    I saw this a couple of days ago and I'm not sure what to make of it. I thought this was Sando's blog? Does that mean each NFCW team will have a separate writer and Sando keeps doing what he has been doing?
    Not sure but we do know the media is painting the NFC West as the best division in the NFL so it makes sense to get more content out about all the teams in the west IMO.

    Glad to see we have a voice now, not that Sando was not fair, I always thought he really did not have good insight on whats going on with the Rams. I thought he was a seahawks reporter, I could be wrong.

  4. #4
    macrammer's Avatar
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    Re: Meet Rams reporter Nick Wagoner

    My issue with Wagoner is he always seemed like a mouth piece for the Rams marketing dept. But, it appears, I may have misjudged him. But he should be able to be a good voice for the Rams.....I just hope it well rounded and calls a spade a spade if need be.

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