Initial thoughts from Rams training camp

August 10, 2009 5:44 PM

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The Rams appear content moving forward with their current receivers after learning Donnie Avery suffered a broken fourth metatarsal bone. They added safety Mark Rubin to replace the injured Eric Bassey.

I arrived at Rams camp in time to watch most of their afternoon practice. This was a non-contact practice without pads. I did not see pass-rush drills and did not see enough from the healthy receivers to get an initial feel for them. Nate Jones and Sean Walker caught deep passes. Friday will provide a much better opportunity to get a feel for the Rams.

Running back Kenneth Darby and quarterback Keith Null botched a handoff exchange. Running back Antonio Pittman dropped a short pass from Kyle Boller. Rubin picked off a pass from Null after a teammate whose identity eluded me batted it near the line of scrimmage.

Adam Goldberg was still working with the starters at right tackle, ahead of No. 2 overall choice Jason Smith. Smith won't get a break in this camp as long as Leonard Little is healthy. That's a difficult matchup for the best veteran tackles, let alone a rookie. I'll be watching Smith very closely in the Rams' exhibition opener against the Jets.


Second-round choice James Laurinaitis continued working with the starters. I'm not sure when the Rams will leave him on the field for third downs, but in speaking with veteran linebacker Will Witherspoon after practice, it seems clear Laurinaitis should contribute right away. The rookie is grasping the system and demonstrating leadership, according to Witherspoon. Veterans don't always say such things about rookies. And while Witherspoon is about as polite as any player could be, I took his comments as a positive sign for the Rams.

The Rams' linebackers were a mess against the Titans in the 2008 exhibition opener. Witherspoon missed that game. The Titans rushed for 340 yards. I'll be watching the Rams' linebackers closely against the Jets.

Overall, the heat and humidity at Rams camp Thursday was unlike anything I experienced at Cardinals, ***** and Seahawks camps over the last week. And this wasn't even a particularly bad day in those categories, by relative standards. I'll be downing plenty of water before heading out for two practices Friday. Looking forward to it very much.