NASHVILLE – Call it the calm after the storm
By Howard Balzer
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Following a morning highlighted by several fights and trash-talking, the Rams and Titans actually got down to business Wednesday afternoon and did what they set out to do: practice.
Of course, it probably helped that players were in shorts after being in full pads for the morning workout.
After the morning practice got out of hand, Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said, “We need to focus a little bit more and stop worrying about kicking people’s butts and stuff and actually do it between the whistles. I think we got a little more focused on the brawls after (the play) instead of the actual play.”
Said Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck, “I didn’t really know what to expect. We’ve had teams in in the past and had perfect practices and nothing really going on. But for whatever reason, it got a little chippy out there today. We handled our business accordingly. We’ve got to get our business down and concentrate a little more on football.”
That was ironic coming from Bulluck, considering he was right in the middle of some of the skirmishes and was one of the most vocal trash-talkers.
Rams tackle Adam Goldberg, who got involved when rookie guard Roy Schuening was hit in the back of the head by chronic instigator Kyle Vanden Bosch, “Just a lot of friendly competition. Things get heated; it’s hot out there and everyone’s trying to protect their own guys. Nothing serious. Ninety-nine percent of the time (fights) are a waste of time. But you never know when that one percent is going to happen.”
The Rams knew not to take Vanden Bosch personally because he does what he does even with his teammates.
Prior to the Rams’ arrival, Titans center Kevin Mawae said of former Tennessee guard Jacob Bell, now with the Rams, “I'm sure he's explaining to them this is not just a gig. This is what he does every day. It's not just something for show. When they come and finally see about the big, bad Kyle Vanden Bosch, I think they'll get a better appreciation for how hard he works."
Nothing against Vanden Bosch’s work ethic and ability, but throwing players to the ground well after the whistle doesn’t take any particular talent.
Said wide receiver Torry Holt, "We knew there was going to be some pushing and shoving. That's cool. It's training camp. They've been practicing against each other for a while, and we've been practicing against each other for a while. So it's new meat. New 'booty' is what we say. Everybody is sniffing something out.
“We needed that. That's something we're trying to build on is our toughness and at the same time build on our mental toughness."
Goldberg liked the way coach Scott Linehan handled things during the morning session.
"He was in a tough position," Goldberg said. "Because you
want to have a constructive practice, and you want to have a good working relationship with the other team. But at the same time, you want your guys to back each other's play — back your brother's play.
"(Linehan) handled it very well. He said, 'All right, guys. We want to be
smart. We're not out here to fight. It's a waste of energy. We're about playing football, not stupid playground scrapping.'"
Said Linehan, “The whole idea is you have a cool down that happens when everybody’s juices are flowing. We have to be smart out here. We are in training camp. Guys are fighting for their jobs and fighting for their teammates and that’s what happens. The bottom line is we have got to come out and be productive without all of the extra-curriculars.
“It’s that time of year. Guys aren’t in very good moods out here. Tempers flare when you’re competing sometimes, and I like the way we competed. I just want to change the intensity. When you start going against another team, and you're blocking people with different colored jerseys on, things really change. And that's what I want to see from us."
The last two years, the Rams have signed two former Titans: wide receiver Drew Bennett and guard Jacob Bell.
After practice, fans in attendance yelled, “Drewwwwww, Drewwwwww.”
Said Bennett, “I have a lot of good memories here. It’s a great facility and a great organization. It’s nice to come back and see some old faces. It’s a different situation, coming across the field and seeing all the guys that you used to play with.”
Added Bell, “It’s a little different to come back in the other color jersey, but it’s good to come back, though.”
Mawae, a 15-year veteran, talked about once being interviewed Howie Long, father of Rams defensive end Chris Long.
"Thankfully, he retired a year before I got into the league,” Mawae said. As for the younger Long, Mawae said, "He's got big shoes to fill. But I think he's going to find out really quickly that you've got to be your own player. You can't live up to your dad's expectations. You've got to live up to your own. This will be his first chance to see someone other than his own teammates."
Long seemed to rise to the occasion going against a real opponent, and had a good day of work.
"I did all right,” he said. “I did some good things, I did some bad
things. I'll just keep working, same as every day. I never expect or
set goals; I just try to work day to day. It's fun. Things come together a little bit easier because you're going against different people. I always like playing against other people."
Said Linehan, "I thought he did good. He's a work in progress. But the guy is going to be everything, and more. It's just a matter of continuing to come out here and get more and more comfortable with playing in this system. I'm really happy with where he's at."
Players totally out of practice remain safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (hamstring), tight end Anthony Becht (hamstring), defensive end Victor Adeyanju (broken finger), cornerback Fakhir Brown (shoulder) and Donnie Avery (pelvic bone). Center Brett Romberg was dressed and did drills, but is not able to work in team drills because of a hand injury that affects him snapping the ball. Linehan said Avery is expected to be back in full practice Monday when the team begins work for the final four days in Wisconsin.
Linebacker Will Witherspoon bruised a shoulder in the morning and was limited in the afternoon. Linebacker Chris Draft, who had been out with a back injury, did team drills Wednesday afternoon. Wide receiver Reche Caldwell, who had a good day of practice and was involved in two skirmishes in the morning, apparently tweaked a hamstring near the end of the afternoon practice.
*Linehan on one of the advantages of working against another team:
"They have a different defensive structure, so offensively we're lining up against somebody that plays a different philosophy."
*Goldberg on the offense and the play of the line: “We feel really good. We feel like we have a balanced attack developing here. Our run game is looking real good. It feels like we’re jelling no matter who gets plugged in there. Our offensive line is playing really well. I think that's a testament to how well we're coached as a group. Our communication is great. Everybody knows what to do; what's expected of us."
*Wide receiver Dane Looker on turning 32 in May: "I'm getting a little older, but my speed feels as good as it always has, and my quickness feels the same. I try to keep my body healthy and fit, so that when you come to camp, it's not a shock to your system."
There will be a one-hour special teams practice Thursday morning. Players not on special teams for both teams will be inside the Titans’ bubble for conditioning work. Titans coach Jeff Fisher sad his team will be taking a yoga class. In the afternoon, there will be a regular practice.
Friday, the team will have individual walk-throughs in preparation for Saturday night’s preseason opener.
Re: NASHVILLE – Call it the calm after the storm
It sounds like we are maturing as a team. We could have started fights, But we didnt. seriously though i like what im hearing. Good JoB Guys!!
Re: NASHVILLE – Call it the calm after the storm
lol.. Linehan tells the team to stop fighting.
Then there's a fight on the very next play. God, nobody listens to him.