Nick's Notes: July 25
Friday, July 25, 2008
Nickís Notes: July 25, 2008
MEQUON, Wis. Ė
- Just when it seemed that all would be peaceful and serene on the shores of Lake Michigan, it all broke loose on Friday, the first official day of training camp. Running back Steven Jackson and receiver Donnie Avery are not here and their status is uncertain. Jackson, of course, is under contract while Avery has yet to agree to a rookie contract.
- Since Jackson is the key cog to this offense, his absence is clearly the more glaring of the two. The NFL is a difficult business and itís hard to begrudge anyone playing the game the opportunity to get as much as they can when they can because of the nature of the sport. Jackson wants to be compensated like one of the top running backs in the league. The Rams WANT to compensate Jackson as such, but so far no deal has been reached.
- The Rams made a lucrative offer to Jackson that would have made him among the highest paid backs in the league on Thursday night. On Friday afternoon, Jackson and agent Eugene Parker opted to reject that offer.
- While Jackson and his representative are entitled to get all they can when they can, the Rams also are clearly entitled to take the hard line stance they opted for on Friday afternoon. Team President Jay Zygmunt made it clear that no further negotiations will take place until Jackson arrives in camp. In the meantime, Jackson can be fined up to $15,000 a day for every day he misses.
- It seems both sides understand the nature of this business and there doesnít seem to be any hostility in these negotiations but it seems both sides are more than clear on what their stance is. My guess? Jackson will be in camp sooner than later, with or without a contract.
- More perplexing was the absence of second round pick Donnie Avery. Avery has been given an offer worth more than the player drafted behind him (Washingtonís Devin Thomas) and less than the one drafted ahead of him (Miamiís Philip Merling) and worth more than the player drafted in his spot in 2007 (Arizonaís Alan Branch).
- Still, Avery has yet to agree to terms and the Rams donít have a whole lot of wiggle room in terms of their rookie salary cap to add more to their offer.
- While Avery was busy not being at camp, his fellow rookie wideout Keenan Burton was busy being one of the two or three most impressive players on the field in the teamís first practice Friday afternoon.
- Burton was all over the field, hauling in a long touchdown pass over Ron Bartell down the left sideline, taking an end around off the edge and bursting through the hole for a long touchdown run and making a few more impressive grabs. After one day in the battle for the third receiver spot, advantage Burton.
- Elsewhere on the field, left tackle Orlando Pace participated in a good amount of the teamís practice. Pace did none of the work in the one-on-one pass rush drills but worked in during team drills. On one play, Pace even knocked rookie Chris Long to the ground with a powerful punch when Long went to an inside move.
- Long fared better against Adam Goldberg, beating him with a swift hand slap around the edge for an easy sack during one on ones.
- Elsewhere in those pass rush drills, a pair of defensive ends were awfully impressive. Not the two you would think, though. James Hall showed some explosive strength on straight bull rushes, including one turn in which he put guard Jacob Bell flat on the ground. Victor Adeyanju continues to impress after a big offseason, doing similar things and even showing some strong technique off the edge.
- Among some of the other young defensive tackles vying for attention, Willie Williams had a couple of standout moments.
- Trent Green looked young again, throwing a variety of gorgeous deep balls, including one for a long touchdown to Derek Stanley.
- Brett Romberg worked with the top unit in the first portion of the installation but the Rams worked Richie Incognito in plenty and coach Scott Linehan says that will continue.
- The first practice drew a decent crowd, estimated at about 250 people.