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Rams battle the heat in training camp
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Friday, Aug. 04 2006
Whether training here or in Macomb, Ill., no St. Louis Rams team has broiled in
the sun like the 2006 squad.
Thursday brought a respite of sorts, with a temperature of 89 degrees and a
heat index of "only" 95 when the team began its afternoon workout. Before that
the Rams fought through a blistering opening week of camp. For six straight
days, the high temperature ranged from 96 to 101 degrees.
"You can train anywhere in this country, but there's nothing you can do to get
ready for this heat," wide receiver Torry Holt said late last week. "The
temperature out here's crazy."
"I've had my battles throwing up every day," defensive end Anthony Hargrove
said. "I enjoy doing that, though - throwing up - because you've got to find
out really how far you can go. I don't know how we do it. This is the stuff
that you really don't get paid for - sitting out in this 110-degree heat."
The Rams frequently place a thermometer on the grass to gauge the on-the-field
temperature. On Monday, it read 116 degrees.
"Like Coach (Jim) Haslett said, the sun's been there for millions of years,"
safety Oshiomogho Atogwe said. "It's not going nowhere. You've just got to bear
down. You can't run from the heat. ... When plays need to be made, you've got
to make 'em no matter what the weather."
It's a test of conditioning, focus and mental toughness.
"But at the same time it's fun," Hargrove said. "Because once the sun's beating
down on you, you've got to find something else to kind of excite yourself."
So every now and then Hargrove can be heard yelling on the practice field -
just for the "fun" of it.
"It's a tension-breaker," he said.
So far, the Rams have made it through the heat relatively unscathed and with
few heat-related problems. According to coach Scott Linehan, the number of IVs
needed to restore fluids is down from last year.
Only one player, Pro Bowl defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, has missed practice
time because of heat-related problems. He lost too much water weight last
Friday and was held out of Saturday morning's practice. Players are weighed
before and after every practice during camp to guard against excess weight loss.
"You've got to manage the guys who have extreme weight loss," Linehan said.
"La'Roi does it every year. He's a guy that sweats a lot, loses a lot of water
Glover was back on the practice field Saturday night and hasn't missed a
practice since. Athletic trainer Jim Anderson and his staff have made sure the
players are getting plenty of liquids. Hargrove, for example, says he drinks
about 15 bottles of Gatorade a day. Regular water breaks are scheduled during
every practice, with Linehan occasionally adding extra breaks.
And Thursday, the Rams did what thousands of St. Louisans do every summer to
beat the heat - they headed to the pool. After weight training Thursday
morning, the players were instructed to grab towels and shorts, were loaded
onto buses and taken to a water park in Maryland Heights. The park was closed
to the public while the Rams cooled off.
"We were there for about 45 minutes," Linehan said. "Even went down a couple
slides. That was interesting. When I saw a human chain going down the slide, I
was a little nervous, making sure they didn't dog-pile each other.
"It was therapy for the mind to go get in the pool a little bit. And it's also
good for your legs to get in the water. We've got the cold tubs here, but it's
not the same."
Defensive end Leonard Little, who has been with the Rams since 1998, said the
team has never done anything like that in his tenure with the club.
"Nothing of that sort," Little said. "Usually we get a night to go to the
movies or something like that. But never to go to the water park and hang out
with the fellas and slide down slides like kids. It was fun."
As much as the players might like it, Linehan can't organize a daily field trip
to a swimming pool. Instead, what has kept heat-related problems to a minimum
during camp is:
A solid base of conditioning, established during the offseason program in
April, May and early June.
"We spent a lot of time running," Linehan said. "We pushed them."
Linehan's "2-1" training camp schedule, in which the Rams practice in the
morning and the evening on one day but follow that with only one afternoon
practice the next day.
"It gives the guys time to replenish (fluids) and get their weight back up,"
Linehan said. "There's no way if you're doing the two-a-day schedule in this
heat - the old way - where you're coming back two hours, three hours from now
and getting back out here."
On days when the Rams practice in the morning and evening, they also escape the
hottest part of the day.
"You know what? I think it is working out," safety Ron Bartell said. "We're
pretty fresh the next time we have practice. ... I think it does kind of keep
Re: Rams battle the heat in training camp
Am I the only one disappointed that this was the best thing they could find to write about as today's feature?