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  1. #1
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    Rams Begin next Phase

    Rams Begin Next Phase

    By Nick Wagoner

    With all of the benchmark offseason events – the NFL Draft, free agency, the schedule release – in the rearview mirror, the Rams are entering one of the most important phases of any offseason in terms of player development as they began Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Tuesday.

    On the heels of last weekend’s rookie minicamp in which 38 players got their first taste of coach Jeff Fisher and what his staff requires, almost everybody was back in the building and on the practice field Tuesday.

    Although the rookies were in town for the minicamp and the veterans have been around for the offseason conditioning program, Tuesday marked the first time all parties were taking part in football activities together.

    Over the course of the next four weeks, the Rams will hold 10 such practices capped off by a full-squad minicamp from June 12-14. In between, the team can continue the offseason conditioning program on non-OTA days.

    The goal in that time is to get everyone on the same page and get one complete installation of the offense and defense in place.

    “As we told the varsity this past week, we’re going to start again from Day One with the installation, and by the time we’re done in mid-June, we will have installed absolutely everything,” Fisher said. “Then we’re going to do it again when training camp starts. So when they come and report to training camp, they’ll know exactly what to expect through camp. The only difference is we’re going to put some pads on at times.”

    Nearly every Ram appeared for Tuesday’s workout, including veterans such as running back Steven Jackson, quarterback Sam Bradford, linebacker James Laurinaitis and end Chris Long.

    There is, however, a trio of rookies who aren’t allowed to participate because of league rules. NFL rules state that a player whose class has yet to go through graduation cannot attend any offseason activities until that class has gone through the process.

    Schools that go on the quarter system instead of the semester system almost always fall into that category. A number of PAC-12 schools run on that system with a few others scattered throughout the country.

    Running back Isaiah Pead (Cincinnati), punter John Hekker (Oregon State) and tight end Cory Harkey (UCLA) did not attend Tuesday’s workout and won’t be able to return until June.

    Pead’s school finishes a week or so before the Rams’ final minicamp so he’ll be able to get in some late work but Hekker and Harkey don’t have graduation ceremonies until the weekend of the Rams’ final rookie minicamp.

    While those three players were fed quite a bit of information over the weekend, they will be behind upon their return.

    “You’re always very optimistic,” Fisher said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to get done, so if you’re leading into, ‘Would I say that about any of these guys?’ No, that’s not the case. This is a good class. They’re working good together.”

    One player present for Tuesday’s OTA that previously wasn’t signed is wide receiver Mike Campbell. Campbell came to the Rams on a tryout basis for last weekend’s minicamp and did enough to impress the coaching staff to earn a contract.

    Campbell actually was a part of the 2011 draft class and spent the majority of last year with the New York Jets practice squad.

    For the rookies, the addition of the veterans to the mix can be a bit intimidating and daunting but Fisher did his best to indoctrinate the group in a way that will make the transition easier at last weekend’s orientation.

    There, Fisher and Co. fed the rookies plenty of the offense and defense in long meeting sessions and did his best to get them conditioned without pushing them too far. Now, they have to find a way to fit in and start learning from their older counterparts.

    “I am just trying to take it all in so I can catch up fast,” rookie safety Matt Daniels said. “The coaches are doing a great job with installation and making sure we know how the system works and what our responsibilities are. Coach Fisher did a great job of not working us too hard out here. He took care of us and made sure we all had fresh legs for the start of the next phase.”

  2. #2
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    Re: Rams Begin next Phase

    Hope They develop what Marty Gilyard got by not learning the playbook.

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