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Rams Continue Talks With Draft Picks ..
By BILL COATS
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Although none of the Rams' seven draft picks is signed and the start of training camp is just 2˝ weeks away, Kevin Demoff is getting plenty of rest these days.
"I don't lose any sleep," Demoff, the team's lead contract negotiator, said Monday. "These things have a way of working themselves out. ... I would be shocked if there was a holdout" on July 31, when the first official camp practice is scheduled for Rams Park.
The Rams have reached agreement with their third-round choice, cornerback Bradley Fletcher of Iowa. Fletcher's agent, Andy Simms, said the four-year deal included a signing bonus of $892,298. Agreements with defensive tackle Darell Scott, the Rams' fourth-round selection, and wide receiver Brooks Foster, their fifth-rounder, could be completed within the next couple of days, said Demoff, whose title is executive vice president of football operations.
Of course, the most interest lies in the team's top two picks, both of whom are expected to be in the starting lineup Sept. 13 when the Rams open the regular season at Seattle. Demoff said talks with first-rounder Jason Smith, a tackle from Baylor, and second-rounder James Laurinaitis, a linebacker out of Ohio State, were "going well."
Smith and Laurinaitis are represented, respectively, by St. Louis-based agents Ben Dogra and Tom Condon, both of CAA Football.
"I've had an excellent relationship with Ben and Tom," said Demoff, who negotiated contracts for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before coming to St. Louis. "I've done two first-rounders with Ben; we did (running back) Cadillac Williams (in 2005), and we did (guard) Davin Joseph (in 2006) together when I was in Tampa. So, I don't have any real concerns. ...
"I'm extremely confident that those guys will be here. Unforeseen things happen, but I'd be very disappointed in both us and them if they weren't here on time" for the opening of camp.
NO ATOGWE DEAL YET
Under NFL rules, safety Oshiomogho "O.J." Atogwe, who has not signed his one-year tender as the Rams' franchise player, has until Wednesday to work out a long-term contract with the club. If no agreement is struck, negotiations could continue but Atogwe wouldn't be able to sign such a deal until after the season.
"We've been talking with O.J. since January," Demoff said. "We value O.J. as a player, and we understand where the market is. ... We're not there on a long-term deal yet, but we could be there by Wednesday."
Atogwe's agent, Ken Landphere, didn't respond to a voice mail Monday. Atogwe, a starter the past three seasons, participated in the entire offseason program even though he technically wasn't under contract with the Rams.
If a deal isn't reached, Demoff said he expected Atogwe to "sign his tender and be here for camp. O.J.'s been a model franchise player ... someone who participated in the offseason workouts to their fullest extent and did not say anything about his contract.
"Both sides have worked quietly behind the scenes, and we'll see where it winds up on Wednesday."
RAMS ROSTER MOVES
The Rams have 84 players on their current roster, two fewer than attended the last of the team's three minicamps, in early June. Since then, guard Ray Feinga, tackle Daren Heerspink and safety Mark Rubin were released, and tackle Renardo Foster was claimed off waivers from Atlanta.
Feinga and Rubin were undrafted rookies; Heerspink was on Miami's practice squad last year.
Foster, a 6-foot-7, 340-pound University of Louisville product, played in seven games with the Falcons as an undrafted rookie in 2007 before a knee injury ended his season. He was on the physically-unable-to-perform list all last season.
NEW TURF FIELD
Installation of an AstroTurf surface on one of the three practice field continues at Rams Park. The work is expected to be completed before training camp begins.
The grass field being resurfaced had drainage problems and often was too soggy to be used. The artificial turf should solve that problem and give new coach Steve Spagnuolo more room to drill his troops during his first training camp with the Rams.
Re: Rams Continue Talks With Draft Picks ..
Come on, let's lock Atogwe up!
Re: Rams Continue Talks With Draft Picks ..
It's nothing close to letting him walk away... it's just that they haven't agreed upon the long term deal. I put my money on Atogwe signing his 1 year tender on Thursday if he doesn't sign a long term deal by tomorrow.
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