Tuesday, August 1, 2006

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

When Tye Hill signed his five-year contract with the Rams on Sunday night, the concern for most of the people around him centered on his ability to catch up with the mental aspects of the game.

But Hill wasn’t nearly as worried about that as he was the stifling heat that this St. Louis summer has provided.

“The thing for me right now is just going out to compete in this weather because it’s hot,” Hill said. “I have been running, but football shape is a little different.”

That heat caught up to Hill fairly quick in his first practice Monday as he said he was unable to get his feet under him resulting in his being beaten for touchdowns on a few occasions.

For the most part, though, the Rams are holding up well against the extreme temperatures. The temperatures have routinely been above 100 degrees with the humidity making it even worse. At one point on Sunday, the temperature on the practice field reached 104 degrees. During Tuesday's afternoon practice, the temperature on the field was 106 degrees with the heat index checking in at 114 degrees.

With some of the tragic deaths that have taken place on football fields all over America, coach Scott Linehan and the Rams know the importance of monitoring the heat’s effects on the players.

“We pay attention to the heat but we make them play through it and they acknowledge it but they don’t complain about it and they worked and we got a lot of work done,” Linehan said.

So far, there have been limited camp casualties as the watchful eyes of the athletic training staff have ensured proper hydration. Linehan is regularly giving the players extra water breaks and allowing the older veterans to take time off from the field during the morning and afternoon practices.

Defensive tackle La’Roi Glover is the only player to miss any practice from heat related issues after he lost too much weight during a practice session. Other than that, the Rams have had no issues with heat.

Safety Corey Chavous said with a pair of early-season trips to hot-weather locations for games, the heat can only help.

“I think when you get out there the best way to handle it is just to not think about it,” Chavous said. “You can’t not deal with it because it’s a part of what we do, but that’s just training camp. I think the guys have begun to get accustomed to it. I think it’s good that St. Louis is a place that has this type of humidity and right now, fortunately, or unfortunately, we’re having a tremendous heat wave in this area. I think it’s something that’ll help us in the preseason. We’ve got to go down to Miami, so we’ve got some games that will be tested from a heat perspective and the third game of the season, I believe, is in Arizona, so some of these experiences we’re having now will only benefit us down the road.”

The Rams break training camp on August 17, leaving 16 days of camp left to battle the heat. Linehan believes the weather can be good for building character on the team, though.

“The weather is pretty tough,” Linehan said. “I had my nine-year old out here today and he made it 15 minutes before he went up to the office, so it is tough, but I think it’s great for camp. You really kind of test your toughness and your ability to fight through things at this time of year, and it’s not always going to be like this, but these are the time where you figure out how you can get through things in the tough times and it’s been great as far as I’m concerned.”

FAULK TO PUP: The Rams officially placed running back Marshall Faulk on the physically unable to perform/reserve list to clear space for Hill to be added to the active roster.

Faulk underwent knee surgery late last week and is will miss the entire 2006 season.

SETTERSTROM IMPRESSES: The Rams selected a pair of guards in the seventh round of this year’s draft in Minnesota’s Mark Setterstrom and Missouri’s Tony Palmer. Linehan said he expects a heated competition on the interior of the line and both players have been tabbed as ones to watch during training camp.

Setterstrom, in particular, has made a good first impression. After a strong offseason performance, Setterstrom has only gained steam in the eyes of Linehan with his performance in training camp thus far.

“He plays with great leverage, he's smart, he always plays with a great base and the game goes the speed it would for a veteran,” Linehan said. “You don't see him lunging and getting overextended.

“He knows what he does well and he doesn't maximize his limitations, so to speak, and that's very rare in a rookie.”

RAM BITS: Punter Andy Groom kicked the ball well again Tuesday and is starting to make enough of an impression where the competition for the punting job could get interesting…Cornerback DeJuan Groce missed Tuesday's practice because of a groin/hamstring injury...Blaine Saipaia continues to get closer to a return...Defensive end Leonard Little missed the workout because of the flu...Claude Terrell also sat out the afternoon workout