After a get-together with the team's veterans the weekend before the draft, new coach Scott Linehan is greeting the rookies and some first-year players this weekend in another camp. In June, the team will have its mandatory, full-squad mini-camp. This weekend is about beginning to teach rookies the new world of the NFL.
Said Linehan, "You've got to be able to get them to the next page. We'll spend a lot of time teaching them basic information: huddle procedure, play-calling, terminology, names of fronts and coverages, those kinds of things. That's really important in order to get to a certain level of comfort. ... You want to take away that anxiety."
It's one reason a lot of teams bring in the rookies alone, so that they can learn in an environment without veterans. There will be plenty of time for that in June, and when training camp begins at the end of July.
"We want to get the rookies up to speed a little bit," he said. "The first-year players will be able to help them kind of get started, how we do things, snap counts, alignments, calls, all those things. We want them to learn how we practice as a team and then how we do individual things by position, what we expect.
"I'm eager to look at all of them. Obviously, looking at our new players that we drafted and signed as free agents, but also some younger players that we didn't get to evaluate too much at the first mini-camp. I'm equally excited about both opportunities."
Two players to be watched closely will be right ends Joe Klopfenstein (second round) and Dominique Byrd (third round). Gthe trade of tight end Brandon Manumaleuna on the second day of the draft has left the Rams with little experience at the position and no true blocker.
Said offensive coordinator Greg Olson, "Expectations are high because of where we've taken them. We'll bring them along and see what they can do. It's too early to make an assumption about where they're going to be."
—Because final exams have not yet occurred yet at Stanford, by rule, third-round pick Jon Alston is not in attendance at the mini-camp.
Alston is expected to contribute at both linebacker and safety, depending on how fast he learns the defense.
—First-round pick Tye Hill is looking forward to his first mini-camp, but he's already champing at the bit for September to roll around.
"I'm excited about getting out there and performing," Hill said. "But I can't wait until all this stuff is over, as far as mini-camps and training camp. I hate camp. I'm ready to get into the season."
Hill was glad to renew acquaintances with other players.
"I know most of them," he said. "I played against (Virginia's) Marques Hagans and (Colorado's) Joe Klopfenstein. And I played with (Southern California's) Dominique Byrd and the defensive end from Indiana (Victor Adeyanju) at the Senior Bowl."
As for the scrutiny he will face, Hill welcomes it.
"That comes with being a first-round draft pick," said Hill.
—Coach Scott Linehan referred to defensive coordinator Jim Haslett as "the lobby king" because of his persistence in having the Rams draft for defense. It was a joke, but Haslett got a tad defensive when told of Linehan's comment.
"We had 10 draft picks, and five were offense and five were defense," Haslett said. "So it came out even."
Of course, what he didn't mention was that three of the five offensive selections came from the fifth round on, with two in the seventh round. The reality is that three of the Rams' first four choices were on defense.
Haslett knows there is a lot of work to be done.
"I think the whole defense has to play better than they played the last couple of years, especially on the run game," Haslett said. "I want our defensive team to be tough-minded and physical. But I also want them to be good (at) technique, smart, and I want them to be good tacklers. And I don't think it was a good tackling football team last year."
—General manager Charley Armey is feeling better after being briefly hospitalized during the weekend of the draft when he experienced pain in his arms and chest. It occurred around the end of the first round.
He went for tests, and was back on the job the next day.
"I was just sweating and my blood pressure was high," Armey said. "They (doctors) figured I just got really dehydrated and run down a little bit because I hadn't had a lot of sleep. And my blood pressure's high, so they just wanted to be precautionary."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They took X-rays of my head, and they showed nothing." — Rams general manager Charley Armey on tests he received during draft weekend because he experienced pain in his arms and chest
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: P Bryan Barker; RB Aveion Cason; CB Terry Fair; OG Tom Nutten; TE Roland Williams.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: CB Dwight Anderson; DT Jeremy Calahan; S Dwaine Carpenter; TE Jerome Collins; DE Clifford Dukes; LB Mike Goolsby.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: WR Isaac Bruce; WR Kevin Curtis; DE Brandon Green; CB DeJuan Groce; LS Chris Massey; WR Shaun McDonald; OG Blaine Saipaia; QB Jeff Smoker; LB Drew Wahlroos.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: CB Fakhir Brown; S Corey Chavous; RB Tony Fisher; QB Gus Frerotte; DT La'Roi Glover; WR Brad Pyatt; FB Paul Smith; LB Raonall Smith; OT Todd Steussie; P Matt Turk; LB Will Witherspoon.
PLAYERS LOST: S Adam Archuleta; LB Chris Claiborne; S Mike Furrey; RB Arlen Harris; CB Corey Ivy; DE Tyoka Jackson; CB Chris Johnson; DT Damione Lewis; LB Jeremy Loyd; TE Brandon Manumaleuna; QB Jamie Martin; OT Matt Morgan; NT Ryan Pickett; OL Rex Tucker.