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    Arrow Rams Interviews 6/5/09

    Mini-Camp III: Day 2 - Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo - June 5, 2009

    (On how the tempo of practice helps the team)

    “If you keep the tempo in practice constant throughout there’s conditioning within the practice. We believe in that. Rather than conditioning them at the end, do it within the practice. At the end of practice, in theory, it’s like the fourth quarter. Guys have to suck it up and keep that tempo going. I think it helps you in games.”

    (On how S Oshiomogho Atogwe and S James Butler are doing adjusting to each other)

    “Really good. That indicator to me is almost as much of what they do off the field as it is what they do on. I see them together all the time. James is a big help because he’s been through some of the mistakes already, so to speak. It’s been good.”

    (On how important it is for safeties to know what each other is going to do)

    “Huge because if those two are on the same page that will permeate to the rest of the defense. James (Butler) is the guy that controls it right now with OJ (Atogwe) kind of assisting him, but if they’re not on the same page, then everything goes south.”

    (On what he has seen out of CB Justin King, CB Bradley Fletcher and CB Jonathan Wade)

    “All the same things. All three of them are real hard workers. I think they all have pretty good skills. Obviously, Bradley’s a young guy, but really Justin with missing most of last year is probably in the same category, but all three of them battle and I like that. The competition part is big.”

    (On what he works on with the cornerbacks the most)

    “It’s usually about feet and hands, the press skills because that’s the toughest thing to pick up initially. But usually when you see me talking to them it’s about that.”

    (On what his experience is with rookie cornerbacks)

    “Well, I’m trying to go back. Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown both of those guys. It was a year later, it wasn’t right away. Aaron Ross in New York two years ago played a little bit early. It depends on the guy, it really does. It depends on what you have on your roster and it depends on the guy.”

    (On what he seen from LB Larry Grant and LB David Vobora)

    “The system takes a little while to sink in, but now what I see is it is sinking in a little bit so now you’re getting to see a little bit of what they do physically. I think both those guys are physical players. That’s what we hope our linebackers are going to be is physical.”

    (On the transition for Vobora learning the middle and nickel linebacker positions)

    “Well, it’s a little bit of a challenge right now, but anybody in this league that can play more than one position becomes more valuable. Versatility’s huge.”

    (On RB Steven Jackson working more on his route running than in years past and if that is an indication of how the offense is going to run)

    “It is an indication of the offense. I think it’s a credit to (running backs) coach (Sylvester) Croom as well, he’s the one working with him every day. It gives me an indication of the type of football player Steven is because if that’s sinking in that means he thinks it’s important, which tells me something good.”

    (On how much he emphasizes the blitz pick-up to Jackson)

    “I don’t think any running back in this league can get away with being a back in this league unless he can handle the pass protection.”

    (On if he is consciously evaluating the team and possible additions)

    “It’s a little early. We’re a long way away. I keep saying this and I know I sound like a broken record, but we don’t have the pads on. Again, maybe that’s because I’m a defensive guy, but until you really get the pads on the real football doesn’t surface. Sometimes certain players go up and go the other way too. We kind of hold off. We get what we can out of the evaluations, off the mental (aspect), alignments, can they pick up the system? Then we wait for the final evaluation when we get to the real game.”

    Mini-Camp III: Day 2 - DE Chris Long – June 5, 2009

    (On how much further he is along since the first mini-camp)

    “I’m way further along, but personally and just as any player, you can be way further along, but you’re not where you want to be. You never are. And you have ups and downs just like your rookie year there’s just not quite as down and out. I have good practices and bad practices, but I continue to work on what coaches tell me to work on.”

    (On if it affects him just having left side and right side tackles rather than nose and guard)

    “Not really. It does affect some things, but not how I do my job or try to carry out my assignment.”

    (On how clean the slate is this year and how that affects his mindset)

    “It’s beautiful how clean the slate is. It’s great. It’s something that we’ve all wanted; just a fresh start. I don’t think anybody was wrong last year I just think it just didn’t work out. I think this year it is that a new year. And me personally having a year under my belt with that clean slate it feels great.”

    (On if having a clean slate is liberating)

    “Liberating, yeah. It’s nice. It allows you to focus on the things that you’re supposed to focus on as a football player, rather than being panicked or scrambling to learn things. You can relax and understand that we’re all working together with the same expectations.”

    (On the repose between him and the rookies)

    “It’s cool. I thought as a rookie, you know, we’re all part of the team and treat these guys the same way I want to be treated. I mean, I’m no better than them. Even just for being a second, third, fourth year guy we need them to help us and I think they’re capable of that. Two particular guys (LB) James (Laurinaitis) and (T) Jason (Smith), they’re great players and they can help us immediately.”

    (On how comfortable he is a leader this year)

    “I wouldn’t consider myself a leader. I think I’m just a piece of the puzzle and we’re all just trying to lead together. We feed off of each other. I think the real leaders will emerge when the bullets start really flying. Leaders kind of show themselves naturally. You can’t try to be one. We’ll see who it’s going to be. We’ve got some great vets and I’ll always listen to what they say.”

    Mini-Camp III: Day 2 - T Jason Smith – June 5, 2009

    (On the transition to the NFL)

    “No. 1 it’s a privilege to be out here with these guys. It’s a great group of guys and you can feel the team bonding and the team out here playing for each other. Guys are being smart and just flying around and having fun.”

    (On his sense of the playbook and what he will be asked to do)

    “I’m understanding my playbook, but as an offensive lineman you have to know every position on the offensive line. That’s the great thing about what they’re doing – I’m learning all the positions. I’m just kind of excited that the guys are grabbing me and showing me the ropes. Adam Goldberg has been a great help to teach me the playbook and showing me what I need to do to play tackle.”

    (On if when he says he has to learn all the positions on the offensive line he means both tackle spots)

    “Both tackles. Guards”

    (On if he is working at guard as well)

    “I took a couple snaps yesterday in pre-practice. I took some snaps from (QB Brock) Berlin.”

    (On how long he has worked at left tackle in OTAs and mini-camp)

    “A couple days. I think today was my first or second or third practice. Something like that.”

    (On if he feels more comfortable at left tackle)

    “It’s all the same. Football’s football. When you’re on the offensive line you have to take the same steps, the same hand stuff for every position. Whichever one I can get at and play and help the team that’s what I want to do.”

    (On if playing right tackle feels a little different since he played mostly at left tackle in college)

    “On the right side you take the kicking with your right foot. Your right hand’s down. You’re on the right side of the offensive line. Everything’s different because everything’s predominantly right. And then on the left side everything’s left. It’s two different positions, but overall it’s the same responsibilities – block for the quarterback.”

    (On Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo telling the rookies a starting spot is not guaranteed)

    “Which is true. That’ football. Nothing’s given to you when you’re on the football field. The great thing about being an offensive lineman is I understand that. There’s a lot of work that has to be done in order for me to, No. 1, be a part of this team. And then No. 2, just to take the next step in whatever it takes for me to be a productive person.”

    (On what it says about Adam Goldberg helping him learn when Smith might end up starting in front of him)

    “I know that Adam Goldberg’s a great guy. He’s a great leader on and off the field. He talks to all us rookies about things we need to know as far as being productive and staying on the good side of the coaches.”

    (On what Goldberg has helped him with)

    “A lot of the things are just linemen stuff – the balancing and knowing the playbook as far as different protections. Three-step, Five-step. Quick sets, drop sets. A lot of stuff. And Goldberg is helping me understand everything.”

    (On what he has learned now that he did not know during the last mini-camp)

    “I’ve learned now that any little wrong thing you do the other guy will capitalize and you’ll look bad. Obviously, it’s still a great atmosphere to be here and this team is here working hard and diligent everyday. And everyday I’m learning how to be a professional. Like I was saying, Adam Goldberg is really helping me with that. Just, ‘Hey this is what you got to do.’ It helps out a lot when you’ve got a guy like him around to kind of grab you and bring you along.”

    (On if T Alex Barron has helped him)

    “Oh yeah. There are certain things in the other camp with the shoulders and stuff that he was helping me with. Like I said, the whole offensive line is a great group of guys that I can tell they just want to win. They do whatever coach tells them to do.”

    (On if feels like he needs to get to training camp because it is hard to evaluate offensive lineman without pads on)

    “You don’t really think about anything like that. You take it one day at a time and you understand that football’s a game that’s 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental. Then that mental part, you’ve got to know how to use your hands and your feet. If you put some pads on, yeah you can bang it out, but will you make it to the end? Step one was this and step two was that and whatever step Coach Spags has us at right now. I don’t know, we’re probably at five or six so at the end of the day I’m sure he has a plan of how he wants it done. Right now it’s no pads.”

    Mini-Camp III: Day 2 - LB James Laurinaitis – June 5, 2009

    (On the meaning of his bracelet)

    “We actually got these at Ohio State, but I saw a lot of guys here with them too. It just says, “I am grateful, thank you God.” I’ve been publicly expressing my faith for awhile. When I was at Ohio State for three years I publicly expressed my following of Jesus Christ and I just like to remind myself I have this bracelet on. I have a lot to be thankful for. Just the opportunity to play in the NFL is such a privilege and to be able to remind myself just looking down. Even at practice just thank you for allowing me to be out here and trying to give all my glory to Him”

    (On if he has connected with Coach Spagnuolo given his background in his faith)

    “Not yet, I think with the way everything is we’re so upbeat about football, football, football that we haven’t been able to hit that. We had a chapel and a mass the last mini-camp we had when we went Sunday. Aneas Williams came in a spoke to us, which was awesome to be able to hear him speak. But I haven’t really talked to coach about it, but I will as things get down the road. Right now, I’m trying to line up all these other guys so I don’t get yelled at.”

    (On fellow former Ohio State linebacker Larry Grant)

    “Larry is athletically, when he came over from junior college he was at mike backer and it was kind of me and him battling for the spot my sophomore year. And he’s extremely talented. He’s a guy that’s hard working and knows a lot about football. He’s a leader. He’s been a leader when he was at Ohio State, he did his job. To see him here with me is awesome because he’s helping me out with some things in the defense. I think with Larry you get a guy who’s extremely good with his hands and he makes some plays. I think if he gets the chance to play football he’s going to show some people that he’s going to be pretty good linebacker.”

    (On if he and Grant have their communication down because they have played together before)

    “Right, exactly. We’re doing things here that we’d been used to doing at Ohio State. Staying after, watching film on our own, trying to get things down. When you have guys that are already comfortable with each other it gives you a head start communicating. But regardless you’re going to have to be able to talk to these guys that you just met. Like everybody said, communicating, talking routes through coverages helps guys out, talking formation helps guys out, so there has to be a lot of communication amongst everybody.”

    (On the extent of responsibilities in coverage for inside linebackers here)

    “There’s a little bit of everything. It depends on what the play call is. There’s times when you have to be in man, there’s times you have to be in zone and you have to know where the safety’s coming down. You have to know what certain checks are. There’s certain checks in zone that we could make a call where only two guys are playing man and everyone else is playing zone. You have to know a lot of things. You need to be able to do it all, but it’s nothing really different than what we did at Ohio State in regards to what I’ll be expected to do coverage-wise. The system’s a lot different, a lot more advanced and technical and a lot of checks. But I think as far as what they expect out of me, it’s the same things we’ve been doing.”

    (On if the system is mostly advanced in the checks)

    “I just think when you’re in college there’s coverage and sometimes it will be double calls and you’ll be able to make adjustments, but every single formation there could be something else – another call to it. You can make the base call, but then depending on how many formations you can get, which is unlimited you could have a different responsibility on certain looks. It’s just about knowing football really. If you know football and you know certain formations and you’re comfortable within the defense and really study it, it makes it easy. But if you don’t you’re going to have a hard time picking it up.”

    (On what the thinking and reacting ratio is like now compared to the first mini-camp)

    “A lot better than that first mini-camp. That first mini-camp I was just trying to line up at the front. I was not even paying attention to what the offense was doing. I was just running to the ball. Right now it’s getting more of where I’m making calls, I’m communicating to the guys, getting comfortable and I’m starting to pick up on the offensive formation. Noticing little things in the wide receiver splits that gives you a way of whether it’s a play action or what not. When you’re able to get comfortable within the defense, then you can start paying attention to what the other guys are doing and I’m starting to make that transition now. ”

    (On if he is able to start watching other teams’ film or still concentrating on the Rams playbook)

    “We’re learning the Rams playbook right now. I think some of the film that we’ve watched has been of the Giants defense and the stuff that we’re running now. Just seeing the way that it’s supposed to be run at a championship level. I think that helps when you look at those guys and the way ran the defense in the system. And us too in looking at film we definitely have a lot of talent here and we just have to be able to make plays like they did. Eventually here we’ll find out what Arizona and Seattle and San Francisco are all about.”

    (On if he just keeps cramming the playbook or does he get overloaded)

    “You just keep cramming. I think the first weekend was more like, ‘Okay, this is crazy. Let’s just try to figure this out. Let’s just take a step back,” and really after that, I put more pressure on myself. I expect more out of myself. I think a lot of coaches knew the rookies were going to make mistakes because they’re new to the whole system. And even some of the other guys are making mistakes because it’s a new system for everybody. But for myself, I’m a perfectionist. So I went back and just tried to make notes. The more you write it over the more you drop formations, the more you actually see it and then when you make the mistake you don’t make the same one next time. It helps out and it’s slowing down now. I’m still making mistakes, I’m not perfect yet, but I’m trying to get there.”

    Mini-Camp III: Day 2 – CB Bradley Fletcher – June 5, 2009

    (On OTAs and mini-camp)

    “I’m just having fun practicing and learning, getting the playbook down. It’s been a good time though.”

    (On how difficult the transition is from playing in college to the NFL)

    “It’s something I knew coming here I was going to have to learn and just compete and get used to the system. But that’s what I’ve been doing so it’s been going well.”

    (On if the speed of the game is different)

    “The speed of the game (is different). There’s great competition and I’m just glad to be out here competing.”

    (On if Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo makes an extra effort to work with him and the other young cornerbacks)

    “Yeah, I’m just trying to learn from Coach. He’s really good and I’m just trying to learn from what he knows and to make myself a better player for our team.”

    (On what his strengths are)

    “You can always keep working on everything. Nothing’s just perfect. Right now, I’m just competing and getting myself better and working hard on the practice field.”

    (On if the defense is tailored to a big cornerback like him)

    “Yeah. Getting up there on the line and pressing, that’s just something that I’ve been practicing and getting better at. I’m just looking forward to practicing in today’s later practice.”

  2. #2
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    Re: Rams Interviews 6/5/09

    From the sound of things, we've got a smart, hard working, eager group of young guys who really seem to have the right attitude. I can't wait to see it all translate to the playing field. I'm always hopeful during camp, but I must admit that I'm more confident and excited this year than in the past. The atmosphere seems a lot different.

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams Interviews 6/5/09

    I can't communicate how completely and utterly satisfied I am with James Lauriniatis. He is very very well spoken. I know we're yet to see him walk the walk, but having read this, it seems like that's just going to be another step in the routine.

  4. #4
    Ramblin` Ram's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Interviews 6/5/09

    man,this is the kind of stuff i want to be reading....rather than the seemingly endless supply of threads about a certain recently released from prison,former player who got less chance than me of ever playing for the Rams.

    as already stated..the rookies that have been interviewed do seem very impressive,grounded young men and great additions to our team.

    im keen to hear about how Darell Scott (aswell as the other rookies) is settling in but i guess that will have to keep for now.

    Go (our young and hungry) Rams!!!

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