Rams Look Toward Training Camp
Friday, June 16, 2006

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

The Rams wrapped up their official off-season program Thursday with the final day of organized team activities. Now, the players and coaches will head their separate ways for the next five weeks before the start of training camp on July 26.

After hiring a new coaching staff, making aggressive moves in free agency and in the NFL draft and finishing three minicamps and 12 organized team activities, 27 practices in all since April 21, the Rams are ready for the next step in preparing for the season.

“We are a whole lot more comfortable with things,” coach Scott Linehan said. “If you don’t teach it now, it can be a free-for-all for a while, so we got some confidence in it. I feel like we got a lot of things done.”

To say the least, it was a busy offseason for the Rams. Soon after hiring Linehan, it became a dizzying few months of trying to bring everything together both on and off the field.

In fact, Linehan barely had an opportunity to stop and savor his move to a top NFL job as he hit the ground running soon after being hired. He hasn’t even had time to get back to Washington and see his mother or get adjusted to St. Louis’ sometimes tricky highways and roads. The only paths Linehan really knows involve getting to and from Rams Park. He hasn’t even been to the Edward Jones Dome since he coached there with Minnesota a couple of years ago.

Now, Linehan will have some time to do that before returning with the coaching staff in mid-July to start setting things up for training camp.

“Things are going the way we planned them and that’s good because we don’t want to be wasting our time,” Linehan said. “We will report back as a staff in mid-July and get the finishing touches to our camp ready. We’d like to have our practice scripts and things ready.”

As things stand, Linehan estimates that the defense is ahead of the offense in terms of how much of the playbook is in and how those units understand what has been installed.

On defense, Linehan believes the group is close to having everything put in and the only thing left to do is some sharpening on the details.

“There’s still a learning curve,” linebacker Will Witherspoon said. “You have rookies still coming in and learning. It’s a great thing to finally have everyone working together. Everyone is working and we are one step closer to getting to training camp and starting the season.”

Meanwhile, the offense is still working on getting past the basics of Linehan’s system. Linehan said the offense is about 40 percent in with most of the specialty situations, such as red zone offense and plays designed for certain defenses, still needing to be installed.

Most of that work can be done in training camp, assuming that everyone keeps their nose in their playbooks for the next five weeks.

“The main thing now is that we all take care of our business until we come back,” Linehan said. “We feel we are accountable and we don’t need to be told. If you can’t accomplish that, then you start taking it back.”

Maintaining a level of knowledge about the playbook is imperative, but the physical side of things will also be important for a number of players over the next month. There will be continued conditioning for some of the younger players for the next couple of weeks, but it will be necessary for many of the younger players to get in as good a shape as possible.

“It’s really critical that we not lose what we have gained to this point, especially on the conditioning side,” Linehan said. “We will continue to have a conditioning program with all of the rookies and a lot of the veterans will still be here working out. After that they will have some time.”

And though the off-season will finally slow down for Linehan and the Rams after a whirlwind few months, training camp isn’t too far off.