Rams Notes: Burton puts on a show
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
07/26/2008

MEQUON, WIS. Once Donnie Avery hears how fellow rookie wide receiver Keenan Burton did Saturday in the opening practice of Rams training camp, he might be more motivated to get his name on a contract.

While Avery, the team's second-round draft choice, was awaiting a contract offer that meets with his approval, Burton, a fourth-round pick, was opening eyes at Concordia University.

The speedy Burton made three dazzling catches in 11-on-11 drills, one on each sideline and another across the middle. While showering Burton with praise, coach Scott Linehan also sent a message to Avery.

"When you put pads on, guys start to stand out," Linehan said. "If I was going to go on the first day, I would say (Burton has) a pretty good handle on things. I'm very excited about that."

Burton, 6 feet and 202 pounds, was impressive during spring workouts, too. Recovered from knee and ankle injuries that slowed his senior season at the University of Kentucky, Burton has his hot wheels back.

That was especially noticeable when he burst past cornerback Ron Bartell and hauled in a long pass down the left side. Still, Burton insisted he's not looking past Friday's two-hour practice.

"The goal is do everything the coach tells me to do every day ... compete and make plays," Burton said. "And if they feel like I'm fit to be ready to play in September, then I am. If not, I need to do what I (can) to be ready."

He chose diplomacy in addressing his showing in Avery's absence. "He's handling the situation the way he feels is best," Burton said. "We don't really play the same side (of the formation), so it's not really a competition between the two of us."

After a pause, he quipped, "But he needs to hurry and get here so I can have a roommate."

A NICE START

Balmy temperatures and a gentle breeze off Lake Michigan greeted the team when it hit the fields just before 4 p.m. About 250 onlookers were in attendance, some decked out in Rams gear.

"It was a good opening day," Linehan reported. "We had a lot of meetings (earlier in the day), so it was really challenging mentally. They handled it great. They came out in a business-like fashion, and we got all our work done.

"It was just good to see everybody back out there."

PACE GETS ROLLING

A particularly encouraging sight for everyone in attendance was left tackle Orlando Pace, suited up and ready for action after being cleared medically on Thursday night. Pace is coming back from a shoulder injury that ended his 2007 season in the opening game.

"To see Orlando back out there playing ... it does a lot for just how you feel about the team," Linehan said. Pace, a seven-time Pro Bowler, took part in all but the most strenuous drills.

"We'll just kind of play it by ear with him, probably err on the conservative side for right now and see how it goes," Linehan said. "We've got plenty of time to keep working him in there."

BROWN IS HURT

First-team cornerback Fakhir Brown was the first camp casualty, going down with what preliminarily was described as a strained shoulder. "He didn't seem to think it was serious, nor did the doctors," Linehan said.

Defensive lineman Victor Adeyanju struggled with a tight hamstring. "It's just something we're managing. Nothing serious," Linehan said.

RAM-BLINGS

Two practices are planned for today, 90-minute sessions starting at 8:45 a.m. and 4 p.m. ... All practices are free and open to the public. ... For camp updates, call 314-516-8852 or check The official site of the St. Louis Rams - Home Page ... Today's weather report for Mequon: a high of 85 degrees, with a 20 percent chance of rain.