Rams Notes: Saunders' energy helps to set tempo for weekend
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Saturday, May. 10 2008

At age 61, Al Saunders isn't expected to go stride for stride with wide
receivers who can dash 40 yards in a tick or two over 4 seconds. Yet there was
Saunders, the Rams' new offensive coordinator, constantly on the move Friday as
the three-day minicamp got under way.

"He runs up and down the field like a maniac," observed rookie wide receiver
Keenan Burton.

"It was pretty famous, the lore around here about Al," coach Scott Linehan
said. "I asked him if he was going to still chase the receivers, and he said,
'You'll see.' I hope when I'm that age I can run that well."

Saunders, who was on Dick Vermeil's staff here in 1999 and 2000, showed up in a
throwback T-shirt, with "Rams Offense" printed on the front and "Gotta Go To
Work" the team's battle cry from the '99 Super Bowl championship season on
the back.

The energy in the indoor facility at Rams Park was palpable, Linehan noted. "I
was really pleased with just the tempo and the attitude, the whole deal," he
said after getting his first look at 29 new players and seven new assistant
coaches in action.

"They came out here with a whole new life and energy, and it was really
inspiring for me to see that," Linehan said. "It came from the leadership of
the team, the core leaders, and the young kids followed them. That's what we
need.

"There's a pretty refreshed feeling around here. It's amazing what a new season
and some new faces will do to everybody's attitude."

Especially after last season's gruesome showing: The Rams' 3-13 record was
their worst since moving from Los Angeles in 1995.

"Where is last year? We don't want to mention that much more," quarterback Marc
Bulger said. "We started clean; we're not going to look back. We learned what
we had to from last year, but as of a couple of months ago, I'm not going to
learn anything more from 2007. We're just going to move on and expect good
things from us this year.

"We have the talent; it's just a matter of playing as a unit and staying
healthy."

EXCUSED ABSENCES

Safety Todd Johnson and center Dustin Fry were absent, with Linehan's blessing.
Johnson was attending a charity event and should be back Sunday; Fry is getting
married this weekend.

Tackle Rob Petitti suffered a torn Achilles' tendon during the offseason
program and is "probably about six months from being cleared to do any
running," Linehan reported.

LIMITED WORK

Barely four months after undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in his shoulder,
defensive tackle Adam Carriker took part in all but the most strenuous drills.

"It's amazing. Generally with an injury like that, it's four to six months
before you can do anything. He'd probably be able to play a game if we had to,"
Linehan said. "I think a lot of it has to do with work ethic and want-to. That
guy has been busting his butt since the end of the season, and it's really paid
off."

Several other players coming off major injuries also were limited, including
tackle Orlando Pace (shoulder) and defensive end Leonard Little (toe). But all
were able to do individual work and participate in walk-throughs.

RAM-BLINGS

Running back Yvenson Bernard, an undrafted rookie from Oregon State, failed his
physical exam. Bernard had knee surgery late last season. The trial of former
Rams tight end Dominique Byrd has been rescheduled for June 23 in St. Louis
Circuit Court. Byrd is facing charges of assault and armed criminal action
stemming from a nightclub scuffle downtown in December 2006.