Rams Ready to Heat Up Final Minicamp
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

Temperatures in St. Louis have been on the rise in recent weeks, culminating in the hottest organized team activity the Rams have had on Tuesday.

As coach Steve Spagnuolo walked off the field following that work out with his team, he couldn’t help but comment about how hot it was on the field, saying he figured it was a taste of training camp for the Rams.

While the temperatures on Tuesday soared, they still dangle well below what this summer will provide but if nothing else Spagnuolo is hoping to use the weather to give his players a little taste of what awaits them in training camp during this weekend’s final team minicamp.

“One thing about the weather being the way it is right now I think it is good that we have back-to-back practices on a particular day,” Spagnuolo said. “Right now there’s just one (practice) a day, which gets us a little bit in the flow of what it will feel like in late July and August. I think in that regard it will be a little cardiovascular. They’ll be able to feel some of the things we’ve tweaked to kind of make it appear that we’re in training camp just with what we’re doing with our practices. Hopefully, it will ease us right into that.”

In his first offseason as a head coach, Spagnuolo has taken each step with the same like-minded focus of working one event, one day at a time with the ultimate goal off in the distance.

At the first minicamp back in April, Spagnuolo emphasized the need to see his players in a competitive (though unpadded) environment that would allow he and his coaching staff to see the players in person and make judgments on what was already in place heading toward the NFL Draft.

The second minicamp that took place at the beginning of May brought about a different intent, this time with the idea of incorporating rookies into the mix while not stunting the growth and learning the veterans had during the first minicamp.

This time around, Spagnuolo hopes the team can put the finishing touches on the installation of the new offensive and defensive systems and begin focusing on more opponent-specific work.

“As a matter of fact where we’re headed into next week and definitely into the last week we’ll start focusing on the NFC West teams,” Spagnuolo said. “So there won’t be any installation. It will just be things that we think we might be using in the season. We’re definitely headed that way.”

Like the organized team activities and the two minicamps that have already happened, the Rams will once again be without full pads for this weekend’s final minicamp.

This one will kick off on Thursday morning and comes to a close in the early afternoon Saturday.

In between, the Rams will have plenty of meetings, five practices and plenty of competition as all of the work done in the classroom and various meetings room is starting to manifest itself on the field.

Throw in the added degrees on the thermometer and Spagnuolo hopes this final minicamp can literally be a miniature training camp.

“Well, I’ll tell you what happens on a day like today where it’s warm and I kind of tried to keep a keen eye on it…when the heat starts to set in are they going to let it get in (their heads) and is it going to affect them?” Spagnuolo said. “Now without watching the film I don’t really know for sure, but I thought we did a pretty good job of fighting that mental part of it. It’s all kind of coming together. The physical part we all know doesn’t really kick in until we put the big pads on. So they have to get the mental part down now because it’s going to be a real challenge in July and August.”

In explaining how he hopes this final minicamp will go, Spagnuolo also volunteered some minor details on how he wants to run his first training camp.

Officials times and dates have not yet been announced for the team’s training camp return to St. Louis but it appears the team will shift away from the two practice, one practice, two practice schedule it has used the past four or so years.

During the minicamp, the team will practice in the morning and again in the mid-afternoon, a plan it will likely follow in the opening stages of training camp though it will be adjusted and altered throughout the course of the summer.

After Saturday, the Rams have six more OTAs before departing for the summer.

“It starts out that way and then it shifts gears after about four or five days,” Spagnuolo said. “Two or three weeks into it, it will change again. We kind of gear things so that we can get ready to play a game. It’ll be physical and the guys will get some work in and you guys keep scaring me with all the heat, but I think we’ll be ok.”