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Rams rookies on field, at last, with vets ..
BY BILL COATS
Let's hope that Rams quarterback Sam Bradford did some serious grocery shopping over the weekend. His house is home to several hungry teammates — temporarily, anyway.
Some 30 Rams players gathered Monday at Lindenwood University for the first of four daily workouts planned for this week. It's an opportunity to get some informal practice work in despite the lockout that has shut down the NFL.
Among the contingent bunking at Bradford's house are rookies Lance Kendricks, a tight end from Wisconsin drafted in the second round, and Greg Salas, a wide receiver from Hawaii taken in the fourth round.
Salas showed up on Bradford's doorstep in the wee hours Monday after a red-eye flight from California. "I rolled in at 4:30, got a couple of hours of sleep and got out here" to Lindenwood, Salas said.
He described his first on-field experience as an NFL player as "exciting."
"It's great to get out here, get to know the guys, and get to know the offense and everything we're going to have to be learning," Salas said. "You can see the difference with the leadership and the maturity of the men out here. I haven't got to experience a full NFL practice yet, with the coaches and pads and everything. I'm looking forward to that as well."
Since the draft, Kendricks said, he has been "working out every day and just talking to Sam on the phone about anything and everything I can learn. He knows so much. It's good to pick his brain a little bit."
Bradford has been communicating regularly with the rookie receivers, a group that includes Boise State wideout Austin Pettis, a third-round draftee. Pettis is expected at Lindenwood as early as today.
"We've gone over some things," Bradford said. "I've tried to explain to them in as much detail as possible the formations, routes, alignments, things like that.
"It definitely wasn't their first time to hear it when we got here" Monday.
Bradford liked what he saw from the rookies in the drills. "They hopped right in there," he said. "No hesitation from them; jumped in, got in the mix. They looked good."
Kendricks called the work this week "very important" for the first-year players.
"It's nice to be able to meet everybody and get a little bit familiar with everyone and a little bit of the offense," he said.
The newcomers haven't experienced the speed of the pro game. "No one's quite going full speed," Salas said. "No one wants to get injured out here, especially with the lockout situation. Everybody's just being cautious and going through the motions."
Also, they've seen only "a couple of sheets" of new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' playbook, Salas said. "I haven't been able to talk to the coaches or anything. Sam's out here, teaching us what he knows. We're all learning it together."
Still, they've seen enough to be encouraged about the approach.
"It looks great so far," Salas said. "There's a lot of stuff that's receiver-friendly in this offense."
The same goes for the tight ends, Kendricks added.
"We have a lot of responsibilities, to say the least. And that's great for us," he said.
Just as it's great, Bradford pointed out, to have some new targets for his passes. "Always, always," he said, laughing. "You'll never hear me complain about that."
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