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Rams set for first remote camp in 4 seasons
By R.B. FALLSTROM | AP Sports Writer
July 24, 2008
MEQUON, Wis. - Eleven victories in two seasons moved St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan to make this a season of change. It all begins with training camp far from home.
No longer the team to watch in the NFC West, the Rams headed north about 400 miles to suburban Milwaukee -- Packers country -- in search of the missing spark. Linehan, who opted to keep the team in St. Louis his first two seasons, is hopeful cooler weather, the opportunity for team bonding and the absence of distractions will help put last year's 3-win team back on the map.
"It'll seem like Groundhog Day for a couple of days up there, but that's what you want in training camp," Linehan said. "While you're getting your work done, you want a kind of tight-knit environment."
The move is part of an overall makeover most evident in a massive staff overhaul, but that extends even to Linehan's crewcut. His vehicle, black last season, is now white. He switched routes down the staircase with his son at home.
"The general theme: Things are going to be different," Linehan said. "Expect things to be different. We've got to find that formula."
For now, there's also a lighter atmosphere. Asked to assess the Rams' strengths, Linehan quipped that one obvious asset is, "We're undefeated right now."
From a practical standpoint, avoiding the oppressive heat of the lower Midwest and reducing wear and tear on the grass fields at Rams Park factored into the decision to choose a remote site. The fields at Rams Park have taken a beating with year-round use.
Concordia University, the 2,000-student host school, lured the Rams for a one-year trial run with two FieldTurf fields -- the same as the team's practice field and game-day surfaces. A large welcoming committee, mostly school staff, was waiting when the team pulled up in four buses following a charter flight Thursday, and applauded as players walked past.
Players are being housed in a new dormitory with twin beds pushed together for a king-size effect, and new flat-screen TVs in all the rooms.
Return man-wide receiver Dante Hall and running back Steven Jackson missed an initial chance at getting oriented with the campus, flying up separately from the team, but were expected for the first workout on Friday. Second-round pick Donnie Avery, a wide receiver, had not yet signed but Linehan expected he'd be in the fold quickly enough that he wouldn't miss any practice.
Cooler forecasts, aided by Lake Michigan breezes just a stone's throw from the fields, did not hurt in the decision to become the third team to train in what used to be a thriving "Cheese League" in Wisconsin. Linehan has been monitoring the weather the last few weeks, and noted it's been about 10-15 degrees cooler than in St. Louis the last few weeks.
"The temperature will be conducive to getting those afternoon practices in that are sometimes hard to get in, in the Midwest," Linehan said. "We'll see after we go through it one time, but I think we'll find that we can get a lot more work done."
Two joint practice days at the Tennessee Titans' camp in early August will break the routine. The Rams are also treating their players like responsible adults, giving them the option of a rental car while in camp while providing a shuttle to downtown Milwaukee.
"I don't think there's going to be a real need for it," Linehan said. "Everything is right here."
The biggest reason for change probably is getting away from what can become a grind, with minicamps segueing into organized team activities, or OTAs, followed by training camp and then practices for the regular season. The names change, not the location.
"It just seems like it was the same old, same old," Linehan said. "There's really no break for the players, and I'm just talking about the change of environment.
"I put a lot of thought into doing some things different anyway, and just really feel like the environment of a training camp, you can't do that when you're at your facility."
Re: Rams set for first remote camp in 4 seasons
Seattle is on its way down after losing Alexander(from 2005) and I can't believe that Julius Jones will show himself to be anything close to him. So again it will be up to Hasselbeck and his arm, only with much less of a threat to keep defenses honest. He'll get his yards, but I bet the chickens go 8-8.
Us on the other hand... anywhere between 6-10 and 10-6. And I think it all depends on the big O.
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