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    Rams' Smith getting more reps with first team ..

    BY JIM THOMAS
    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 12:00 am

    There's still a long way to go before the regular season 4 weeks to be exact. But Jason Smith took another step toward being in the opening day lineup Tuesday at Rams Park.

    For the first time in training camp, Smith worked with the starting offensive unit during 11-on-11 or "team" drills. In fact, he was in with the No. 1 offense for all but the final team period Tuesday afternoon.

    "It felt great," Smith said. "Just being with the other guys, being with Goldie (Adam Goldberg), and being with Hank (Fraley) and Jason Brown. ... And the new guy, Rodger (Saffold). I'm just really excited I was in the huddle with those guys."

    As such it was another milepost for Smith the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft on the road back from a fractured toe in early June.

    For his part, coach Steve Spagnuolo downplayed Smith's workload.

    "It's a day-to-day thing," Spagnuolo said.

    He pointed out that the Rams had only one practice on Tuesday making it easier for Smith to get extended work. He noted that the Rams spent half the practice in 'shells" or light padding which meant less contact.

    "Every day you get him a little bit more (involved), and then you find out how the foot responds," Spagnuolo said.

    But even Spagnuolo conceded it was good to see Smith progress to the point where he was working with the starters. (The move of Smith to right tackle seems to be all but a done deal, since that's where he was practicing Tuesday.)

    "I think it's good for those guys to all be working together, making calls with each other," Spagnuolo said. "We all need the reps."

    Well, not all the guys were in there working together. Even though Smith was back with the starters, left guard Jacob Bell remains sidelined with a stomach muscle injury. Goldberg the Rams' Mr. Versatile had been working at right tackle all camp in place of Smith. On Tuesday, he was in at left guard for Bell.

    Which means offensive line continuity continues to elude the Rams. Entering camp, it looked like the preferred starting line was Saffold at left tackle, Bell at left guard, Brown at center, Goldberg at right guard, and Smith at right tackle.

    But that group has yet to take one snap together in camp. When asked how many reps he had taken at right guard in camp, Goldberg responded: "Zero."

    But Goldberg added, "When that day comes, we'll be ready. Coach Loney and I have been doing this together for a long time. I think he knows what's he's going to get from me, and I know what I'm going to get from him. And he'll get me there."

    Steve Loney, the Rams' offensive line coach, is in his third season with Goldberg in St. Louis. They also were together for two seasons (2004 and '05) with the Minnesota Vikings.

    "Goldie's a guy that I think has earned at least the opportunity to hang onto one position," Loney said at the start of camp, referring to the right guard position. "You know, sometimes being as versatile as you are, it's kind of a curse because everybody thinks of you in that light. But he is a guy that has performed very well for us."

    As for Smith, Loney felt he was playing the best football of his rookie season when he suffered a season-ending concussion Nov. 22 against Arizona. The concussion followed an early-season knee injury. And preceded the toe injury in June.

    Even with all the setbacks, Smith's teammates see potential and growth.

    "He's been growing by leaps and bounds," Brown said. "He has all the tools of course physically. But the things that other guys haven't learned, that he already has, is work ethic, responsibility, discipline. He has those things."

    Now if only Smith can stay on the field long enough to put those traits to use. It has been a bad run of injuries to say the least.

    "And weird ones, too," Goldberg said. "Stuff that's hard to diagnose and where it's hard to gauge time off. Head injuries are very unsettling for athletes because you don't know when you're going to pass that test for the doc and get back in.

    "Same thing with those small bones in your foot it's just a crazy waiting game. So I think he'll be ready. I think we'll be ready. I think we'll be rolling when the time comes."

    For Smith, that time probably won't come Saturday in the Rams' preseason opener against Minnesota. Spagnuolo indicated Tuesday that Smith isn't quite ready for game action and isn't expected to play against the Vikings.

    "I would say the percentages are low," Spagnuolo said. "That might be a little extreme. You don't want to push him out there and have him set back. But (trainer) Reggie (Scott) and Jason will kind of make that call."

    Smith is putting his trust in Scott, who has guided him through the rehab process.

    "Reggie came up with a plan of what we expect will probably happen, and so far he's been on top of it," Smith said. "The way this thing's feeling, it's exactly what he said it would be like."


  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Smith getting more reps with first team ..

    But even Spagnuolo conceded it was good to see Smith progress to the point where he was working with the starters. (The move of Smith to right tackle seems to be all but a done deal, since that's where he was practicing Tuesday.)
    I was just about to ask, if he's back with the first team at right tackle, how long before he gets some first team reps at left tackle? But if the combo of Saffold/Smith is able to effectively lock down our tackle positions for years to come, frankly I don't care which side they line up on. Obviously you'd prefer your big money guy on the more important side, but whatever works.


    Well, not all the guys were in there working together. Even though Smith was back with the starters, left guard Jacob Bell remains sidelined with a stomach muscle injury. Goldberg the Rams' Mr. Versatile had been working at right tackle all camp in place of Smith. On Tuesday, he was in at left guard for Bell.

    Which means offensive line continuity continues to elude the Rams. Entering camp, it looked like the preferred starting line was Saffold at left tackle, Bell at left guard, Brown at center, Goldberg at right guard, and Smith at right tackle.

    But that group has yet to take one snap together in camp. When asked how many reps he had taken at right guard in camp, Goldberg responded: "Zero."
    Does that make anyone else nervous?
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    Thumbs down Re: Rams' Smith getting more reps with first team ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Does that make anyone else nervous?
    Yes, I completely agree. A bit unsettling to say the least.

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    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams' Smith getting more reps with first team ..

    Quote Originally Posted by prof22693 View Post
    Yes, I completely agree. A bit unsettling to say the least.
    Agreed. And probably a factoid that is far more relevant evidence than the number of practice reps he's taken for those trying to figure out when Sam will start.

    I watched the second '09 Cards game recently & two other factoids came up in the commentary:

    The Rams had 25 UDFAs on their roster at that point last season.

    The AZ offensive line had played 30 games together with the same starting group.

    Depth and health.

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    Re: Rams' Smith getting more reps with first team ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Does that make anyone else nervous?
    I've been extremely nervous about our O-line ever since we let Alex go. No - I am not a big fan of Barron, but he was durable and better than a street free agent. It doesn't concern me which side of the line Jason and Roger play on, rather the fact that we have no one behind either player that we can count on to step in and not lose a beat should either guy sustain a serious injury.

    I don't know how many reps our "starting" O-line will get when we play the Vikes, but you can bet I'll be focused on our O-line play early on when we're going against the Vikings' defensive starters ..

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