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    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Rams Sticking To Business

    Rams sticking to business

    13 hours ago • BY JIM THOMAS

    With the demise of two-a-days and the limitations on padded practices, the line has blurred between training camp, minicamps and those "OTAs" in the spring.

    Not to mention the fact that more and more teams are training at their home facility. In a sense, it barely seems like training camp any more.

    "When I first started in this thing, you'd go for six weeks and basically the first two weeks the players were coming in to get into condition," said Rams assistant head coach Dave McGinnis, who has been through 27 NFL training camps.

    "We'd have 120 guys in camp. It's an entirely different world. The league has evolved a lot with offseason training, with the type of condition that these players are in, and clearly now with the new CBA, there's new regulations.

    "The first camp I went to was in Platteville, Wis. (in 1986) and it was two-a-days, every day, full pads, on your mark, get set, go. And so it's changed."

    About the only thing that changed for Rams players Wednesday when the team "broke camp," is that those who had places to stay moved out of the team hotel. Coach Jeff Fisher allowed many of the veterans to do so a week ago.

    And when they showed up to practice Thursday, there was no portable fencing around the sidelines of the playing fields, no portable bleachers and no fans. It was much quieter.

    "We're still following the same routines, so on and so forth," Fisher said. "Next week, however, we won't keep them as long. We probably don't have as many night meetings, but we've got a short week. So when you say you 'break camp,' it's different than piling your stuff in your car and driving four hours back to your facility."

    One of the time-honored traditions of training camp is the rookie show, which for the Rams in years gone by at Western Illinois University featured a night at the Purple Pride nightclub. Entertainment came in the form of, uh, artistic dancers shipped in from Peoria.

    Fisher didn't have a rookie show, and as he has mentioned before, Fisher isn't into the whole rookie hazing thing.

    "I don't believe in that," he said. "I believe that we brought the rookies here to help us win, and this is a business. It makes no sense having rookies not wanting to go to a meal because they've got to stand up on a table and sing their fight song. So we don't do that. We don't haze, per se."

    About as far as it got at Rams Park were rookies carrying helmets or shoulder pads of veterans off the field at the end of practice. Or a rookie might be sent to the Motomart across the street from Rams Park to pick up snacks for the veterans in his position group.

    "Skittles, Starburst, Jolly Ranchers, chocolate," rookie safety Rodney McLeod said. "They're big on seeds, too. Quintin (Mikell)'s big on Dill pickle (sunflower) seeds, so we try to get him a couple packs of those."

    McLeod said Fisher has "helped us out a lot on that" when it comes to preventing rookie hazing.

    "The veterans haven't gotten to us too much," McLeod said. "A couple pranks here and there. They're all good guys, they're all cool, especially in the defensive back room."

    One day last week, rookie wide receiver Chris Givens saw his helmet and shoulder pads hanging from a goal post. Earlier in camp, one prank wasn't rookie related: veteran linebacker James Laurinaitis opened his vehicle to find lots of crickets as well as hundreds (thousands?) of those styrofoam packing "peanuts."

    In his 17th season as an NFL head coach, Fisher said only one of his teams ever trained away from its home complex. He believes teams can bond even without going away, or without rookie shows or extensive hazing.

    In terms of team bonding, Fisher said, "You can get accomplished those type of things inside. You get a lot of it done outside, too. But we spend a lot of time in the meeting rooms and (there's) a lot of different things you can do."

    Although details are sketchy, one of those "different things" took place Thursday before practice. A trophy about as big as hockey's Stanley Cup — maybe taller — was hauled into the team auditorium. Who knows what went on in there behind closed doors, but a lot of laughter, hooting and hollering could be heard.

    The trophy, said a suddenly tight-lipped Fisher, "didn't have anything to do with just the rookies, no. It may have had something to do with a team function, yes. You're not going to get anymore out of me and you won't get anything out of them either."

    In terms of actual football, Fisher was pleased with what transpired in camp. The players have not only assimilated the playbook, they've learned how he runs things, his football philosophy in general, and how he likes to practice.

    "I think we've adjusted to that pretty well," running back Steven Jackson said.

    All things considered, the roster is in good shape health-wise at this point, although Fisher undoubtedly wishes some of the wide receivers and defensive backs had fresher legs as the season opener in Detroit creeps ever closer.

    As veteran guard Harvey Dahl put it, "Two more practice games and we're playing the real thing."


  2. #2
    mde8352gorams's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Sticking To Business

    Sounds encouraging that the focus is on football and building a team, not distinguishing between veterans and rookies. At the end of the day the guys have perform in sync and be able to lean on each other. It appears to me that is exactly what Jeff Fisher has been trying to cultivate. I now fully comprehend why Fisher is liked by his players and will likely have far more success than Steve Spagnuolo. We can rely on Les Snead to provide Jeff with the players he needs and will win with. I am confident that we will compete, not always win, but compete. Is it Sept. 9th yet?

    Go Rams!

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