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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams Turn Toward Minicamp, Draft

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    With April and the NFL Draft closing fast, the Rams are turning their attention away from free agency and the events of March and toward the annual selection process.

    But before getting in to all of that, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and his coaching staff is about to get its first look at the players already on the roster on a real, actual football field.

    That has been a long time coming for Spagnuolo, who after he was hired on Jan. 17. The Rams are less than a week away from the first of three minicamps with Spagnuolo at the helm.

    The first opportunity comes Thursday when the team opens a three day minicamp that will involve all of the players currently on the roster.

    Although it won’t be the best way to determine what he has, it will give Spagnuolo and staff the opportunity to see players up close in a semi-competitive environment.

    “I still think and I truly believe this – to me I really kind of hold any kind of judgment until you can actually get on the field and work with them,” Spagnuolo said at last month’s scouting combine. “That’s the true tell. I will take it even further, even though we are about to go through the mini camps and the OTAs, you can learn a certain amount of things in those practices but let’s remember the game is played with pads on and it’s a violent game so you can’t really make those decisions until then. This is a long process and we just take it step by step and draw our conclusions at the end of it.”

    The first step in building the team – or as Spagnuolo likes to call it “laying the foundation” began about two weeks ago when the team kicked off its offseason conditioning program.

    Attendance at those sessions has been almost perfect with the lone exceptions of running back Steven Jackson (who was excused the first few days for the birth of his child) and receiver Derek Stanley (who is still recovering from a serious knee injury). Jackson returned last week and participated in every workouts since.

    The Rams have been hard at work in the weight room and conditioning for most of the past two weeks before wrapping it up for a little bit yesterday. The team is off until they are required to return to town for the minicamp next Wednesday.

    With a new staff in place, players got a crash course in the new way of doing things under Spagnuolo, including a more free-weight, core body emphasis in the weight room courtesy of new strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson.

    “The first couple of days you could see a change in his approach,” cornerback Ron Bartell said. “Overall, I think guys are just really excited. You can’t get overly excited yet because the season’s so far away, but guys really have something to look forward to this year. Guys have different reasons and there are certain things they want to get done and I think Rock is a great addition. He’s something new, a different approach and we’ll see if it works.”

    The past two weeks hasn’t been limited to just working out for the players, though. They have spent plenty of time getting acquainted with the schemes and ideas of Spagnuolo and the coordinators and trying to learn the terminology that accompanies those schemes.

    And, of course, with so many changes, there has been plenty of time for getting to know the many new faces populating the Russell Training Center weight room and meeting rooms.

    “There are a lot of faces that I didn’t recognize, but that happens in March because your roster expands by 30 guys or so,” quarterback Marc Bulger said last week. “(There have been) a lot of introductions in the last couple days. We’re excited, but you lose guys and that’s a part of the business and it’s unfortunate, but we’re excited with the new guys we have too.”

    While the players are preparing for their first run at organized practices under Spagnuolo, the coach, general manager Billy Devaney and Co. are prepping for those workouts with an eye toward the April 25-26 NFL Draft.

    Not all of the team’s work in free agency is done and there is a possibility it will add another piece or two for depth but there won’t be any more moves of major consequence before the draft.

    In fact, the team is beginning to narrow the field and get a closer look at potential draft picks. Each NFL team is allowed to bring in 30 prospects for visits to get to know the players better.

    The Rams are in the process of setting up those visits, something that will likely be spread out over a couple of days.

    Before worrying about who might be added to the roster, though, Spagnuolo and Co. will get their first look at the players already on it.

    “There’s no question it’s tough (to evaluate),” Spagnuolo said. “I will rely on expertise and Billy Devaney has been there for a year which is very helpful so I am going to rely on his expertise and the other scouts that have been around and have been in the building. I’ll listen to them along with the other coaches that are looking at film. You put it all together and come up with it.”

  2. #2
    Chris58's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Turn Toward Minicamp, Draft

    I've maintained that the difference between good NFL teams and not-so-good ones has more to do with attitude than ability. There have been lots of posts during the off-season about how many needs we have to fill via the draft or FA in order to be successful next season. While good players are a necessity, I think we have been overlooking the power of the human mind to affect performance. Our history is littered with impressive examples of unimaginable achievements from the beginning of our Union to the present day. So though it is easy to be guarded with our optimism based upon the last three years just remember that, "prior performance does not guarantee future results." Translated: 2009 is anyone's guess, but if every player and person associated with Rams football truly believes they can be a great TEAM, there is no doubt in my mind that next season will be one to remember.

    GO RAMS!

  3. #3
    A-Web's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Turn Toward Minicamp, Draft

    "Not all of the team’s work in free agency is done and there is a possibility it will add another piece or two for depth but there won’t be any more moves of major consequence before the draft."

    I like this line. It seems to me there are a decent number of things involving the "depth" and starting lineup for the team that many people either aren't researching into, or they are just not aware of. But the rams have added players to the lineup that aren't getting ANY media attention via Free Agency. Something to note is the fact that the Rams have acquired a left OT already, and he is only 26 years old. I don't think Spags has a bad talent radar, so if it pans out, that could be it for structuring the offensive line, aside from a TE.

    Altogether though, I think we will see more focus put on the defense, and lots of effort in the weightroom and playbook studying. The mindset is surely in the right place for now, but it will take alot of work and focus to maintain that level.

  4. #4
    mde8352gorams's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Turn Toward Minicamp, Draft

    Chris, you make an excellent point. Attitude is huge and the fact that the players are positive and the excitement is there are great indicators of future success. The challenge remains to translate that to the field and a few early solid wins will begin that process.

    Go Rams!

  5. #5
    RamsFan16 Guest

    Re: Rams Turn Toward Minicamp, Draft

    Thanks for the article, I'm very excited for the first Mini camp, I know it's "non contact" but I'm excited to see if there is a different intensity within' the players and coaches.

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams Turn Toward Minicamp, Draft

    It's funny that Bulger doesn't recognize alot of the new faces, hopefully he gets aquainted with his receivers and developes a postive working relationship with them.
    Coach Steve Spagnuolo first order of business will be to get the Rams offensive battery set. Starting with Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson, a new mission with purpose (a winning attitude) must be brought forth. Here's to the Saint Louis Rams having a good mini-camp and a successful Draft.

  7. #7
    Mooselini Guest

    Re: Rams Turn Toward Minicamp, Draft

    We need a successful draft this year. If we can manage that, I say we nailed this offseason.

    Anything before last season, I don't like the drafts. Last year's draft was great, and this year I only hope for the same results.

    I'm so excited for the Preseason right now. I want to see all of our players, which include the new rooks, playing. I want to see if everyone on the squad has attittude.

    I'm excited guys.

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