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    MFranke's Avatar
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    RamView camp report, August 3

    (Reports for July 28-29 on RamView website)

    RamView, August 3, 2007
    From Russell Training Center
    a/k/a Rams Park

    Come on in! The Rams awesomely invited everyone inside for Friday afternoon's practice. The indoor facility made for a great place to get out of the heat, but not always the best place to see everything, what with the large men in football uniforms standing in between you and some of the action. Getting up close to the action was a good tradeoff, though, so here's what I saw, from what I could see. Sorry it's getting out so late; like a rookie, I'm hitting the wall here in training camp…

    Position by position:
    * QB: My view of passing drills was obscured much of the time, but they seemed to move at a good tempo, and I didn't see any balls hit the ground. Moving to the two-minute drill and the 11-on-11, there were a couple of blown swing passes, one dropped by one of the teen-numbered receivers, another a misfire by Gus Frerotte intended for Dominique Byrd. Bulger led the offense to a couple of FG attempts in the 2-minute drill; Frerotte led the last drill to a three-and-out, with a mildly-disgusted Scott Linehan bringing the drill to an end. The passing game was set back a little today by receiver drops.

    * RB: Had a ringside seat for the RB group, including agility drills and pass protection drills. You don't notice it watching it at home, but up close, you can appreciate that Madison Hedgecock's a more nimble-footed guy than you or me. OK, me, anyway. The pass protection drills didn't really go well for the RBs. Steven Jackson got beat by Will Witherspoon right off the bat, and it was a losing battle for the RBs the rest of the way, though Hedgecock held up well. J.D. Washington really struggled with this drill until finally maintaining his ground on the very last rep. There wasn't anybody the LBs couldn't either overpower or beat with a move. It's a big weakness for the team right now, because defenses are going to blitz. As things stand, I'd rather have a TE in the backfield with Bulger on obvious passing downs than any of the RBs. The backs as a group get today's thumbs-down.

    * Receivers: Dominique Thompson would probably just as soon have me not show up to any more practices, because every time I look at the guy, he drops a catchable pass. Did it again today during 11-on-11. He wasn't alone – Dane Looker had an egregiously bad drop and Markee White dropped a catchable ball on the far sideline. Torry Holt made a juggling catch at the back of the end zone for a red zone TD. The tight ends also participated in the pass protect drills I mentioned above, with Randy McMichael and Aaron Walker doing very solid jobs. Joe Klopfenstein was in street clothes and had an ice pack taped to his leg.

    * Offensive line: Both lines had their initial drills outside, which seemed kind of mean, and returned inside for the light stuff. At least in pass rush drills, the offensive line beat the defensive line again today. Alex Barron looked great against Leonard Little, just swallowing the Pro Bowler up. Alex was with the twos and Adam Goldberg with the ones for the first two 2-minute drills; I believe Alex was on a bathroom break. Despite that detour, Alex is getting my thumbs-up award for today; I've been impressed with him all three days I've been to camp. Romberg and Ryan are having some hellacious battles. Ryan scored first today by driving Romberg back six yards right off the snap, to the applause of the d-line coach. Second rep, Romberg drilled Ryan flat into the ground. Turfed him. Romberg and Andy McCollum still seem to be splitting time at center pretty evenly. Dustin Fry and Jeremy Parquet also did well in drills. Claude Terrell was a surprise on the up side, but James Hall got the better of Orlando Pace, to the point that Pace was taking tips from o-line coach Boudreau afterward. That was odd to see, but it goes to show you that the coaches coach everybody.

    * Defensive line/LB: James Hall was impressive against Orlando Pace in pass rush drills but just missed today's thumbs-up award by jumping offsides during 11-on-11. Adam Carriker, though, didn't get much done against either McCollum or Claude Terrell; Terrell handled him almost with ease. Adam jumped offside during one of these drills; so did Claude Wroten. Victor Adeyanju did a credible job against Adam Goldberg. The coaches are working very hard on refining his pass rush moves, and he seems to be getting it, today, at least. Will Witherspoon was unstoppable in pass rush against the RBs. Quinton Culberson looked good in these drills, too, as he continues to push for a roster spot. New LB Larry Edwards is a wild man, nearly flying into the crowd a couple of times. Luckily, I had blockers in the form of a trash can and a giant Nerf ball. Most of my front seven info today has to come from the drills because I didn't have the greatest look at them when they went up against the offense, and a lot of that appeared to be half-speed anyway.

    * Secondary: Tye Hill continues to impress me. He'll get beat, but most of the time he is right there in coverage and getting beat by a near-perfect throw. And he seems to have that poor short-term memory about getting beat that DBs need. He made a fine play during the 2-minute drill to keep Drew Bennett in bounds and the clock running. Corey Chavous filled against the run nicely at the start of 11-on-11. Darius Vinnett is playing with the twos, along with Walls and Wade. I've got to call their work good, because on one play in 11-on-11, Frerotte couldn't find anybody, bailed out of the pocket and threw the ball away out of bounds. You hardly ever see that in practices. Wade has been playing nickel with the ones, so I'll assume he played there today. I'm still not seeing any picks, however.

    * Special teams: Kevin Lovell (a lefty, btw) attempted FGs at the end of two of the 2-minute drills, probably from the 40-45 yard range, barely missing the first but drilling the second right down the middle. Teams practice focused on blocking the punt. Again, if they screw up something this year, it's not because they didn't practice it.

    * Coaching/discipline: I don't usually get to observe coach Linehan very closely during a practice. He spent all day with the offense from what I saw and hung out with Bulger during one of those breaks for the QBs where all they do is play a lazy game of catch to stay loose. He was right there to see the RBs attempt to pass protect, so he has to know there's more work needed there. The Rams have an interesting mix of coaches. D-line coach Baker is an intense, in-your-face type (though he seemed to be dialed way back today), while RB coach Moses seems very low-key and soft-spoken; I could barely hear him though I was a short distance away. Interesting to see the different styles working together on the same staff.

    * Cheers: Practice was held inside since the temperature was in the upper nineties, and the fans got to come inside in part because we all fit. Maybe 200 showed today, enough to line one sideline of the shortened indoor field and an end zone. Very cool of the Rams to let us come in, when they could easily have used the weather as an excuse to send everyone home. It's the first time they've done that for the general public. They're making an effort, if the city would pay attention. The crowd was quite well-behaved, setting a good example should the Rams decide to try it again someday. Wide receivers autographed afterwards. Saw a couple of TV crews and a couple of radio stations represented. There was also a NFL officiating crew present, headed by Walt Anderson; I assume they're doing the scrimmage Saturday morning. They didn't contribute much (just like real games!) until the 2-minute and red zone drills, and got a tough call right on Holt's red zone TD catch.

    * Who’s next?: The Rams get to take their frustrations out on guys in different uniforms next Friday in Minnesota, and we'll all get to find out how some of these guys play in a full-uniform, full-contact environment. Minnesota's a good test for both Ram lines. They had the #1 run defense last year, and were on their way to setting a single-season record for run defense until running into… the Rams and Steven Jackson the last week of the season. The Ram offensive line will hope to recreate at least some of that success. It'd be a bad omen if the Vikings are able to get to the Ram QBs; they were a poor pass-rushing team last year. So we should get some idea right away how far along the offensive line is. The Vikings struggled mightily on pass defense last season, so WR candidates like Thompson, Hagans and Stanley should have plenty of opportunities to make their marks. The lower-string WR position battle should be the main one to watch, along with the competition at center, if that plays out well on TV.
    The Rams and the rest of the NFL will get their first look at Adrian Peterson as a pro, with Chester Taylor out due to injury. The Viking running game behind Taylor was very effective last year, at least until the latter stages of the season. That was also the time of the season they put rookie QB Tarvaris Jackson's feet to the fire. Though he had a good '06 preseason, Jackson suffered in the face of opposing blitz packages, and reportedly is still struggling in this year's training camp. So, short of starting Brooks Bollinger, which may happen, the Vikings have to focus on running well and taking the pressure off of Jackson. If the Rams can account well for themselves against Minnesota's very big, very talented offensive line, with Peterson and his scary combination of size and speed behind it, they'll be making a statement right out of the gate. It'll be a bad omen if the Ram secondary struggles against the Vikings, with their QBs lacking game experience and throwing to one of the lesser receiving corps in the league. The line's performance will be the main thing to watch on defense.
    It's all about the defensive line, after all. They were a main culprit in last year's defensive fiasco but have been almost completely remodeled in the offseason. It would be good to see positive early returns from the d-line Friday night to know the Rams are on track and moving away from last season's dismal performance. It would be good to get off to a hot start the way the Rams did last preseason. But if not, there's still three weeks. Barring some kind of total disaster, the Rams should come out of this game in good shape.

    -- Mike


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    UtterBlitz's Avatar
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    Re: RamView camp report, August 3

    It's great to hear from you again Mike. Thanks for the write up.

    I really liked these observations:

    " Alex Barron looked great against Leonard Little, just swallowing the Pro Bowler up. "
    " Will Witherspoon was unstoppable in pass rush against the RBs."
    " Torry Holt made a juggling catch at the back of the end zone for a red zone TD."
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Re: RamView camp report, August 3

    Ha ha, linemen had their workouts outside in the extreme heat. It's like that on all levels, we got thrown out as well.
    Toughest bunch of the group.
    Thank you for posting the article!
    Can't wait for our first preseason game! Won't see it live on TV, but I plan on hangin out around here and getting some of you guys observations. NFL Network is suppose to show it sometime anyway, I think they will show ALL the preseason games.

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    Re: RamView camp report, August 3

    Have you got some news about Brian Leonard during the pass protection drills ?
    Si vous croyez en vous, que vous avez de la fierté, et que vous ne lâchez jamais, vous serez un gagnant.
    Le prix de la victoire est chère, mais la récompense en vaut la peine.

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    Re: RamView camp report, August 3

    Excellent write-up. Thanks, Mike.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    MFranke's Avatar
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    Re: RamView camp report, August 3

    Thank you, guys...

    TorryHolt, I'm sorry my memory isn't good enough to answer your question
    on Brian Leonard. I think he was ok. My lasting impression is the LBs would
    have been applying good pressure almost every time. The smaller backs like
    Washington and Minor are the ones I recall having the most trouble. I'll try
    to keep an eye on this for the Minnesota game.

    (10 am EST Aug 11, NFL Network)

    --Mike

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