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RamView, July 30, 2005 - By Mike Franke
RamView, July 30, 2005
By Mike Franke
Caveat emptor: I've been to several of these and you'd think I'd know what I'm looking at by now, but there's a lot going on and it is very easy to miss things. I'm reporting on a combination of what I saw during offensive drills, 9-on-7 passing drills and the 11-on-11 scrimmage from Saturday morning's practice.
Position by position:
* QB: Marc Bulger looks right on, throwing very accurately, squeezing pinpoint passes in between defenders. I didn't get to see a lot of his long ball. I did get to see a lot of Jamie Martin's, which have hang time. Martin also foundered badly against practice blitzes and had a few bad-looking throwaways. He looks a lot more comfortable throwing short passes than anything over, say, five yards. In my opinion he's no lock for the team if the young guys "step up." Except. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't impress me much until he dropped a nice long pass into Brandon Middleton's hands on his last play. And I didn't see Jeff Smoker much in the scrimmages at all. Don't know what's up with that. He served mostly as the QB (target) in pass-rush drills.
* RB: Stephen Jackson and Adam Archuleta got in the first "fight" of training camp. Jackson, wearing one of the gold "don't touch me" jerseys, gave Arch some kind of forearm shiver, and exceptions were exchanged. Stephen showed his usual ability to weave through traffic, though I'd contend the running game would not have been very successful in a full-contact scenario. Marshall Faulk got some work, but not much heavy lifting. Aveion Cason would have taken a long pass all the way on a play where the defense blew the coverage, and showed nice quickness. In my opinion, he'd be the #3 ahead of Arlen Harris, but Harris didn't look too bad out there himself. Madison Hedgecock dropped the only pass I saw thrown to him, but makes up for that by being a big ol' boy who likes to hit. He probably did the best hitting out there.
* Receivers: Brandon Middleton had the two most visible plays, snagging a couple of deep balls. Dane Looker had a long catch against broken coverage. Kevin Curtis dived to haul in a long Martin floater along the far sideline, even though he was well-covered. Kid has hands of glue. Dante Ridgeway ripped away a DB's attempt to pick off a bad hot pass and probably would have had a long gainer. Shaun McDonald had a brutal drop of an open long ball. I believe Michael Coleman also had a drop.
* Offensive line: Maybe Orlando Pace really doesn't need training camp. It doesn't look like he needs it, anyway. Pace mainly toyed with Anthony Hargrove and got an ovation from the crowd (how cool is that?) after one last futile attempt by Hargrove to beat him during one-on-one drills. Right tackle doesn't look nearly as sure. Alex Barron isn’t in camp. Blaine Saipaia looks like the best of the pack; he flattened D-Lew in one drill, though Little smoked him badly on the 2nd play of scrimmage. Darnell Alford got tried some at RT but didn't fare well; Mike Martz yanked him in the middle of a scrimmage in favor of Grant Williams. And proving there's a first time for everything, I saw Grant actually block some guys. That's a surprise. He also got smoked by both Leonard Little and Hargrove. That's not a surprise.
* Defensive line/LB: Leonard Little looked super. When he wasn't smoking slower RTs on passing downs, he was flashing into the backfield on run plays that would have been losses. Another lineman I will agree looks very good is Jimmy Kennedy. He completely owned Rex Tucker, repeatedly plowing him backwards into the pocket. Tucker couldn't do a thing with him. That either means good things for the Ram defensive line or bad things for the offensive line. Kennedy batted down a Bulger pass in 11-on-11. Tyoka Jackson also looked good, still showing some speed and steaming around Alford and Saipaia at times. Good work from Ryan Pickett and Brian Howard as well. Though all accounts say he's looked really good so far, I didn't see anything good out of D-Lew. He got driven to the ground more than once and Bill Kollar ripped on him for being out-of-shape, probably a joke more than anything. But Kennedy is certainly worthier of the starting job alongside Pickett at this point. Hargrove struggled all day; he couldn't do a thing against Pace and jumped offsides a couple of times. Sorry for a lack of LB observations, but I will say that Dexter Coakley looks downright tiny out there. He's dwarfed by some of the DBs. Trev Faulk made a lot of plays when it was 2nd-string vs. 2nd-string.
* Secondary: Jerametrius Butler was not on the field; Howard Balzer reported on radio that he's out a week with a bruised knee. His starting spot appeared to be filled by Dwight Anderson (!), who nicely broke up a long pass. Ron Bartell saw some time in that spot as well, opposite Torry Holt, and didn't embarrass himself. Adam Archuleta had the one interception of practice, a long Bulger pass into tight double coverage that you hope Bulger won't throw in the real season, but probably will. Holt was the intended receiver, and Archuleta did a picture-perfect job of supporting the DB and making the pick, the way an elite safety should. The secondary dropped two other likely interceptions, though, and, dammit, DBs, CATCH THE BALL. Mike Furrey and Michael Stone made nice run stops. Furrey really needs to get out of #25, though, to make me quit thinking of Rich Coady. Jerome Carter was the starting safety opposite Archuleta. There are a lot of assignment issues right now; many more blown coverages than you ever want to see in a practice. No doubt this is a factor of so many guys playing safety in the NFL or for the Rams for the first time. Actually, that's every safety on the team except Archuleta. Plenty of time to work things out, though.
* Special teams: It didn't look like there was a lot more special teams practice to me, though I may have missed a bunch tracking the offense drills. They practiced tracking down punts. Some interesting guys worked out on teams, including Travis Fisher and Kevin Curtis. No telling from this practice who the kick returners will be. I wasn't impressed at all with new punter Reggie Hodges, not that that should surprise anybody. Didn't look consistent at all. They also practiced last-second FGs, and I think Wilkins and Hamilton hit all those attempts. They followed that with a bunch of fake FG plays. Amusing though it may be to see Dane Looker line up behind center with Wilkins split left, I'd prefer the Rams worry about being able to walk and chew gum at the same time on special teams before skipping to Advanced Theory.
* Coaching/discipline: Besides the fake FG formations, the only other thing that looked like a wrinkle to me was a play that shifted Holt into the backfield as the lone back. He took a screen pass from out of that formation that didn't go much of anywhere. The defense probably blitzed more in this practice than Larry Marmie did in any game last year. Many of them got through, including one play where Martin got swamped by three guys. Stephen Jackson picked up blitzers nicely when he was in, though.
* Don't be confused!: That's not D'Marco Farr (75) – it's Claude Terrell. #41's not Todd Lyght, it's O.J. Atogwe. Roland Williams didn't get his #86 back – that's still Manu. Roland's #88 now. #35 isn't Aeneas Williams (sigh), it's Corey Ivy. #25 isn't Rich Coady, thank God, that's Mike Furrey's new number. (But he should still change it.) And the much-smaller #52 isn't Mike Jones, it’s Dexter Coakley. Quiz tomorrow!
* Cheers: Attendance was not as high as I thought it would be - I'm estimating 1250-1500. That was fine, though; we weren't all packed in there like sardines. My first advice if you're planning to attend is to have sunscreen on; there isn't a lot of shade out there. It's easy to get to the parking/vacant lot, and the Rams staff got people parked in very organized fashion. Surprisingly, it wasn't hard to get out, either, though your car will get dusty. For the best seats, you probably want to be there at least an hour early. Practice started early according to my camera clock and went the full two hours. Know going in that if you're sensitive to hearing bad language, or your kid hearing it, training camp might not be the place you want to be. I'm not criticizing the players and coaches who drop "f-bombs" – I've probably dropped them during Thanksgiving dinner – just know there will be some. It's part of the game.
Where to sit? The best view for 11-on-11 and 9-on-7 was from the hill next to the fields. The DB and LB drills and team calisthenics were also there. Offensive drills were best seen from the far bleachers behind the end zone of the far field. You can also see the defensive linemen drill against each other to the far right from there; great fun. One question would be if the team rotates where the drills take place to keep from wearing out the field. The first hour-plus was devoted to unit drills, with most of the last hour going to offense vs. defense. There wasn't much problem moving between the two fields and still getting a good view. You're allowed to bring lawn chairs, and there were vendors for water, soda and Rams apparel.
A lot of players proved willing to sign autographs. The best place to be was on the rail at the bottom of the hill. All the linebackers signed, including Pisa, Coakley, Claiborne and Thomas; Jimmy Kennedy and Tyoka Jackson signed a lot; so did Kevin Curtis (who looks like Eminem) and Dane Looker, who probably did the most signing of anybody. The whole offensive line came over last. Orlando Pace seemed a very friendly and willing autograph signer. Torry Holt and Stephen Jackson popped out of the locker room for a few quick signings. Faulk's name was called out the most by the kids. I didn't see him sign anything, though people there said he's signed for them before. Didn't see Bulger or Bruce sign, either. (Doesn't mean they didn't.) And several players I'm sorry I don't recognize were out signing as well. I would call the Rams very autograph-friendly on the whole.
* What’s next?: I'm hoping to make and report on the August 7th scrimmage at Wash. U. Would be nice to see Alex Barron there by then, or more convincing run-blocking from the guys who are there. And if our QBs do throw the occasional bad pass, I'd like to see our darn defensive backs CATCH THEM.
-07-30-2005 #2Registered User
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Re: RamView, July 30, 2005 - By Mike Franke
Great info. I will be attending sunday, and will use your tips. I would be happy to report what i see as well. Im not sure i can be quite the scout you are, but i will do my best.
Re: RamView, July 30, 2005 - By Mike FrankeAmusing though it may be to see Dane Looker line up behind center with Wilkins split left, I'd prefer the Rams worry about being able to walk and chew gum at the same time on special teams before skipping to Advanced Theory.
Know going in that if you're sensitive to hearing bad language, or your kid hearing it, training camp might not be the place you want to be. I'm not criticizing the players and coaches who drop "f-bombs" – I've probably dropped them during Thanksgiving dinner – just know there will be some. It's part of the game.
"The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it." George Washington
Last edited by Chiledog; -07-30-2005 at 09:11 PM."Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie', until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
Re: RamView, July 30, 2005 - By Mike Franke
Yes, great info and would willingly trade my family vacation week( just came back from that) to sit in the blairing sun, for days on end to see them practice. Scratch that... days & days on end. You people that are in St. Lou are the lucky ones, and are the envy of those of us that live too far way for a birds eye view of training camp.
Thanks again !!!!
Maineram -and out of the ashes rise ...The Breakfast Club !
Re: RamView, July 30, 2005 - By Mike Franke
I agree with Maineram - Its 1830 miles to St. Louis from LA according to Mapquest...
Ouch =( I might even do it if I didn't have a job this summer.
Re: RamView, July 30, 2005 - By Mike FrankeI disagree here. Bad language is not part of the game. When kids and families are around, the players and coaches should have the character and self-control to refrain from swearing. Where are the role models? --Chiledog
Re: RamView, July 30, 2005 - By Mike FrankeStephen Jackson and Adam Archuleta got in the first "fight" of training camp. Jackson, wearing one of the gold "don't touch me" jerseys, gave Arch some kind of forearm shiver, and exceptions were exchanged. Stephen