Rookies look back at dealing with camp
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Saturday, Aug. 21 2004

Camping out was a new experience for rookie Steven Jackson, the Rams' top draft
choice; his Oregon State team held preseason workouts on campus. So, how did
Jackson like his first trip to Macomb, Ill.?

"It's good to get home," Jackson said emphatically Friday, the day after the
team broke camp at Western Illinois University. Jackson said the first thing he
did after returning to St. Louis was "lie down on my bed and get a good night's
rest."

The Rams spent 3 1/2 weeks in Macomb, interrupted only by a one-day trip back
on Aug. 12 to play Chicago in a preseason game at the Edward Jones Dome.
Otherwise, they were exiled in McDonough County.

The veterans were well-versed in training camp. The rookies, though, needed
some indoctrination. "You really don't know what to expect coming in," said
safety Jason Shivers, a fifth-round draft pick from Arizona State. "It was a
little long, and I didn't want to make it any worse just by thinking about it.
So I just told myself, 'We're going to take it day by day.'"

Jackson said the "days kind of ran together. At times, you didn't know what day
of the week it was or what time it was. You just knew that you had to do
football."

One of the major adjustments, Shivers said, was returning to a dormitory
setting, with community showers, bathrooms and tiny rooms with lumpy
mattresses. "That sort of took me back to college, being in that little square
box," he said. "But we're really not in there that long, with meetings and
practice and your daily regimen. It was just a sleeping quarter."

Jackson said the experience helped him understand why coaches take their team
out of town to prepare for the regular season. "I can really see the meaning of
a camp," he said. "A lot of coaches believe camp is for guys getting together
and bonding, and that's where you form the team. It's something that you just
have to experience for yourself."

The Rams will hold evening practices tonight and Sunday in preparation for
their Monday night preseason game in Kansas City.
McCollum returns to center

After a one-year stint at left guard, veteran Andy McCollum is back at center,
where he started 48 consecutive regular-season games for the Rams from 2000
through 2002. Dave Wohlabaugh, the team's center last season, was waived this
week because of a lingering hip problem.

McCollum, who has said he doesn't prefer one position over the other,
emphasized that the circumstances under which he returned to center were less
than ideal. "That's just how it worked out; it's pretty strange," McCollum
said. "It was unfortunate with that injury that Dave had. It's sad to see him
go. I consider him my friend."

Although the offensive line has been thinned out significantly by of injuries,
McCollum is optimistic that the group will come together by the time the season
opens Sept. 12.

"We've got some guys stepping up, these young guys who are learning the
system," he said. "You can see how well they did last week against Chicago.
Scotty (Tercero), Andy (King) and all those young guys are doing a pretty good
job. So, don't count those guys out, because they can play. ... If we need them
to play for the whole season, I'm sure they'll do a great job."