ST. LOUIS, MO. (Shane Gray, Missouri Sports Magazine) – Day five of the 2012 St. Louis Rams training camp was graced by some much welcomed cloud cover, cooler temperatures and an occasional gentle breeze.
Today marked the first full squad padded session of camp and, likely without coincidence, the chatter was more prevalent among Rams players than at any time during the previous four days. It seems that much of the roster was excited to incorporate the shoulder pads and get involved in a bit more physical practice.


Top Performers

Lance Kendricks: Today was clearly the best day that Kendricks has had thus far. He looked like a potential go-to weapon in the passing game. His hands were sure in drills and in 11 on 11 work. He looked confident and did not let a ball hit the ground all day, to my knowledge. Running down the seam, Kendricks looked smooth and swift.
Sam Bradford: Watching Sam today, he continues to impress. Bradford was throwing lasers all over the field with accuracy and precision. In terms of mobility, the former Heisman Trophy winner looked exceptional, moving with a smooth, quick fluidity.
Chris Long: Long continues to display elite pass rush skills, getting into the backfield with regularity. With better corner play, better push from the interior defensive line and his own continued improvement, the sky is the limit for Long in regards to sacks, after posting a career high of 13 last season, his fourth consecutive year that his sack totals have ascended.
Isaiah Pead: Pead continued to look good both running and receiving the ball. His hands have been more than solid and the shiftiness one can see when viewing his collegiate highlights has been evident.
Steven Jackson: Jackson looked very spry and aggressive running today, and he too had some nice catches out of the backfield.


Tough Day

Kellen Clemens: Clemens was erratic today, throwing the ball all over the field, often too high for receivers to grab. At one point, he threw at least three consecutive throws that were considerably off target.


Mixed Bag

Steve Smith: Smith made some very nice plays and, most importantly, looks to be all the way back physically. That could be huge for this offense. On the other hand, he caught the ire of receivers coach Ray Sherman for making the same mistake consecutively.
Chris Givens: Givens continues to get open with frequency, however, he had at least one drop today, although the ball was behind him, and caught some heat from Sherman for a mistake made on a route.

Offensive Line Update

Offensive Line Run Blocking:The offensive line did a nice job opening up holes, particularly behind left tackle Rodger Saffold and when running right. They did, however, whiff on a couple of plays allowing defenders in the backfield just after the running back (once with Steven Jackson and once with Isaiah Pead), received the handoff.
Offensive Line Pass Protection: When running play action, the offensive line tended to struggle. Quinn really had a great time in these situations, flying past Rodger Saffold. One thing to note is this: this aggressiveness off the edge by defensive ends could be one reason why some of the running lanes opened up so often off tackle.


Fun Observations

-On one play during 11 on 11′s, quarterback Sam Bradford hit the deck. Playfully, defensive end Chris Long bent over as if to protect him before pretending to act as if he were going to pick him up. If you can envision someone bending down to pick up a baby in a cradle position, you have a fairly accurate portrayal of the scene in your mind.
-As Steven Jackson was nearing the finish of a run into the end zone, rookie corner Janoris Jenkins neared Jackson. Jackson, as if to welcome Jenkins to the physical side of the NFL during the first full squad padded practice, gave Jenkins a pretty nice slap to the facemask, enough to draw the reaction of several bystanders.
-Cornerback Cortland Finnegan is always competitive and expecting great play from himself. On one play in one on ones in a matchup against Austin Pettis, he gave up the catch and took his frustration out on a barrel on the sidelines, knocking it over on its’ side.
-The first real skirmish of the still young camp occurred today, as tackle Barry Richardson got a little hot under the collar and upset at an unidentified defender. Later in the action, fiery offensive guard Harvey Dahl, always ready to stand up for an offensive teammate, took exception to a second consecutive hit on Steven Jackson.


Drill Work


Tight Ends in Red Zone

-Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer worked with both groups. Schottenheimer was careful to repeatedly emphasize proper depth with both the tight end and wideouts.
-Rookie tight end Cory Harkey continues to show nice hands and athleticism. Fellow rookie tight end Jamie Childers showed nice hands, minus some of the athleticism shown by the aforementioned Harkey.

Wide Receivers

-Receivers worked on jump balls today as well as catching balls behind them in drill work.
-In one on ones, Brian Quick continues to get better at ensuring he is tucking the ball in and securing catches. Receiver coach Ray Sherman was heard saying “good job of tucking it he’s gonna try and punch it out.”

Offensive and Defensive Lines

-In some intense side drills, Robert Turner showed some strong pass protection on two consecutive drill plays where a defender tries to drive through or around them to theoretically get to the quarterback.
-Chris Long was consistently able to get by right tackle Jason Smith on a variety of moves.
-Defensive tackle Michael Brockers displayed some nice pocket push. That is what the Rams need from him to keep quarterbacks from stepping up and avoiding sacks this Fall.
-Defensive tackle Cornell Banks displayed a strong bull rush on multiple occasions.
-Free agent acquisiton Trevor Laws, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, displayed some very nice quickness.


Injuries/Inactives

-Danario Alexander got a step closer to returning this afternoon, doing some positional work with the other wide receivers. After that, however, he was shut down. Running back Daryl Richardson also got involved in some action but was limited.
-Cornerback Jerome Murphy was out today. Jeff Fisher did not seem overly concerned about Murphy’s absence, thus, Murphy is likely to return soon.
-Cornerback Josh Gordy was back in action today.
-Center Scott Wells remained out of action. Guard Rokevious Watkins took part in team drills for the first time today after spending the first four days of camp working on conditioning and some individual work inside.
-Safety Darian Stewart was out for a second straight day.