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Tony Palmer turns from draftee to signee
By Kathleen Nelson
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Thursday, Jul. 27 2006
The time for learning has morphed into the time for earning.
Rams guard Tony Palmer got the good news at 11 p.m. Monday from his agent,
Peter Schaffer, that Palmer had made the transition from draftee to signee. He
no longer was just a penniless college graduate and seventh-round round pick
from the University of Missouri, but a player with an NFL contract, one step
closer to his dream of playing pro football.
"I was a little nervous that it took so long, but my agent told me to relax and
that it definitely would get done in time to start camp," Palmer said. "Really,
signing doesn't change anything. I still have to make it to the 53-man roster."
Provided he makes the team, Palmer won't get his first regular paycheck until
September, like every other player in the league. He picked up the signing
bonus, though, when he put his name on the contract Tuesday. He declined to
discuss contract figures and called his signing bonus "just a few dollars" but
said he put half the bonus in his savings account and splurged with the rest,
putting it in his checking account.
"My parents have given me a lot of wisdom, and I learned a lot from Ray Ogas,"
Palmer said. Ogas, the Rams' director of player programs, offered seminars on
money management in Rams rookie school last month.
Palmer learned of the contract offer on the way from the home of his parents,
Richard and Adrianne Gaines, in Midwest City, Okla., to the team hotel near
Rams Park, the last leg of what passed for his summer vacation. He spent a few
days in Olympia, Wash., with his brother, Lance, who at 6-5 and 250 pounds is
preparing to play football in his senior year of high school. The pair sparred
in the boxing ring one day, then went through a cardio workout and
weightlifting the next.
"He was in for a shock," Palmer said of how he schooled his little brother. "It
was a great time."
From there, he traveled to Midwest City for workouts with his high school
wrestling coach, Mike Clark, and some home cooking, with a few modifications.
The team set a goal of 325 pounds for Palmer, and a few days of Adrianne's
specialties could have put the goal in danger.
"My mom was ready to feed me well, and I was tempted to dig in for about a
second," he said. "But I realize what's at stake. She started cooking the foods
I needed rather than what I wanted. She was real good about it."
Though Palmer spoke before the team's first official meeting and weigh-in
Wednesday afternoon, he had no doubt that he would make 325.
"I went over there early this morning and weighed myself, just to be sure," he
Weigh-ins and minicamps prove merely a prelude to training camp workouts, which
start today. Coach Scott Linehan plans to conduct practices in full pads more
often than did Rams camps of the past few years. Although veterans might dread
the notion, Palmer has no frame of reference for previous Rams' camps.
"I'm sure we'll have more workouts in pads than I had at Missouri, so I'll have
to adjust quickly," he said. "I think going through minicamps, you have an idea
how Coach Linehan wants the practice to run. We're definitely turning it up."
Palmer said he expected the biggest differences to be in physicality and
competitiveness. The same veterans who helped Palmer with the fine points of
footwork and blocking techniques last month will be fighting him for a roster
"We've got pads on, so we'll be hitting more. It definitely will be more
physical," he said. "I may have a few butterflies before the first practice,
but they always go away after the first hit. I always compete."
Though seventh-round draft picks, such as Rams guard Tony Palmer, don't
dominate Pro Bowl rosters, the team's late picks of recent years have had
staying power. Here's a look at their seventh-round picks of the past four
Year Name Pos. Where is he now
2002 Chris Massey Long snapper Locked in with the Rams.
2003 Scott Shanle LB Suspended for steroid use, then released in
December of his rookie year; now a backup in Dallas.
Richard Angulo TE Released in '04; picked up by Minnesota.
2004 Larry Turner OL Released in September '05, but re-signed in
Erik Jensen TE Placed on IR in '04, released in September '05; signed and
released by San Francisco; signed to Steelers' practice squad in December '05,
released May 4.
2005 Ryan Fitzpatrick QB Started three games in '05.
Madison Hedgecock FB Appeared in all 16 games, starting seven with the Rams.
Re: Tony Palmer turns from draftee to signeeI(Tony Palmer) still have to make it to the 53-man roster.