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Two-a-days are on tap for camp ..
BY JIM THOMAS
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Back in the spring, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo cautioned his players about being ready for a tough training camp. Just how tough? We're about to find out.
Spagnuolo's coaching staff returned to work Monday from their summer vacations, with a morning staff meeting.
"They're all fired up to go," Spagnuolo said. "The whole organization's excited. It's that time of year."
There were signs of that everywhere you looked Monday at Rams Park. Portable bleachers were being hauled in for the start of camp later this week. Finishing touches were done on the installation of a new AstroTurf surface on one of the three practice fields at the facility. (The other two fields remain grass surfaces.)
A camp appetizer takes place Thursday when rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans practice twice — at 8:15 a.m. and again at 2:15 p.m. Spagnuolo anticipates about two dozen players at those sessions.
But the real deal starts Friday, with the first full squad workout of camp at 3 p.m. As is the case with almost all of the camp practices, the Thursday and Friday practices are free and open to the public.
After a hectic offseason followed by a brief respite in late June and early July, Spagnuolo is about to embark on his rookie season as an NFL head coach.
"It's anxiety. It's excitement," Spagnuolo said. "There's a lot of unknowns. ... It'll be a process. But it's a fun one; it's an enjoyable one. We'll have some ups and downs, but you know that going in."
Obviously, Spagnuolo knows this team better than he did six months ago when he took the job. But there's only so much you can glean from spring practices in shorts and T-shirts.
"I do think there's going to have to be some live, physical play (during training camp) in order for us to assess the talent we have and make the right decisions," Spagnuolo said. "From a coaching standpoint, there's a lot we still don't know about our football team. There's a lot that the players don't know about the coaching staff."
During the spring, Spagnuolo and his staff were able to study players' work habits on the practice field. How studious they were in the meeting rooms. Or how dedicated they were in the weight room. It provided a gauge, Spagnuolo said, as to "who's a true pro, and who needs a little bit of work."
But as Spagnuolo added: "Let's face it. Football's (played) with pads. So that's the ultimate (test)."
Beginning with Friday's first full-squad practice, 11 of the Rams' 13 practice days leading into the Aug. 14 exhibition opener against the New York Jets are scheduled to be two-a-days. In today's NFL, two-a-days are becoming a thing of the past. Apparently, that memo hasn't reached Spagnuolo's office.
"I don't know what the other camps are like except for the two that I've been with," Spagnuolo said, referencing his stints with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. "This camp may be easier than some other teams."
The only reason Spagnuolo threw out that caution last spring about a tough camp was so the players would report in shape and be ready for anything. As for all those two-a-days, Spagnuolo said at some point in camp the second practice in a particular day would be altered — a hint that it may be a lighter workout or perhaps a special teams-only session.
"You're always concerned about injuries," Spagnuolo said. "You're always balancing that as a head coach — how much you hit, how much you go live. I know one thing: you get in-season, it's hard to have guys banging around (in practice) then. But to think that players are going to get ready with (just) four live preseason games, I don't know if you can do it that way."
Re: Two-a-days are on tap for camp ..
Anyone else going to the scrimmage on August 7th?
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