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  • Inside Slant

    Inside Slant---FROM THE USA TODAY

    Things are different for Dane Looker as training camp approaches.

    Once hailed as "Little Ricky" because of his style of play is similar to former Rams receiver Ricky Proehl, Looker accepts the compliments, but wants to be his own man.

    That was tough for a while, as he struggled to make an NFL roster. He was an undrafted free agent in the Rams' 2000 training camp, and was opening some eyes when he was surprisingly traded to the Patriots on Aug. 7 that year.

    He made New England's roster, but ended the season on injured reserve and was then released on July 31 because of a hamstring injury. Looker was right back with the Rams for three weeks, but he wasn't healthy enough to make an impact. Out of football for the rest of the year, he re-signed with the Rams in February and excelled in NFL Europe, but the numbers game caught up to him again.

    Released on Sept. 2, he spent most of the season on the practice squad until being added to the active roster for the final three games of the season.

    Last year turned out to be his coming-out party. Making the roster also resulted in him being the holder for kicker Jeff Wilkins. Wilkins wanted him all along after the departure of, you guessed it, Proehl, but there was no guarantee Looker would make the roster.

    He helped Wilkins tie a league record with 39 field goals and offensively was third on the team with 47 receptions for 495 yards and three touchdowns. More important, 27 of his catches, including 18 on third down, were first-down plays.

    Despite his success, Looker takes nothing for granted.

    "We've got some good receivers on this team, so I'm going to have to improve on what I did last year and play better," he said. "Nothing's a guarantee."

    Coach Mike Martz loves his work ethic and competitiveness.

    "Dane was terrific last year, and looking at him out here, he just picked up where he left off," Martz said during the offseason.

    NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

    —The Rams report to training camp in Macomb, Ill., on July 27 with the first practice scheduled for the next day. They will be in camp until Aug. 20, three days before a Monday night game in Kansas City.

    The Chicago Bears, coached by former Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, will visit Rams camp for three days from Aug. 5-7. There will be one practice the first day, two the second and then a scrimmage on Aug. 7.

    Said coach Mike Martz, "Having a scrimmage there at the stadium on Saturday morning makes it exciting for everybody. It gives us a chance to look at a lot of our young players under competitive situations, and the same for the Bears. The most important aspect of it is after seven or eight days (of camp), you get a chance to look at your players in a different environment against other players. Normally this can be kind of dangerous because it gets highly competitive and you run the risk of losing a good player in a drill.

    "However, with the Bears, Lovie and I know each other so well, these practices will be tempered and controlled. We'll talk to the players about maintaining their composure. Lovie and I will do a good job of preparing our teams for practice that that's what it is, and let's keep it professional. The scrimmage, though, will be a lot of fun for everybody."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I have to stay on top of my game. I have to really focus in on being a technician, being complete every single down. Guys are going to come out and challenge us from this point on out." - WR Torry Holt, on what he has to do match his league-leading totals of 117 receptions for 1,696 yards last season.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

    QUARTERBACKS: Starter — Marc Bulger. Backups — Chris Chandler, Jeff Smoker, Russ Michna

    The depth chart is clear at quarterback, with Bulger entering camp as the starter, Chandler the backup, Smoker the rookie looking to learn and Michna the undrafted free agent probably little more than a camp arm. However, with practice squads expanded to eight players this season, Michna could stick around if he shows ability and a willingness to learn during the summer. Chandler has the reputation of being fragile, but his arm remains strong despite the fact he turns 39 years old in October. He has learned the offense quickly, and with the talent around him would be competitive if he was forced to play. Still, the obvious key for any success is the improvement of Bulger, whose record as a starter in the regular season is 18-4. And one loss was to Seattle in 2002 when he departed early because of an injury. He did have some difficult stretches during games last season, but usually came up big when games were on the line. There's no reason to believe he won't continue to get better under the tutelage of coach Mike Martz.

    RUNNING BACKS: Starters — HB Marshall Faulk, FB Joey Goodspeed, HB Steven Jackson, HB Lamar Gordon, HB Adam Matthews, HB Dusty McGrorty, FB Arlen Harris.

    Faulk's 31st birthday was in February, but he had offseason knee surgery that is said to have him feeling better than he has for several years. But what happens when the hits starting coming again? Is he really healthy? We'll find out at some point during the summer. Even if Faulk isn't what he once was, he can still be a presence as a runner and receiver. The addition of Jackson should in the least improve the Rams' productivity in the red zone, and provide a tough overall runner in the event Faulk isn't 100 percent. With Jackson's star rising, that of Gordon may be falling. There are those that question his toughness, while nagging injuries have affected him when he's had the chance to play. His roster spot is probably secure unless Matthews or McGrorty open some eyes in camp. Both looked solid in minicamps, but when the pads go on it's a different ballgame. Matthews has excellent quickness, and might have potential as a kick returner.

    Goodspeed and Harris are the only fullbacks on the roster, and Harris would only be used there in certain situations as a possible runner or receiver. How he is utilized could also impact Gordon's role in the offense. Harris showed toughness after making the roster as an undrafted free agent last year, and also excelled on special teams. Goodspeed had some moments after joining the team during the 2003 season, but was inconsistent as he attempted to learn the system. Coaches hope an offseason of working in the offense will make him the consistent blocker needed when called upon.

    TIGHT ENDS: Starter — Brandon Manumaleuna. Backups — Cam Cleeland, Erik Jensen, Mike Brake, Joel Jacobs.

    Yes, there were raised eyebrows when the Rams matched an offer made to Manumaleuna by Carolina, but one way of looking at it is that the Panthers obviously saw something in him. The hope is that by staying at tight end and not moving around as much, he can concentrate on that position and avoid the mental mistakes that led to breakdowns. Manumaleuna also has to use his size as an asset and be tougher as a blocker and runner after the catch. He goes down far too quickly after receptions. Cleeland caught only 10 passes for 145 yards last season, but might be utilized more in the passing game. He's simply not a strong blocker. The Rams believe Jensen could upgrade the blocking if he can overcome a lack of size. Brake and Jacobs must show quickly they can compete at this level to have any chance.

    WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters — Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce. Backups — Dane Looker, Kevin Curtis, Mike Furrey, Shaun McDonald, Michael Coleman, Jamal Jones, Kelvin Kight, Derek McCoy, Ryan McGuffey, Brian Sump.

    The wide receiver corps remains virtually identical to what it was last season. Holt will try and duplicate a season in which he led the NFL in receptions (117) and yards (1,696). Bruce continues to perform at a high level, and could see his production increase if officials actually follow through with the expected emphasis on defensive holding. There is still no one better in the league coming in and out of breaks, and unimpeded routes for Bruce should lead to even more defensive headaches. Looker made an impact as the third receiver last season when Curtis hardly played because of a broken leg suffered in the preseason. He had 47 receptions for 495 yards and was consistently effective on third down. If Curtis is truly healthy and recovered from his leg injury, the speed he brings to the table should help open up the offense even more. Furrey was the surprise on the roster last season, and should make the final six again unless an unheralded rookie or Coleman makes a major step up. Coleman was on the practice squad most of the season, and has shown some pass-catching prowess in workouts. It's unknown whether he would be successful when live bullets are flying.

    Coaches were hopeful McDonald could supply to the offense what Az-Zahir Hakim once did, but he has to show he can be durable. He contributed little last season (10 receptions, 62 yards) in limited action. Jones, Kight, McCoy, McGuffey and Sump represent the team's usual camp receivers that have ability, but rarely are able to crack the top group. Sump has some intrigue because of his kick return ability in college. If one or two of the latter receivers emerge, they could wind up on the practice squad.

    OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — LT Orlando Pace, LG Andy McCollum, C Dave Wohlabaugh, RG Adam Timmerman, RT Kyle Turley. Backups — T Grant Williams, G/T Andy King, C/G Scott Tercero, C/G Larry Turner, C Andy Eby, T Ryan Schau, T Joel Hofmann, T Matt Morgan, T Ben Noll, T Jeremy Phillips, T Brandon Stephens.

    While fans found ways to find fault with the play of the line last season, production was better than the perception. Yes, there were some struggles with Turley and Wohlabaugh new to the system and McCollum switching to left guard, but the unit was healthy and compared to the rest of the league, problems were few. Now, all starters return, and assuming Turley and Wohlabaugh are recovered from injuries, a year together should create a better overall performance. The only question is whether Pace will miss most of camp again as the unsigned franchise player.

    The backups should be solid, with Williams at tackle, along with King and Tercero. What could be an issue early in camp and during preseason games is having tackles good enough to protect the quarterback if Pace is absent and Turley not playing much following back surgery. Coaches believe King's best position will be guard, and he could challenge McCollum down the road, but he might be forced to play tackle early if Schau can't handle the tackle chores. As noted above, there are several undrafted free-agent tackles on the roster, but it remains unknown whether any can develop fast enough to be counted on. Tercero is versatile, as is the rookie Turner. Eby missed last season because of a knee injury, and the coaches like his technique. But he might be a victim of the numbers game.

    DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — RE Bryce Fisher, T Damione Lewis, T Ryan Pickett, LE Leonard Little. Backups — E Anthony Hargrove, E/T Tyoka Jackson, T Jimmy Kennedy, E Erik Flowers, T Bernard Holsey, T Brian Howard, E Sean Moran, T Sean Mulcahy, E Nick Burley, T David Thompson.

    The departures of Grant Wistrom and Brian Young as free agents has created some roster battles that will be watched closely. Fisher and Jackson combined for as many sacks (7.5) as Wistrom had last season, but it's questionable whether either can play the amount of downs Wistrom did and still be consistently productive. Hargrove is the wild card, a rookie with impressive natural pass-rushing ability that needs seasoning. How quickly he can become a force is unknown. There is also a question whether Little will be distracted by the drunk driving charges hanging over his head. After his arrest in late April, Little was not around Rams Park for the remainder of the offseason.

    Moran is a savvy veteran that can contribute snaps, while Flowers is trying to have an impact for the first time since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2000. Inside is where several players have to step up. Pickett was a major force in 2002, but slipped last season while playing most of the year with a high ankle sprain. Lewis also was hampered by the same injury in the second half of the season. Kennedy worked hard in the offseason, and should benefit by the new approach to how much players weigh. He will be fine at 335 pounds, as long as he can be effective.

    The addition of Holsey provides veteran depth, which is needed. The only other tackles are the undersized Howard, Mulcahy, who might surprise, and Thompson, who played this past spring in NFL Europe.

    LINEBACKERS: Starters — OLB Tommy Polley, MLB Robert Thomas, OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa. Backups — Brandon Chillar, Trev Faulk, OLB Jeremy Loyd, OLB Tony Newson, OLB Justin Smith, Brandon Spoon, OLB Jason McWilliams, MLB Fred Pagac.

    The first four are set, assuming Chillar wins a job as the top backup. It's unlikely the fourth-round pick would be released, and his versatility makes him a potential backup at all three positions. Polley is in the final year of his contract, and needs to avoid injury and make more big plays to earn a lucrative deal. Thomas can be exceptional in the middle if he can stay on the field every game. Tinoisamoa should emerge as the leader of the group, and should be improved now that he understands the defense better.

    The competition for the final two or three jobs will be intense. Newson played for linebackers coach Joe Vitt in Kansas City, and might be the darkhorse. Loyd was around all last season, on and off the roster and practice squad, and has excellent speed. Smith also has shown solid ability, along with Faulk and Spoon. Spoon started for the Bills in 2001 before a biceps injury cost him the 2002 season. McWilliams suffered an injury in NFL Europe this past season, while Pagac appears a notch below the other candidates.

    DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — CB Jerametrius Butler, CB Travis Fisher, SS Adam Archuleta, FS Aeneas Williams. Backups — CB DeJuan Groce, CB Kevin Garrett, S Rich Coady, S Jason Shivers, S Justin Lucas, S Shedrick Copeland, CB/S Nijrell Eason, CB Dwight Anderson, S Kailan Williams, CB Corey Yates.

    The emergence of Butler last season resulted in the Rams matching a restricted free-agent offer he received from Washington. Fisher also continues to improve, while big things are expected from Groce and Garrett. Groce got some experience last season, while Garrett was bothered by injuries. Archuleta could be on the verge of a Pro Bowl, while Aeneas Williams keeps on ticking at the age of 36, moving to the slot in the nickel defense. Shivers could compete with Lucas for the nickel safety job. Coady provides versatile backup help and solid special teams play.

    The Rams like the potential of Copeland, and Eason might also have a chance. Whether Anderson, Kailan Williams or Yates can make the roster will likely depend on special teams.

    SPECIALISTS: PK Jeff Wilkins, P Sean Landeta, LS Chris Massey, H Dane Looker, KOR Arlen Harris, PR DeJuan Groce, KR Brian Sump, PR Mike Furrey, PR Dane Looker, PK Mark Jensen, P Jesse Nicassio.

    The top four are as good as it gets. Wilkins tied an NFL record with 39 field goals last season, while Landeta rolls on at the age of 42. Massey's name is rarely mentioned, which is good, because virtually every snap is dead-on. Looker was very good in his first year as the holder. But who will return kicks? Harris was steady, if not spectacular, last season. Groce is probably the best punt returner on the roster, but for that to happen, he has to be allowed to do it consistently, even if there is a mistake or two along the way. The kick returners had their jobs last season mainly because of ball security. Jensen and Nicassio are likely hoping to be seen by other teams during the exhibition season.

  • #2
    Re: Inside Slant

    It's no secret whatsoever, how the D line goes.....the season goes.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Inside Slant

      If everyone stays healthy the D will be a force this year.
      :ramlogo:
      JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS
      :ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram:

      "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
      Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

      Comment

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      • Nick
        Rams Inside Slant
        by Nick
        Inside Slant

        He might have been briefly in coach Mike Martz's doghouse before training camp started, but running back Steven Jackson has done everything in his power to win back the coach's good graces in training camp.

        Martz had said Jackson was out of shape, didn't know the offense and wasn't in attendance at a precamp the team had before leaving for training camp. Jackson was unsigned at the time, but quickly signed a five-year contract and got to work.

        He would routinely stay after practice getting pointers from running back Marshall Faulk, and was showing all the attributes the Rams believed he had when they traded up to pick him in the first round of April's draft.

        In a scrimmage against the Bears Aug. 7, he showed good hands and pass-catching ability on a 22-yard play. Then, in the first exhibition game last Thursday, also against the Bears, Jackson rushed 15 times for 73 yards and added four receptions for 18 yards.

        One reason given for the Cowboys passing on Jackson is that he had arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason. Martz acknowledged his knee is still not 100 percent.

        "His leg, where he had his scope, is not quite as strong as it used to be," Martz said. "You can see that. He favors it a little bit."

        Still, most important, is that he did a solid job picking up blitzes. Martz wasn't upset that the Bears blitzed in such an early game because it gave the offense an opportunity to work against it.

        Said Martz of Jackson, "Offensively, Steven is learning the offense, he's getting better. He still doesn't have the leg strength back yet that he will have eventually. He's still learning our offense, but he did a terrific job in pass blocking, which for a rookie, is a big challenge. He did a great job in recognizing blitzes and getting over. Fortunately, they did blitz us, and that's good for us, because with him back there, he has to get tested before the season starts."

        Asked about Jackson's prior experience in that phase of the game, Martz said, "He was tuned in and that's what's impressive about him. I was very impressed with that. That's very important. I'm pleased with him in his progress. I really am. He still has a long way to go. He's very talented. He's a little bit of a misguided missile right now. The hardest thing about a running back is, he's still not familiar with the angles we are trying to block and the anticipation, and setting guys up. He doesn't know this running game like he will. There's a lot to be said for that. It's just like a quarterback coming in and not knowing where the receivers are. You can kind of guess, but it affects you a little bit."

        CAMP CALENDAR: Camp opened at Macomb, Ill., July 27, with the first practice the following day. The Chicago Bears traveled to Macomb for an afternoon practice Aug. 5, two practices...
        -08-16-2004, 10:47 PM
      • RamDez
        Inside Slant
        by RamDez
        Things are different for Dane Looker as training camp approaches.

        Once hailed as "Little Ricky" because of his style of play is similar to former Rams receiver Ricky Proehl, Looker accepts the compliments, but wants to be his own man.

        That was tough for a while, as he struggled to make an NFL roster. He was an undrafted free agent in the Rams' 2000 training camp, and was opening some eyes when he was surprisingly traded to the Patriots on Aug. 7 that year.

        He made New England's roster, but ended the season on injured reserve and was then released on July 31 because of a hamstring injury. Looker was right back with the Rams for three weeks, but he wasn't healthy enough to make an impact. Out of football for the rest of the year, he re-signed with the Rams in February and excelled in NFL Europe, but the numbers game caught up to him again.

        Released on Sept. 2, he spent most of the season on the practice squad until being added to the active roster for the final three games of the season.

        Last year turned out to be his coming-out party. Making the roster also resulted in him being the holder for kicker Jeff Wilkins. Wilkins wanted him all along after the departure of, you guessed it, Proehl, but there was no guarantee Looker would make the roster.

        He helped Wilkins tie a league record with 39 field goals and offensively was third on the team with 47 receptions for 495 yards and three touchdowns. More important, 27 of his catches, including 18 on third down, were first-down plays.

        Despite his success, Looker takes nothing for granted.

        "We've got some good receivers on this team, so I'm going to have to improve on what I did last year and play better," he said. "Nothing's a guarantee."

        Coach Mike Martz loves his work ethic and competitiveness.

        "Dane was terrific last year, and looking at him out here, he just picked up where he left off," Martz said during the offseason.

        NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

        —The Rams report to training camp in Macomb, Ill., on July 27 with the first practice scheduled for the next day. They will be in camp until Aug. 20, three days before a Monday night game in Kansas City.

        The Chicago Bears, coached by former Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, will visit Rams camp for three days from Aug. 5-7. There will be one practice the first day, two the second and then a scrimmage on Aug. 7.

        Said coach Mike Martz, "Having a scrimmage there at the stadium on Saturday morning makes it exciting for everybody. It gives us a chance to look at a lot of our young players under competitive situations, and the same for the Bears. The most important aspect of it is after seven or eight days (of camp), you get a chance to look at your players in a different environment against other...
        -07-19-2004, 01:08 PM
      • RamDez
        Rams find Camp Macomb was much cooler than usual
        by RamDez
        Rams find Camp Macomb was much cooler than usual
        By Jim Thomas
        Of the Post-Dispatch
        Saturday, Aug. 21 2004

        For the Rams, Camp Macomb '04 is best summed up by one lingering snapshot. It
        was Thursday morning, on what turned out to be the last day of camp for the
        team at Western Illinois University.

        And there, doing his thing in the Rams secondary, was No. 35, Aeneas Williams .
        . . in sweatpants!

        Think about that for a moment. Training camp. Mid-August. Midwest. Sweatpants.

        So much for the dog days of August. In their 10 summers since the move to St.
        Louis, this has been the Rams' coolest training camp.

        "By far," head trainer Jim Anderson said. "I think we had maybe two (hot) days.
        We had that one Friday that was kind of in the low 90s and pretty humid a
        couple of weeks ago."

        And a couple of days where the temperature may have reached the mid-80s. But
        that was about it.

        "In past summers, it's been upper 90s and even up in the 100s on a few days. We
        just didn't have anything near that this year. Other than those (few) days, you
        couldn't have asked for a better camp."

        Gone are the days when tight end Troy Drayton collapsed in the dinner line
        because of dehydration. When offensive tackle Ryan Tucker sweated off 10 to 12
        pounds per practice. Or when Anderson's training staff would work overtime
        after practice administering IVs to restore fluids.

        "There were times when we'd do 10-12 IVs after a practice on a hot day,"
        Anderson said. "We didn't do one IV this year - not one. That's just pretty
        much unheard of for this part of the country."

        The weather, says middle linebacker Robert Thomas, "has just been a blessing."

        Some days, the Macomb weather was almost too cool, according to wide receiver
        Torry Holt.

        "It's kind of tough in the afternoons when it's cool like that," Holt said. "It
        takes a minute for the muscles to get going, and strains and different things
        like that can happen."

        Despite the resort weather, Camp Macomb '04 was hardly a, pardon the
        expression, country club.

        On that same cool morning last Thursday, defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson was
        dripping sweat when he spoke to reporters after practice. "Well, with Bill
        Kollar, he's going to find a way to get you wet," Jackson said. "That's not an
        issue."

        Kollar is the Rams' defensive line coach.

        "Camp is still rough no matter where it is," Jackson said. "But the weather can
        make it either extra rough, or tolerable. So this year, it was pretty tolerable
        with the weather."

        ...
        -08-22-2004, 01:06 AM
      • RamDez
        Getting ready for the Rams
        by RamDez
        Getting ready for the Rams
        By JOHN BARACANI

        Eagle News Editor

        Fred Adair remembers the summer of 1996. That was the first year the St. Louis Rams held their training camp in Macomb. At the time, Adair – WIU's grounds maintenance foreman – wondered if it might be the last.

        After the Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation (MAEDCO) invested $250,000 for the construction of two practice fields and the Rams decided on Macomb as their summer home that year, WIU's grounds department was left with about a month and a half, according to Adair, to prepare for the team's use of the fields. In this the ninth year the Rams will call Macomb home for just under a month, and field preparation is a spring-long undertaking, with demands one would expect from an NFL team.

        "The first year they were here we didn't have grass on the sidelines and we had to haul mulch in and put it along the sidelines," Adair said. "There was water everywhere. The sidelines weren't done so we hauled mulch for a week. The day before they came it rained like two inches; we wondered why we ever got into this."

        The hard work – which, among many other duties, includes reseeding, fertilizing and aerating two practice fields once Western has finished using them in the spring – has proved fruitful. Since that first year, hundreds of thousands of Rams devotees have visited Macomb to catch glimpses of such star players as Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Torry Holt.

        “It’s quite an extensive process in terms of the preparation," said Larry Mortier, Western's vice president of advancement and public services assistant. "We have a number of areas on the campus that are involved on a planning committee that has been in place going on nine years that the Rams have trained here."

        In addition to Western's grounds department, several other areas on campus – as well as within the city of Macomb – contribute to what Mortier calls a "joint venture."

        "That coordination is extremely important to make it all happen in a very positive way and create the most productive environment for the Rams," Mortier said, adding that MAEDCO's contribution was crucial to bringing St. Louis to Macomb. "We have received some very positive comments about our ability to do that, and that has led to their return each year.”

        “We just saw this as an opportunity that should not be missed," said MAEDCO Executive Director Kim Pierce of her organization's contribution toward the practice fields. "The partnership between the university, the city, the county and MAEDCO was great. We all pulled it together. You see what’s happened; this is our ninth year celebrating. It’s been a great, great venture for us."

        While in Macomb this year from July 28 through Aug. 20, the Rams will make use of 10 floors...
        -06-30-2004, 03:38 PM
      • RamDez
        McGrorty
        by RamDez
        McGrorty begins training camp with Rams


        By JENNIFER SQUIRES
        for the Mail Tribune



        Former Southern Oregon University running back Dusty McGrorty began training camp with the St. Louis Rams Wednesday at Western Illinois University in Macomb.

        McGrorty has spent the majority of the summer working out with the NFL team, including lasting through a rookie conditioning camp where one-third of the 30 players were cut. Three or four rounds of cuts are set to occur before the season gets under way.

        "My goals going in — I'm just going to go in there and do the best I can," McGrorty said prior to the first practice. "If it works out, it works out. If not, I have no regrets."

        The three-time All-American set 10 school records and eight regional records at SOU before being drafted by the Rams this spring.

        Over the summer, he has switched from tailback to fullback in order to find a niche with the Rams.

        Going into training camp, McGrorty is third on the depth chart at fullback.

        "I feel pretty confident," McGrorty said. "As long as I know my plays and I don't screw up, I feel pretty confident."

        McGrorty has been injury-free all summer

        "I feel in pretty good shape and everything," he said. "I just don't want to let anyone from home down."

        This week, SOU head football coach Jeff Olson will make the trip back east to watch the former Warrenton High prep star at camp.

        "Coach flying out, that means a lot to me," McGrorty said. "I've been looking forward to that."

        Camp runs through Aug. 20 and will be highlighted by a three-day practice session with the Chicago Bears.

        The Rams' first preseason game will be against the Bears on Aug. 17 in St. Louis.

        Regular-season play begins Sept. 12 against Arizona.

        Two other former Raiders are also in NFL training camps this week.

        Wide receiver Andrae Thurman, who was initially picked up by the New York Giants, was released earlier in the summer. He’s now working out with the Houston Texans. Steve Baker, who led the NAIA punting average in 2003, is with the Oakland Raiders.
        -07-29-2004, 11:15 AM
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