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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.

    Its 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 whats happened; this is our ninth year celebrating. Its 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. Hes 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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