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The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens

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  • The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    MACOMB, Ill. - Armed with air mattresses, extra pillows and assorted creature comforts, Rams players arrived for training camp Tuesday with a mixture of dread and delight.

    Dread for the regimen of two-a-days that begins anew this morning on the practice fields of Western Illinois University. Delight in the renewal of friendships and the anticipation of the season that lies ahead.

    "Camp is camp," linebacker Robert Thomas said. "It's the toughest thing you go through during the football season. You'd rather be at home, rather be in your own bed. But it brings us together as a team, through something that you've got to fight through together."

    "It's time," said Arlen Harris, who will try to make the switch from tailback to fullback this season. "Sitting at home, you can only work out so much. So I was ready to go."

    Harris spent part of his summer in the tropics of Aruba. Thomas went boating on Lake of the Ozarks. Defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson hopped into the family truck with his wife, daughter and niece, and headed for Christmas, Indiana.

    "It's an area where it's Christmas every day of the year," Jackson said. "We stayed at the Santa Claus Inn."

    But as of Tuesday night, the residence for 80 Rams players is the Thompson Hall dormitory, known for its frigid air conditioning and lumpy mattresses.

    "Probably the worst thing about staying up here is the beds that we have to sleep in," long snapper Chris Massey said. "Too short, too narrow, not too comfy."

    Massey made the drive from St. Louis with 67.

    "They closed some exit I usually take on 67, so that made us go nine extra miles," Gordon said. "We took out that map. But we figured it out."

    Safety Adam Archuleta made a fashion statement as he lugged his things into Thompson - he was sporting a blue and white headband.

    "I just felt like rockin' a headband today," Archuleta said, somewhat defensively.

    The Rams open practice this morning with all seven draft picks signed and on the field. Only franchise player Orlando Pace, in the midst of another contract stalemate, will be missing in action.

    "We've got an Orlando watch out - out there on the highway," coach Mike Martz joked. "When 'Big O' gets here, we'll love him to death. I understand what he's going through. I really do. It's hard for coaches. But it is what it is. We're not going to change it. Why worry about it?"

    Center Dave Wohlabaugh, still feeling the effects of offseason hip surgery, will be the player most limited in practice.

    "I think we have to be very careful with him," Martz said. "We will piecemeal him in, probably in afternoon practices with some light work. And then as the weeks go by, we'll try to improve what he can do in terms of participation."

    Right tackle Kyle Turley underwent offseason back surgery.

    "Kyle's fine," Martz said. "Kyle's injury, that's been resolved for quite some time. He looks like he's in terrific shape. He's been working out hard."

    Meanwhile, running back Marshall Faulk and safety Aeneas Williams will be limited to one practice a day - the afternoon session - as was the case at the last training camp.

    Faulk, who declined to talk to reporters Tuesday, is coming off offseason knee surgery. Williams has an ongoing turf toe problem.

    "Really, Aeneas can do probably anything," Martz said. "But we're not going to ask him to do that. Marshall could probably do a lot, but we're not going to do that."

    Defensive Leonard Little won't be limited on the field, but will be limited off the field in terms of interviews. Martz has mandated that Little be made available to the media only once a week in camp, and that he be asked football questions only. Little is facing felony charges for drunken driving.

    "I just think it's fair to Leonard that way," Martz said. "Otherwise, he'd just get hounded on some things. We've just got to make sure that everyone understands the guidelines."

    Martz also has tweaked the daily practice schedule. Morning sessions have been moved up almost an hour - starting at 8:10 a.m. Afternoon workouts have been pushed backed slightly - starting at 4 p.m.

    The idea is to give the players more time between workouts to recover. Martz also has eliminated the special teams sessions held every third day in lieu of a regular workout. The team will use that time for weight training and conditioning.

    Apparently, new special teams coach Mike Stock is highly efficient and doesn't need the extra time.

    "It's hard to explain," Martz said. "Just the structure of it, he's going to get everything covered. He said, 'I don't need this (extra time). Use this as meeting time or whatever.' "

    Then, in a not-so-subtle swipe at former special teams coach Bobby April, Martz added, "What a breath of fresh air."

    * * * * * *

    Today's schedule

    The Rams' itinerary in Macomb, Ill.

    Practices are planned for 8:10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
    Times are subject to change.
    For up-to-date information, call 1-866-726-7226.
    Practices are free and open to the public.

  • #2
    Re: The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens

    I almost forgot that our special teams was like the worst in the league and kept us from being great.

    Any change will be good. We can only go up from where we were.

    I'm happy right now just thinking about a better special teams. Hopefully one of our young corners or somebody will show up and be explosive on PR/KR's.


    • #3
      Re: The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens

      Football is finally here! YEEE HAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :ramlogo:

      Adm. William "Bull" Halsey


      • #4
        Re: The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens

        Apparently, new special teams coach Mike Stock is highly efficient and doesn't need the extra time.

        I hope he is the right guy for the job, we can't get worse.


        • #5
          Re: The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens

          Originally posted by Rambos
          Apparently, new special teams coach Mike Stock is highly efficient and doesn't need the extra time.

          I hope he is the right guy for the job, we can't get worse.
          Please knock on some wood before you go to sleep tonight...thank you.


          • #6
            Re: The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens

            "We've got an Orlando watch out - out there on the highway," coach Mike Martz joked. "When 'Big O' gets here, we'll love him to death. I understand what he's going through. I really do. It's hard for coaches. But it is what it is. We're not going to change it. Why worry about it?"

            And fans wonder why he's so successful? Did you guys listen to that? He knows how important Big O is to this team. He's not going to slam him. Just like earlier when people were slamming Martz for what he said about Jackson, I saw it as standing up for Marshall Faulk. Players love this guy. I would. If I had earned his respect and went through some things off the field as we all do as human beings, and had Mike Martz as my HC, I would feel very comfortable walking into the locker room everyday. It's not always about saving timeouts, getting a better blend of offense, stopping the run. We only tend to look at Martz through the Warner scenario but I bet a dollar to a doughnut he wasn't the only one making that decision.

            Players love playing for Martz. I guarantee you he learned from the Carolina decision. You doubters, you have a right to feel the way you feel abouit Martz. I understand your position. However, I also see one heck of a coach in front of us in Mike Martz, and he will win the division again this year. If that isn't enough for some of you, so be it. But just remember this, when the Rams win the division this year, that will mean that the rest of the teams haven't won the division three out of five years. Arizona never has, and believe it or not neither has Seattle in the NFC West. Martz won two and will get his third this year. If that comes true, how can any of you even question him as an HC? If this is the year you judge (it is his 5th) Martz on, then Fargo you will have to admit that Martz is more than just an OC. He will win his third Division Championship in 5 years.


            • #7
              Re: The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens

              Man I'm pumped. Thursday and Friday, I'm in Macomb watching our Rams. This is like Christmas in July. :redface:
              The more things change, the more they stay the same.


              • #8
                Re: The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens

                I don't know Tex, I don't recall any kind words from Proehl about Martz and he's not the only one. Martz taking a pot shot at April is low-class, too. There's such a thing as taking the high road and Martz didn't take it.


                • #9
                  Re: The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens

                  Well, for every ying there's a yang I guess....


                  Related Topics


                  • Nick
                    Let the training camp info begin!
                    by Nick
                    Rams report to training camp today
                    By Jim Thomas
                    Of the Post-Dispatch
                    Tuesday, Jul. 26 2005

                    In the ever-changing landscape of the National Football League, only six head
                    coaches have been with their current teams longer, including just two in the
                    NFC - Seattle's Mike Holmgren and Philadelphia's Andy Reid.

                    By now, Mike Martz has an established way of doing things, whether it's calling
                    a game or running a training camp. But like his coaching counterparts
                    throughout the league, Martz is constantly tweaking things.

                    Most obvious among the "tweaking" is the fact that the Rams have returned to
                    St. Louis after nine seasons of training camp at Western Illinois University in
                    Macomb, Ill.

                    "I'm really looking forward to it," Martz said Tuesday. "Just the fact that
                    you're going to be in a familiar environment and not have all of the lugging it
                    up there (to Macomb) and then coming back, and having to make do in certain

                    "If we were going to go away to camp, that's where we would go. But everything
                    is going to be a little more familiar here, obviously. It'll give the fans a
                    chance to come out and watch us, which was out of the question up there for a
                    lot of people. Now, anybody in town can come out and see us practice in the
                    morning. I think that's real good.

                    "And it's familiar surroundings for these players. Now, if you give them a
                    night off, they can go home. And the coaches can go home at night. I think
                    that's emotionally less draining, and then physically less draining not having
                    to make that drive up and back all the time."

                    Beginning with Thursday's practice, 15 morning sessions at the team's Earth
                    City facility will be open to the public from 8:30-10:30. Afternoon practices
                    will be closed to the public, largely because of more tweaking by Martz: To a
                    large degree those will be lighter workouts. In addition, many of the afternoon
                    sessions will be held in the team's indoor facility - which has no place to put
                    spectators - in an effort to beat the heat.

                    "The afternoon (practice) is more of a meeting, and a lot of mental stuff in
                    the indoor facility because of the heat," Martz said.

                    More NFL teams are straying from the traditional training camp concept of
                    two-a-days. Switching to lighter afternoon practices is a move by Martz in that

                    "You can't afford to lose players like this to injury," Martz said. "Having two
                    heavy practices (a day) is more for coaches than it is for players. It's to
                    ease some trepidation that you might have about something as a coach.
                    Repetition, repetition, repetition....
                    -07-27-2005, 12:16 AM
                  • RamDez
                    With minor renovations, Rams begin to build
                    by RamDez
                    With minor renovations, Rams begin to build
                    By Jim Thomas

                    Of the Post-Dispatch

                    MACOMB, Ill. - The foundation was laid a couple of months ago, during minicamps and the lighter practices known as OTAs, or organized team activity.

                    But with Wednesday's start of training camp, veteran safety Aeneas Williams provided this construction update: "We're now putting in the 2-by-4s, and starting to build a sturdy house."

                    Some of the outward swagger of past Rams teams is gone. But with a 61-27 record over the past five seasons - including four playoff berths, three division titles and two Super Bowl appearances - expectations remain high.

                    "In my opinion, this is as good a team as I've been on in my career - in terms of talent," defensive captain Tyoka Jackson said. "Now, the experience level is not what it was in 2001 (the Rams' most recent Super Bowl squad). But talent-wise, no question it's there."

                    By season's end, the Rams expect to build a mansion, not a shack. And coach Mike Martz already is tinkering with the blueprint. Most notable on Wednesday was the sight of Arlen Harris working almost exclusively at halfback.

                    "We think that's what he is, really," Martz said.

                    But what about those plans to switch Harris to fullback?

                    "We want him to learn fullback, because ultimately during the season, we'd like to use him as such - with he and Marshall (Faulk) in the backfield, just as another alternative in various personnel groupings," Martz said. "And if you teach him (fullback), in the event that something would happen to Joey Goodspeed, we know that he can go in there and survive and do well. But first and foremost we kind of look at him as a halfback."

                    This is true even though Harris reported at 226 pounds, about 15 pounds heavier than his playing weight as a rookie last season. An offseason of weight training and conditioning has made Harris faster, even in his bulked-up form.

                    "He really got our attention because he's got some real live ability in terms of reading and cutting and breaking tackles and all those things," Martz said.

                    The Rams also have moved defensive end Nick Burley to tight end.

                    The Rams' 10th training camp since the move to St. Louis began bright and early Wednesday. Martz has moved up the starting time of morning workouts to 8 a.m. - an hour earlier than past camps.

                    "I'd rather be sleeping," wide receiver Torry Holt joked. "But if that's what Coach (Martz) feels is going to make us a better football team and get us through training camp ... we've just got to do it."

                    At least no one could complain about the weather. It was resort weather - so much so that Martz came out for the start of the afternoon
                    -07-29-2004, 03:34 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

                    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
                    Rams Head Home
                    by RamDez
                    Rams Head Home
                    Friday, August 20, 2004

                    By Nick Wagoner
                    Staff Writer

                    With the quickness of a Marshall Faulk cutback, coach Mike Martz ended the Rams’ 2004 training camp about 5:15 Thursday evening. Martz cited a major storm brewing in the Macomb area as the reason for the abrupt end.
                    “I told them to get out of here tonight,” Martz said. “I don’t want them driving home in the rain in the morning. We wouldn’t get anything out of a morning practice here, anyway.”

                    The players and coaching staff will leave for St. Louis on Thursday night and probably have a practice Friday afternoon at Rams Park. The end of camp signals the next step in the drive toward the regular season. St. Louis will play cross-state rival Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night.

                    The regular season kicks off Sept. 12 against Arizona at the Edward Jones Dome. Martz said he is more than satisfied with the work the team put in at camp. “We had a heck of a camp up here,” Martz said. “The injury list is minimal compared to what it’s been in past years. I’m pleased with where we are.”

                    WOHLABAUGH GONE: It was a disappointing ending for center Dave Wohlabaugh, who spent 2003 starting in the middle of the Rams’ offensive line.

                    St. Louis cut ties with its injured center Wednesday night. Wohlabaugh had surgery on his hip in March and was not expected back for at least three or four months.

                    Wohlabaugh had not practiced with the team during this training camp and was likely going to miss the entire season. He recently traveled to Ohio to have the hip check out again, but the results were not positive that Wohlabaugh would play again this year or any other.

                    With his tenure in St. Louis ending, so too, might his career. Wohlabaugh signed with the Rams on Feb. 28, 2003. Wohlabaugh was entering his 10th season in the league. Andy McCollum, who started at left guard for the Rams last season, moved back to center at the beginning of camp.

                    McCollum said he feels comfortable playing his original position again, but he is sorry to see his friend and linemate struggle with injuries. “It’s just unfortunate, the injury that Dave had,” McCollum said. “He’s only been here a year, but I consider him a friend of mine.”

                    TIGHT COMPETITION: Brandon Manumaleuna seems to be the only tight end that has wrapped up his position, though a return from hamstring problems by Cameron Cleeland could bring the competition into focus. Manumaleuna looks like he is in better shape, showing better burst off the ball and making some difficult catches in traffic.

                    Martz said Manumaleuna’s offseason efforts are paying off handsomely. “Brandon has come a long way,” Martz said. “First of all, he has lost a lot of weight. He’s done a terrific job, in terms of being a receiver and a significant blocker. The thing about him is that he has been consistently excellent,...
                    -08-21-2004, 12:19 AM
                  • RamDez
                    First Day of 2004 Campaign In the Books
                    by RamDez
                    First Day of 2004 Campaign In the Books
                    Wednesday, July 28, 2004

                    By NICK WAGONER
                    Staff Writer

                    Adjusting to life in the NFL can be difficult for any rookie. There are possible pitfalls at every corner, from managing their newfound riches to setting the alarm correctly.

                    Such is life for Rams’ tailback Steven Jackson. All of those worries were certainly on his mind the past few days. Jackson signed a five-year contract Sunday and arrived at camp via the rookie bus on Tuesday. All of those other worries went away today, as St. Louis held its first two practices of training camp.

                    The Rams kicked off their first practice at 8:10 a.m., finishing at about 10:30. The afternoon session started at 4 and ended about 5:30. Head coach Mike Martz said he was pleased with the tempo of the practices, but there isn’t much evaluation that can be done after one day.

                    “We have a long ways to go,” Martz said. “The effort was terrific, but as we all know, effort isn’t enough. After the first day, there isn’t a whole lot to tell you. Their heads will be swimming here (in) another three days.”

                    Jackson had no problems waking up in time for the morning practice. He showed up on time and stretched with the rest of the team. The thing that caught his attention, however, was what could be the most difficult adjustment for a rookie to make, the speed of the game.

                    It can be easy for a young player to grow accustomed to dominating slower and less talented players. Jackson knows all about that, for the former Oregon State star dominated the Pacific 10 Conference. Jackson led the conference with 1,545 rushing yards and 2,015 total yards.

                    It didn’t take long for Jackson to realize that things won’t be so easy at the game’s highest level.

                    “It’s definitely faster,” Jackson said. “Right now, it’s fast and it will just take a little time to get used to.”

                    By most accounts, the first day of camp was like any other. The Rams went through the usual run of drills, ranging from the one-on-one battles between offensive and defensive linemen to 11-on-11 exercises.

                    Martz said the team starts most camps by getting reacquainted with the basics of the playbooks and techniques. The only real change from past seasons was the setup of the practice schedule. Martz said the idea for the additional time between practices came from some of the veteran players.

                    “I just want to try it,” Martz said. “If we don’t like it, we will change it back.”

                    While Jackson was busy adjusting to the speed and pace of the players and practices, a veteran was sinking his teeth into the beginning of one of his favorite times of the year. Safety Aeneas Williams, who is entering his 15th season, said he enjoys the time he spends at training camp.

                    “If you don’t focus on so much the tedious and monotony of it, it’s enjoyable...
                    -07-29-2004, 11:57 AM