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  • Rams find Camp Macomb was much cooler than usual

    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."

    Jackson has been to 11 training camps as an NFL player. He has not been to a
    camp in which the weather was so moderate.

    Nor had he been to a camp where the players got a night off to go to the

    "Absolutely not," Jackson said. "When I was with Tampa, the schedule was what
    it was every single day. That's just the way it was. And again, Tony Dungy's a
    great coach. Don't get me wrong. But I like it when a guy can see what's going
    on, and change what he's doing based on the needs of the team."

    So it is for coach Mike Martz. He runs the team hard. Defensive end Erik
    Flowers says they're the toughest practices in the league because the Rams try
    to practice at game speed. But Martz also can back off.

    "He's been good to us," safety Adam Archuleta said. "He's given us some time
    off and helped us get our legs fresh. I don't know if he could've been any
    easier on us. So now it's up to us to return the favor and play well. And be
    fresh and run around."

    The night at the movies was preceded by a team barbecue, which helped break up
    the monotony of camp. Martz gave the team a full two days off following the
    Chicago preseason game on Aug. 12. Earlier in camp, he canceled team meetings
    one evening.

    "We've worked so hard," Martz said. "You've got to recover. You just have to,
    and let some of these nicks heal."

    But the first 11 days of camp, culminating with the Bears scrimmage on Aug. 7,
    were as grueling as any Martz camp since he took over as head coach in 2000.
    There was more hitting, and more live segments in practice, although the
    full-tackling work basically was done by backup players.

    "I think he was trying to send a message," Holt said. "His thing is being
    physical. Playing fast. And I think the message was, 'Well, we're going to go
    until I feel we're at that point where we're physical.'

    "I think it was good for us as a football team. It gets us tough. It gets us
    physically ready to roll throughout the course of the preseason."

    And what lies ahead in the regular season.

    But the idea isn't to grind down players during camp, which is why Martz throws
    the players a bone every now and then in terms of extra time off.

    "He's done that ever since he's taken over the head coaching spot," Holt said.
    "It's good for us as a football team. I think the most important thing is how
    we respond after he's thrown us that bone. And that's coming out and practicing
    hard, and paying attention to details and giving him exactly what it is that he

    "Mike's a guy (who) likes perfection. He wants it done right. He wants it done
    fast. And he wants it done with an attitude."

    So the Rams leave camp knowing that young players such as wide receiver Shaun
    McDonald and offensive lineman Scott Tercero have made moves up the depth
    chart. There appears to be much more depth at linebacker than in recent years.
    The early returns on Bryce Fisher and Erik Flowers at right defensive end have
    been favorable.

    The offensive line remains a big concern because of injury and the absence of
    Orlando Pace. Depth is a concern at defensive tackle and tight end. Marc Bulger
    has thrown the ball well. Veterans Isaac Bruce and Mr. Sweatpants, Williams,
    look frisky. Not enough has been seen from Marshall Faulk to draw any

    All in all, the Rams broke camp in Macomb on Thursday night with as many
    questions unanswered as answered. But cool weather or not, training camp is
    still more about developing an attitude - mental and physical calluses, if you
    will - than answering depth-chart concerns. There's still plenty of time for

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

  • #2
    Re: Rams find Camp Macomb was much cooler than usual

    Speaking as one who lives here, I like cool summers in Macomb. Sure it's odd, but we usually pay for it later. Wet fall, very cold winter, something. The cooler weather put fans more into a football mood I think because the bulk of the season is played in cool weather. If the fans feel like it's more like real football, they respond more like it's real. They cheer, they oooh, they aah, they argh! That in turn puts more fire into the players. They respond to fans responding to what they are doing. In the end, it's all good.


    Related Topics


    • MauiRam
      Camp grind brings few signature moments ..
      by MauiRam
      Camp grind brings few signature moments

      Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
      [More columns]By Bryan Burwell

      MEQUON, Wis. — In the late afternoon, the little boys begin to make their moves. Just outside the gates of Century Stadium on the asphalt ramp that leads the Rams players on the long walk from the practice field to the training camp locker room, the boys strategically stake out their positions like hunters on a safari.

      With a Sharpie in one hand and just about anything that has a flat surface for autographs clutched in the other, the boys reach over the fence or slip under the giant wooden barricades waiting for a player to walk by and make their day.

      The kids try bluntness. "Hey 72!! Sign this!!"

      They try politeness. "Ooooooh, oooooh, ooooooh, Mr. Holt, sir. Can you pul-eeeeze sign my jersey?"

      They try flattery. "Hey Marc, Marc, Marc! Over here! You're my favorite player."

      And when words won't do, some youngsters use the fail-safe staple that involves an innocent-looking 6-year-old just standing there looking like a lost little puppy in search of a sympathetic pat on the head.

      If there is any hint of romance in the grinding, tiring and violent world of an NFL training camp, this is it; the kids with their wide-eyed enthusiasm and unfettered hero-worship. It's probably why so many of the Rams players dutifully stand there forever signing every bit of memorabilia shoved in their faces even after exhausting two-a-days.

      The rest of the time is a repetitious "Groundhog's Day" existence of playbooks and ice packs, practices and meetings. "You can dress it up all you want, change the scenery every day," linebacker Chris Draft said. "But what training camp comes down to for the players after the first day is nothing more than a field, a bed, meeting rooms and food."

      There's more to it than that, of course. But once the grind begins with early-morning breakfast, trips to the training room, two-hour morning practices, lunch, nap, training room, another practice, dinner, late-night meetings, late-night snack, curfew and more sleep, it feels like a recurring dream/nightmare.

      "The (lakefront) view's great, but it ain't much to me after the first day," said defensive end Leonard Little. "All I care about now is how quickly can I go back to my room and sleep." MORE BURWELL

      Training camp veterans know what this grind can do, mentally and physically. By Monday afternoon, if you looked across the practice field, you could see tight end Anthony Becht walking around in his bare feet in full uniform with bandages on both his big toes, plus a wrap on his tender hamstring muscles. Safety O.J. Atogwe had an ice pack on his left knee. Cornerback Ron...
      -07-30-2008, 12:35 AM
    • 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....
      -07-26-2005, 11:16 PM
    • RamWraith
      The Journey Begins: Rams camp opens
      by RamWraith
      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...
      -07-28-2004, 05:34 AM
    • MauiRam
      Players get good vibes from fans at workout ...
      by MauiRam
      Sports Rams Story

      By Bill Coats

      MEQUON, Wis. — There was Rams gear and Packers paraphernalia, and coach Scott Linehan said he even spotted "a Trent Green No. 10 Kansas City jersey out there. We've got them all."

      Some 2,000 spectators jammed into Century Stadium on the Concordia University campus Saturday for the only scheduled intrasquad scrimmage of Rams training camp. They filled the stands and lined up along the fence that surrounds the field.

      "They love their football up here," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "There wasn't a lot of clapping, but I think they just enjoy watching football."

      The scrimmage last year at Rams Park drew about 500 fewer viewers.

      "I'm really impressed. I want to say thanks to the people of Mequon for coming out and supporting us," wide receiver Torry Holt said.

      The club has just a one-year agreement to hold camp in Mequon, but Linehan is giving out strong vibes about returning in 2009.

      "This has been a great experience," he said. "I can honestly say they've been very open to us being here, very cordial, cheered us on. I know we're in Packers country, but we've had a number of Rams fans that have shown up. They've told me where they're from, they've planned their summer trips (around camp), and that's what I was hoping for when we decided to move up here.

      "Hopefully they'll go back and tell everybody else, and maybe we'll finish this camp off with some more Rams fans up here."


      The scrimmage marked the 13th workout since camp kicked off July 24, and the players finally are getting their first break. They're off until 6:15 p.m. Sunday, when meetings resume. The next practice is Monday morning.

      "Some have family here, some are maybe going to get on the lake (Michigan)," Linehan said. "I told them they're grown men, it's their business. No curfew tonight."

      Most of the players, especially the veterans, probably will use the time off to catch their breath and rest their bodies.


      The Rams will fly to Nashville, Tenn., after practice Tuesday morning. They'll work out with the Titans on Wednesday and Thursday prior to the clubs' preseason game Saturday night.

      "I think next week is going to be a very, very critical week for us," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "Once we get off the plane, we've got to go into a business mode, an evaluation mode for everybody, from No. 1 down to No. 80 (on the roster). That's just the approach we have to take.

      "If we go to Tennessee and we practice well ... I think that'll give this team a big boost."

      After their trip, the Rams will return...
      -08-02-2008, 11:43 PM
    • RamDez
      First Day of 2004 Campaign In the Books
      by RamDez
      First Day of 2004 Campaign In the Books
      Wednesday, July 28, 2004

      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, 10:57 AM