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  • St. Louis Rams Team Report

    New Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo promised his team the first few days of training camp would be "a bear," and while the weather wasn't too hot and the two-a-days had just one practice each day in full pads, the intensity was high as well as the hitting.
    During the first two morning practices, the ones in full pads, there were about 30 plays with live tackling.

    After the first day, Spagnuolo said, "We need to find out quickly - you've got to remember again it's a whole new staff and a lot of unknowns - really the only way to find out is to put them in those kind of situations. As we go along here every day we will decide how many of those periods will be live. It was really two periods and about 30 plays of live."

    When questioned further by the media, Spagnuolo winked and said, "Do you think it was tough? I didn't think it was that tough. It was physical."

    Of course, Spagnuolo did admit to something else: "I'm doing this every time. I've got my hands behind my back (crossing fingers)."

    Said linebacker Will Witherspoon, "Usually you don't go live that first day of pads but it's good. You really want to get the feel of hitting again, striking guys again. That was kind of the key point of it and getting the feel of hitting through a guy. It was great. I think it was good for everybody to come out here and just get moving and get in the momentum of the game."

    Added cornerback Ron Bartell, "One thing I have learned over the years is that it's a lot easier to be hard on guys and then kind of back off than it is to be light and try to get hard on guys again. I think he knows what he's doing. He knows when to let up. Right now, it's day two so I think we'll be fine."

    The hitting even included running back Steven Jackson.

    "He's got to get hit, everybody else has got to get hit," linebacker Chris Draft said. "We have got to get ready too. Right now, that's what we have. We have our chance to get out here, run to the ball and be able to tackle the ball. It doesn't matter who has it."

    Players have been running to the ball, gang tackling, and picking up even incomplete passes to run with it to get in the mindset of creating turnovers and making plays. While the defense has been maligned in recent seasons, Spagnuolo believes there's more there than is realized.

    "I think we've got guys with that kind of attitude," he said. "I do believe that. We've got to keep healthy. (But) we've got to do the things out here to kind of get ready for the competition that we're going to face going forward."

    Concluded Bartell, "You better have some attitude. I don't think we've carried the attitude the past couple years that we should've had, and we paid for it on the field. So (the coaches) are coming in, they're instilling a new attitude, new philosophy. We're just buying in."

    Meanwhile, on the second day of hitting, Spagnuolo let it be known he wasn't totally pleased, calling it "sluggish" at times.

    He said, "I will tell you what I told them at the end: We try to condition in practice; we don't do it after. And there were some moments in there that I thought were a little bit slow or a little bit walking around. So I fed it to them, and hopefully they'll respond."

    CAMP CALENDAR: The Rams will have a scrimmage at Lindenwood University the evening of Aug. 7 at 6:30. Camp breaks on Aug. 23 following the second preseason game.


    —Just before the start of camp, the Rams signed 14-year veteran defensive tackle Hollis Thomas to a one-year contract. Thomas has been released by the Saints April 28 after failing his physical, but spent time with the Eagles when Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was Philadelphia's linebackers coach. He also played high-school football in St. Louis.

    Thomas is listed as 335 pounds, but seems well above that.

    Said Thomas, "I'm very excited to be home with Spags. When I found out they were interested, I jumped right on it. He likes hogs up front. I know I'm massive. Physically, I'm OK. I have to shed a couple pounds, get in shape; work myself to get in shape. Nothing in life is easy. This is a tough situation that you have to go through. As you get older, pound don't come off so easily."

    Asked about Thomas' potential role, Spagnuolo said, "Hollis is a guy that I have a little bit of history with and he's a big defensive tackle who's played a lot of football in the league. I've been saying it to the team, and I've been saying it to everybody, it does start up front. We'll see what he can do. He's been away from football for a little bit. We've got to remember he didn't go through OTAs so he's probably got to knock some rust off but I think he'll be fine.

    "He's always been a really good run defender. He's a very, very smart football player. The last experience I had with him he'd find ways to get everybody lined up so that was attractive to us."

    —Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who grew up in the Minneapolis area, holds a "camp" each year prior to training camp, working out intensely with other NFL players.

    Rams rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis, who also grew up there, was there for almost the entire month of July.

    Said Laurinaitis, "Larry and I have kind of known each other just from being Minnesota high school football products. There's not many of us in the NFL. ... He's just a great guy, willing to help. I wanted to go home and see my family, and to train with a world-class athlete like him was fun."

    —New center Jason Brown was somewhat graphic in describing what it's like to become comfortable with a new quarterback taking the center snap.

    Said Brown, "Mainly it's him getting to know my rear end, and him being comfortable with his hands underneath my rear end ... He's checking my oil every day.''

    Brown was previously in Baltimore where Rams backup Kyle Boller was one of the quarterbacks. Of course, when Boller takes snaps now, it's with the second-unit center.

    Added Brown, "I'm used to Kyle being under there in Baltimore. When you have a new guy back there, it's like, 'Easy buddy, be gentle.' Some guys like to really get under there and raise their hands up, and it's like, 'Hey, I'm a person.' ''

    —Owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez were on hand for the team's full-squad practice July 31. Rosenbloom left the following day, but Rodriguez and husband Lupe were on hand again Sunday.

    Their son, Will Rodriguez, is a scouting assistant for the Rams.

    —When OTAs began in May, wide receiver Keenan Burton was with the first unit, along with Donnie Avery. However, during the first week of OTAs, Burton suffered hamstring injury and didn't participate for the remainder of the spring.

    Thus, when camp opened, Laurent Robinson was a No. 1 receiver. Burton was on the second unity with Tim Carter. Last season as a rookie, Burton was bothered by a knee injury most of the season.

    He said, "Some things, you just can't help. You prepare, you work hard, you lift as hard as you possibly can. I definitely feel a need to stay healthy and be out here to compete."

    As for the hamstring problem, Burton said, "That was devastating. But I can't get frustrated ... just got to keep chipping away. It's feeling good; everything's a go. I'm trying to shake off the cobwebs, get back into it and just have fun."

    —During the one day of "short-squad" practice, rookie Chris Ogbonnaya was the only running back on the field. To give him a rest at times, backup quarterbacks Keith Null and Brock Berlin ran some plays as the running back.

    Ogbonnaya got a lot of work, and liked it.

    "Just to get that one-on-one time with coach (Sylvester) Croom is good," Ogbonnaya said. "Without all the other running backs, you can talk to him a little more. It definitely helped."

    QUOTES TO NOTE: "I knew exactly where I was going when I was a defensive coordinator. Here, I've got to kind of bounce all over the place. I was just trying to get my eyes on everything." - Coach Steve Spagnuolo on the difference in practice as a coordinator compared to being the head coach.

    —"I didn't sleep real good (last night), I'll be honest with you. You're just anxious. You remember when you were little and it was Christmas? You're waking up every hour. Honestly, that's about what it was like. I can't say it's just another day. It was exciting for me. But you know ... I just think about the next thing. Usually, it's at the end of it that I can say, 'Yeah, that was pretty special.'" - Spagnuolo on his first practice as a head coach.


    Wide receiver Derek Stanley was anxious to get going during OTAs as he recovered from ACL surgery last season, but coaches held him out of team drills.

    Stanley was good to go as camp opened, and participated in all practices, including the first two in full pads.

    He said, "The knee's great, in real good shape. It's just a matter of being able to handle the load during these two-a-days. We'll have to gauge during camp how much I'll do, where I'll back off in places. But I think I'll definitely be ready to go."

    Stanley's ticket to a roster spot is as the kickoff and punt returner, and in the early going, he is clearly the most comfortable candidate when it comes to catching punts and taking off.

    "I definitely believe I can be a big key to this team in the return game," he said.

    —WR Laurent Robinson, who was acquired in a trade from Atlanta before the draft, opened training camp as a starter. Robinson has good size and had a solid rookie season in 2007, but hardly played last year because of a hamstring injury.

    —DE Leonard Little is intent on proving he is capable of being an every-down player again. Little has missed numerous games with injuries the last two seasons and will be 35 in October. He opened camp as the starter at left end.

    —RB Kenneth Darby is currently the favorite to be the backup to Steve Jackson. Darby is a slashing-type runner that can also catch and pick up blitzes well.

    —TE Daniel Fells makes a good catch in traffic every practice. A physical specimen, Fells has a chance to be a top-level player if he can play in games the way he does in practice.

    —TE Joe Klopfenstein is in a battle for a roster spot. A second-round pick in 2006, Klopfenstein has regressed and was affected in the offseason by a wrist injury. After the first four practices he participated in, he missed the next two because of an adverse reaction to medication.

    EXPECTED BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Larry Grant, David Vobora and possibly Chris Draft for starting job at strong-side LB: For now, Draft is in the middle with the first unit, but that is expected to last only until coaches feel rookie James Laurinaitis is ready to be the starting middle linebacker. The question then is whether Draft will remain a jack-of-all-trades backup or be the experienced hand at SAM linebacker. Grant, with the *****, and Vobora with the Rams were seventh-round picks last year.

    OTHER BATTLEFRONTS: After Donnie Avery, the next four receiver spots are wide open. Tim Carter has opened some eyes, Ronald Curry is a recent addition, and Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton and Derek Stanley are also in the mix. Even guys like rookie Brooks Foster and free agents Sean Walker and Nate Jones have shown some promise early in camp.

    ROOKIE REPORT: After Jason Smith and James Laurinaitis, cornerback Bradley Fletcher (third round) has been showing his athleticism and appears to be a player. He has been counseled several times on the sideline by coach Steve Spagnuolo ... DT Darell Scott (fourth round) has been with the second unit ... WR Brooks Foster (fifth round) had an acrobatic catch in Sunday's practice ... QB Keith Null (sixth round) has a fluid throwing motion, but needs to develop confidence and keep from aiming the ball. He is competing with Brock Berlin for the No. 3 job ... RB Chris Ogbonnaya (seventh round) runs hard and will get a chance in preseason games to show what he can do.

    INJURY REPORT: G John Greco was held out of the opening practice of camp after he cramped up during the morning conditioning run. However, he was fine for the next four practices ... Tight end Joe Klopfenstein missed both practices Aug. 2 because of a reaction to medication ... CB Ron Bartell became dehydrated after the morning practice Aug. 2 and as a precaution was held out of the afternoon practice that day.

Related Topics


  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams Team Report - Aug 10
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams Team Report
    Yahoo! Sports
    12 hours, 27 minutes ago


    • It has been an emotional two weeks for new Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo.

    Preparing for his first training camp as a head coach, and then dealing with the July 28 death of former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.

    Spagnuolo, who was hired as Philadelphia’s linebackers coach in 1999 and coached there for eight years, has often referred to Johnson as his mentor.

    “His imprint is all over this,” Spagnuolo said as Rams camp opened. “Every day, he is in my thoughts. I can hear his voice, gruff and growling, every day.”

    So it was, on the ninth day of Rams camp, Spagnuolo missed the team’s morning practice so he could travel to Philadelphia for Johnson’s memorial service. The timing worked out well because he was able to get back 90 minutes prior to a previously scheduled 6:30 scrimmage.

    “It’ll be one of those days I know I’ll go back and remember for a long time,” Spagnuolo said after the scrimmage. “I think I did the right thing; I’m glad I went to see Jim. It was very, very soothing for me to see all the people that showed up. I can’t tell you the overwhelming display of love for Jim Johnson in Philadelphia.

    “There’s something to be said for having a memorial, having wakes. People need to be around each other. … I felt good about it. And I know Jim’s in a better place … luckily for me all the flights went right.”

    As for the scrimmage, many in the organization wondered about the attendance because fan presence at training camp practices has been small, mostly due to a practice facility that isn’t set up for crowds.

    Conversely, the scrimmage was at the 6,500-seat Lindenwood University field, and the team was pleasantly gratified. Attendance was estimated at 7,500 with fans standing all around the field or sitting on the grass in one of the end zones.

    Said Spagnuolo, “I want to be sure I publicly thank all of the fans here. I thought the turnout was great. That means a lot to the players. … a lot to the coaches, to the organization. Hopefully we can give just as much back with our play.”

    Added executive vice-president of football operations Kevin Demoff, “It was exciting to see people in jerseys, and here early and staying late. It was a great night for the organization. It was a good way to start off what I consider to be the preseason campaign.”

    Camp Calendar: Camp breaks Aug. 23.


    • Coach Steve Spagnuolo admitted he isn’t easy to please when it comes to performance in practice.

    He said, “I’m always going to want it better; that’s just (me). There’s lulls in there, and one of the things we’ve talked about is, we want to be (advancing), and not going up and down. If we can get rid of some of the lulls,...
    -08-10-2009, 12:44 PM
  • MauiRam
    Coach Steve Spagnuolo on Day One ..
    by MauiRam
    Posted >Tue, May 18, 2010 03:15
    by Nick Wagoner

    - Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo discussed a variety of topics after Tuesday's practice. Here's the transcript from that conversation.

    (Opening remarks)
    “Let me hit you with injuries. Roger Allen didn’t practice. You know about him. Danny Fells, that’s from the end of the season. You guys know about Steven (Jackson) and Chris Massey. Jacob Bell was the one that was not out there. Last week, Monday or Tuesday during our running program, (he had) a little issue with his knee. He had an MRI, so they did a scope on it today. Now he’ll probably miss four to six weeks, which means he won’t be in the OTA’s but he’ll be fine for training camp. So the thought was get it taken care of so we’re okay for training camp. Everybody else was either limited or participated full. I thought they got after it pretty good. The Good Lord cooperated with the weather, and it was just great to be out here. Having said that, I’ll open it up.”

    (On Bell’s specific injury)
    “It’s a knee, I can’t remember whether it was left or right. The way it was explained to me was there were just loose bodies in there. He’s had…I think prior, before he came here he had an issue with it, and it was more of a cleanup than anything else. But it was bothering him and we figured we’d do it now.”

    (On Steven Jackson’s timetable)
    “We’re hoping to get some OTA’s at the end, but not going to push anything. We’re going to tread lightly. He’s done great. He’s been out there, he’s been in the pool, he’s been rehabbing. He’s done everything you can do except for be out here and do the football, but we’ll basically, I hate to sound redundant, but we’ll go day to day on that.”

    (On if Jackson will be ready for contact by training camp)
    “That’s what we anticipate, yeah.”

    (On if Jackson hoped rest alone would help his back recover)
    “It was one of those things you hope you go… I think we’d all want to do that, and it has worked that way before. It just didn’t work this time, so he had a procedure done.”

    (On Bradley Fletcher’s status)
    “I don’t think I mentioned Bradley. He’s a limited guy right now, so he was out there doing some individual but didn’t do any of the team stuff. So he doesn’t get in anything competitive. But he’s just starting to do change of direction and hopeful that… I can’t really say that. I don’t know where he’ll be for training camp. We’ll just wait and see.”

    (On how WR Brooks Foster is coming along)
    “Great. I’ll tell you what, he’s had a tremendous offseason. I told him the other day he just looks like a different person. He just looks like a different man. These guys come here young looking out of college, but he looks like a man to me. I can’t tell you how he did today, just I can’t see all of it, but I thought he had a great offseason so...
    -05-18-2010, 11:05 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams Team Report - Aug 24
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams Team Report
    Yahoo! Sports
    Aug 24, 4:19 am EDT


    It seemed like just another transaction when the Rams acquired wide receiver Laurent Robinson(notes) in a trade with Atlanta before the draft.

    The two teams swapped positions in the fifth and sixth rounds, and Robinson immediately began working to prove to the Falcons they made a mistake by giving up on him.

    Last Friday night, Robinson caught five passes for 65 yards against his former team, and appears to be a lock to start when the season opens Sept. 13 in Seattle.

    Robinson opened OTAs as the No. 3 receiver, then moved up to the first unit when Keenan Burton(notes) suffered a hamstring injury. He opened camp as a starter, and with Donnie Avery(notes) sidelined by a broken bone in his foot, Robinson has become the go-to receiver for both Marc Bulger(notes) and Kyle Boller(notes).

    He had a 50-yard catch from Bulger in the first preseason game, and one for 25 yards from Boller in the second game. In two games, he has seven receptions for 117 yards and has been the target on 10 passes.

    “I feel good,” Robinson said. “I’m just working hard every day in practice, going out there trying to be the best I can be every day, listening to the coach; I mean, and just being coachable and going out there and executing. The offense is great, I’m very confident and comfortable in it, and hopefully I can just continue on in the regular season.

    “It’s a great opportunity here for me. Hopefully I can just step right in, make some plays, and help the team win anyway I can whether that’s by running, blocking, or catching the ball.”

    Robinson acknowledged struggling when he arrived in St. Louis, having to learn a new offense. But he didn’t waste his time in the six weeks after OTAs ended, and training camp began.

    “I went home and I just trained and just got my confidence back,” Robinson said, “After the trade I guess I wasn’t really all that focused. Now I got my focus back and my confidence up and I’m ready to play.

    “I’m just getting a lot more comfortable playing and making catches. In the OTAs I wasn’t doing so well but now I’m just a lot more comfortable and confident so things are going well for me.”

    Coach Steve Spagnuolo likes what he sees.

    “I see a competitive guy,” Spagnuolo said. “When he first got here in the spring like a lot of guys, he was feeling his way through. It was a new team, it was a new system, but I thought he played really well (Friday) night. It was easy to see that.”


    • Falcons running back Michael Turner(notes) picked up right where he left off against the Rams in the second preseason game. In the final game of the regular...
    -08-25-2009, 12:15 AM
  • BEER
    Great article.
    by BEER
    Training camp - news


    Posted about 19 hours ago
    22 Comments 1 Recommendation E-mail

    With Spagnuolo at the helm, Rams embrace physical style of play

    By Steve Wyche |
    Senior Writer

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- It's nearly a week into training camp, when players start to wear down as the physical and mental overload start to grab hold. After reading and hearing about how hard first-year coach Steve Spagnuolo was pushing the team, it wouldn't have been surprising to see the Rams simply grind through things Thursday. And with a scrimmage on Friday, watching guys on cruise control was what I expected. So did Spagnuolo.
    "I was waiting for it," he said.
    Instead, the Rams staged one of the most aggressive, fast-paced, physical practices I've seen in years. There was non-stop live tackling, full-bore hitting in nearly every drill and a tempo that forced every player and coach to be attentive because, at any moment, Spagnuolo could call for a special teams intervention.
    "How can you tell if a guy can tackle? How can you tell if a running back can break a tackle," Spagnuolo said about putting his team through "live" workouts.
    The interesting thing, players seemed to embrace the demanding workload.
    "Spags is trying to change this whole mentality," rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "This will be a physical team. We're not just going to talk it. We're going to go out there and do it and practice what we preach. If you're not going to be able to be physical, you're not going to be here."
    Photo gallery

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    Working in Spagnuolo's favor is the fact that the Rams are such a young group, most players don't realize that the majority of teams don't get after it consistently the way St. Louis has in training camp. There are 23 players on the 80-man roster who are 23 or younger. There are only four players over 30.
    Besides establishing a physical tone, Spagnuolo said he believes players need to hit early in training camp because starters play so little in the preseason.
    "I've always believed that if you don't get it done at some point, you'll be behind when the season starts," Spagnuolo said.
    "Spags, he is definitely challenging us," said center Jason Brown, who signed as a free agent from Baltimore....
    -08-07-2009, 02:25 PM
  • eldfan
    Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    As the regular season begins, and with the division-rival Seattle Seahawks on the horizon, coach Steve Spagnuolo knows the team's 3-1 preseason record doesn't count for much.
    "I'm perfectly aware that all of this is a honeymoon period," he said. "The real challenge is upcoming.

    "It's nice to be 3-1 after the preseason, but like I told the players, the score counted when we played the games. It doesn't matter now. We're moving on. We came in and did what we thought as a group were the right things to do. But the real test is the regular season, winning and losing."

    Even though Spagnuolo realizes building this team's roster in his image is a work in progress, he does like the team's mindset so far.

    He said, "I think we've got a bunch of hungry guys. I think it's good to be hungry. It's a hungry football team that wants to be a team. We've talked a lot about it and I think the guys have embraced it. At least their actions and the attitudes and what comes out verbally says that to me. So if we can rally around that, that would be good."

    Asked what he expects from his team, Spagnuolo said, "In a nutshell, I want a focused, disciplined, tough football team. We have certain measurements that we have after games that measure that focus, discipline and toughness. I blurt them out after every game and let them know if we met them. I think the team is starting to embrace that, too. We talk about it all the time."

    "If you're a physically tough team, you're able to run the ball and stop the run."

    Said guard Richie Incognito, "That's the identity we're trying to create. Physical up front, and get the running game going ... The coaches are calling it up, dialing it up and they're keeping it coming. We're pumped up, we're excited."

    Former Rams coach Dick Vermeil would often say a coach "has to be believed to be heard." Spagnuolo sees a team that is listening and accepting leadership.

    "That means a great deal," he said. "I thanked them the other night (before the final preseason game). The night before the game for what they did. Back in the offseason program, right through training camp, it was a new training camp. It was a different hotel and we're here. New staff, new this or that, and they didn't skip a beat. They really bought into it."

    How much will the team improve from a two-win season? While Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney know there is a lot of work to do, they aren't willing to accept just minimal improvement.

    "I don't think anybody here is saying, 'Boy, if we just double our win total, we'll be happy about that,'" Devaney said. "If we win four games, then we still stink.

    "We're thinking we have a pretty good team. How fast it meshes and comes together, we're...
    -09-11-2009, 06:59 AM