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The 2010 Rams are here: Offseason Workouts

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  • The 2010 Rams are here: Offseason Workouts

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    The School of Rock is back in session.

    After a two-month break from all things football, the Rams re-convened at the Russell Training Center on Monday for the start of the offseason conditioning program under the guidance of strength and conditioning coaches Rock Gullickson and Chuck Faucette.
    For head coach Steve Spagnuolo, having the players back in town signaled new beginnings.

    “It’s now the 2010 St. Louis Rams and it really begins today,” Spagnuolo said.

    Upon their arrival back in St. Louis for the start of the program, the assembled players were broken up into groups pending position and size. But before the dumb bells were touched, Spagnuolo took an opportunity to assemble his team and pass along an important message.

    “Every day has got to be a new day, no matter what,” defensive end Chris Long said. “Coach Spags talks about erasing the past so that’s what we as players kind of have to do whether it was good or bad we have to erase it and go forward. Certainly we can reflect on some of the things we learned but as far as we are concerned we are 0-0 just like every other team.”

    So it was that any memory of the 2009 season was officially wiped away by Spagnuolo and the Rams on Monday morning as they begin anew in preparation for the 2010 season.
    For the better part of the past two and a half months, Rams players went their separate ways. Some went home to be with family and friends. Some took vacations and everyone recharged their battery for the first step toward next season.

    Linebacker James Laurinaitis went on the “Buckeyes Cruise for Cancer,” an annual trip featuring prominent former Ohio State athletes, that raised more than $400,000 for the Stephanie Spielman cancer awareness fund.
    Laurinaitis also got a new dog and spent most of his time working out in Columbus with former Ohio State teammates.

    “I feel kind of useless if I’m not working out or doing something,” Laurinaitis said.

    Receiver Donnie Avery went home to his family and friends in Houston. After taking about a week to clear his mind and rest his body, he set about the task of getting himself into prime shape for what he hopes will be a breakout third season.
    Avery spent his time working out with fellow NFLers such as Casey Hampton and Shaun Rogers in the Houston area with the goal of adding weight to his frame.

    In 2009, Avery played at about 184 pounds but says he gave up eating red meat, added more vitamins and chicken to his diet and gained about 14 pounds with an eye toward becoming a more durable player.
    “Coach told me he wanted me to come back healthier and stronger and heavier,” Avery said. “I think I’m getting bigger, eating healthier and working harder in the weight room and it should help get rid of some of those injuries I’ve had.”

    That’s just a small sample of what the Rams have been doing on their individual breaks but the days of working out on their own have now passed.
    For the next 14 weeks, these players will be attacking the offseason with a few goals in mind.

    There are, of course, plenty of tangible benefits such as the basics of getting bigger, stronger and faster on the football field. But perhaps there is no benefit greater than the intangible one that goes with the team building that can happen during the offseason.
    From the time of his arrival in St. Louis, Spagnuolo has emphasized the virtues of building chemistry in the locker room. That doesn’t happen overnight and it starts on days like Monday.

    “I think the tightest bonds are formed in the offseason program without the pressures of winning and losing, without the pressure of another game coming up,” Spagnuolo said. “There’s a lot more time they can spend with each other outside of football which I think is good.”

    A typical day in the offseason program isn’t nearly as strenuous as a regular season day. Players report to the Russell Training Center and spend about four hours at the facility each day.

    In that time, they are allowed only a certain amount of time with the coaches where they can work on football-related things. That includes watching film, getting a refresher on the playbook or even getting a feel for some of the new things that are being added in 2010.

    When that part is done, the focus shifts to Gullickson and Faucette, who have tailored workouts to each player with an eye toward maximizing their performance on the field.

    “Rock wants us to be like him when we grow up,” Avery said, laughing.

    “He’s a typical strength coach but he goes over and beyond to make sure you are at your peak so you can perform. He has a couple of new things this year to try to get the best of our abilities.”

    Gullickson and Faucette work hard to ensure there are new and different aspects to the workouts to help keep the players’ interest and keep up with trends in the field. That also includes working with new head athletic trainer Reggie Scott on rehabilitation methods so that everyone is on the same page.

    Spagnuolo says that a good majority of the injured players from last season have already been cleared to participate in the program and the few that haven’t are well on their way in rehabilitation.

    “There’s only a few of them that are not at the rehab standpoint where they can be transitioned right into the actual strength program,” Spagnuolo said. “But for the most part, they will do whatever they can.”
    From a coaching perspective, it’s just nice to have the players back in the building.

    “Getting up this morning was a little bit easier,” Spagnuolo said. “I am ready to get up every morning when the alarm goes off anyway but I had the Christmas Day feel to see all those faces again. I like it when the players are around. That’s when you feel like a football team. There is no team without the players. They need their time away but it’s great to have them around.”

    In the next three months or so, the Rams will gradually increase the workload. After the draft, the team will have a rookie minicamp at the end of April with organized team activities set to begin in May.
    There will be a full squad minicamp in June with OTAs wrapping up the offseason program around the middle of that month.

    Between now and then, plenty will happen as new faces are added to the mix and new ideas kicked around by the coaches. But the process of becoming a better team has only just begun.

    “I think you’re anxious, excited to get going,” Laurinaitis said. “It’s exciting to see what these guys are going to do. I think we have a lot of good players on our team and I think that we are a young squad overall so the most important thing for us is that the young guys we have get better. That’s the thing. Each individual has to make himself that much better. It’s fun to be back in a team setting working with them, challenging and competing. That’s what it’s all about.”

    --So it begins.....

  • #2
    Re: The 2010 Rams are here: Offseason Workouts

    2010 Rams. I like the sound of that.

    Lets put our past behind us and look forward to the future.


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      Offseason Program Pushes Rams Forward
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      Wearing a black “Fahgeddaboutit” kitchen apron Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and coordinators Ken Flajole, Pat Shurmur and Tom McMahon served up a special lunch on Monday afternoon.
      That quartet formed the wait staff for “Maria’s Café,” an impromptu Italian restaurant set up in the back lobby of the Russell Training Center and run by the coach’s wife, head chef Maria Spagnuolo.
      Twelve players were able to partake in the extensive menu, which included meatballs, lasagna, friend chicken, baby back ribs and a variety of other dishes. And though the spirit of the event was done in fun, it was actually a reward for many hours of sweat given over the past couple of months in the team’s offseason conditioning program.
      “I think it’s good for the guys to see the coordinators and head coach serve them,” Steve Spagnuolo said. “That added a little twist to it and I get to see my wife on a Monday. And they can pick on the waiters so it worked out pretty good.”
      After a major makeover to their weight room and offseason conditioning program brought on by strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson was a big hit with Rams players last year, the Rams continued to look for ways to build on the bonds formed in last year’s program.
      Technically, the offseason conditioning program – which began on March 15 – is optional. But you’d never know it from the amount of participation the Rams have had during the past month and a half.
      Spagnuolo estimates that the Rams are right in the range of 90 percent participation among the players on the roster, not far off from the number they posted last year. The few that haven’t been around have been working out on their own, have been in and out because of other commitments or recovering from injury.
      “I think it’s been great,” linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “Guys have been getting in here and working hard and this is a big part of what we do. I’m a big believer in the saying that failure to prepare is preparing to fail. I think everyone has come in and done a great job.”
      Before last year, the Rams’ weight program underwent a major overhaul under Gullickson and assistant strength coach Chuck Faucette. That included a complete revamp of the weight room itself as well as a shift in philosophy.

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      "For 16 weeks this year, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has had a laser-like focus on one thing and one thing only: the next game.
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      When Spagnuolo woke up Monday morning, though, he was left with the sobering realization that there won’t be another game to plan for until the start of the 2010 season, months and months away.
      “I wish we were getting ready to play another game,” Spagnuolo said. “I just want to play another game. When you lose, you crave and you hunger for the next opportunity to win. I talked about this a lot during the year. There’s nothing like being in a locker room of an NFL team after winning just because of everything that goes into it during the week and what the guys do together, just the craving for that feeling. Unfortunately, we will have to wait however many months that is to get that feeling again.”
      So it is that Spagnuolo and the rest of the Rams have already turned the page on the 2009 season and begun their preparations for the next step. Those steps include preparing for the start of the free agent period, scouting and evaluating college prospects and then making the first selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.
      But before any of that can happen, the Rams will review what happened in 2009 and glean as many lessons as possible from what happened to improve their performance on the field in 2010.
      To each man in the Rams’ locker room, those lessons were different but the overlying theme remains the same.
      “Through all of the adversity we went through, unless I am missing something, the team, there wasn’t anybody jumping ship, pointing fingers, going off the deep end and that is a credit to them,” Spagnuolo said. “To me, that is the biggest thing.”
      Indeed, through the difficulties that inherently come with a 1-15 season, it would have been easy for any player or coach to go off the reservation and explode be it in the media, on the field or anywhere else.
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    • RamWraith
      Rams Turn Toward Minicamp, Draft
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      Friday, March 27, 2009

      By Nick Wagoner
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      With April and the NFL Draft closing fast, the Rams are turning their attention away from free agency and the events of March and toward the annual selection process.

      But before getting in to all of that, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and his coaching staff is about to get its first look at the players already on the roster on a real, actual football field.

      That has been a long time coming for Spagnuolo, who after he was hired on Jan. 17. The Rams are less than a week away from the first of three minicamps with Spagnuolo at the helm.

      The first opportunity comes Thursday when the team opens a three day minicamp that will involve all of the players currently on the roster.

      Although it won’t be the best way to determine what he has, it will give Spagnuolo and staff the opportunity to see players up close in a semi-competitive environment.

      “I still think and I truly believe this – to me I really kind of hold any kind of judgment until you can actually get on the field and work with them,” Spagnuolo said at last month’s scouting combine. “That’s the true tell. I will take it even further, even though we are about to go through the mini camps and the OTAs, you can learn a certain amount of things in those practices but let’s remember the game is played with pads on and it’s a violent game so you can’t really make those decisions until then. This is a long process and we just take it step by step and draw our conclusions at the end of it.”

      The first step in building the team – or as Spagnuolo likes to call it “laying the foundation” began about two weeks ago when the team kicked off its offseason conditioning program.

      Attendance at those sessions has been almost perfect with the lone exceptions of running back Steven Jackson (who was excused the first few days for the birth of his child) and receiver Derek Stanley (who is still recovering from a serious knee injury). Jackson returned last week and participated in every workouts since.

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      With a new staff in place, players got a crash course in the new way of doing things under Spagnuolo, including a more free-weight, core body emphasis in the weight room courtesy of new strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson.

      “The first couple of days you could see a change in his approach,” cornerback Ron Bartell said. “Overall, I think guys are just really excited. You can’t get overly excited yet because the season’s so far away, but guys really have something to look forward to this year. Guys have different reasons and there are certain things...
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      Having same systems on offense and defense benefits learning process

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      Fans want big splashes in free agency and big names added to the roster in the offseason, but Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo is counting on something else that will lead to improvement for the 2010 season.

      When a roster is as young as the Rams, significant progress from those younger players is mandatory. And, a large part of that comes from the comfort level of players being in the same system for the second consecutive year.

      Consider that for all the players drafted in 2008, most notably defensive end Chris Long and wide receiver Donnie Avery, any advancement they experienced during their rookie season was immediately negated by having to learn a new system last year when Spagnuolo was hired.

      “It’s a whole different feeling,” Avery said of this offseason, compared to the last two. “Knowing the nuances of the offense, how to get open. You’re just more comfortable, and can just play without thinking all the time.”

      Defensively, Spagnuolo can already see the difference after just four OTA sessions.

      “There’s a huge comfort level there,” Spagnuolo said. “I felt that, and I actually jotted something down on my notes here that we’re certainly ahead of where we were last year defensively with the communication and getting things set and people feeling comfortable. Defenses are reactionary, so when you eliminate the learning curve of thinking instead of reacting, you usually play better defense. They play faster, so I think we’re getting there.”

      Workaholic middle linebacker James Laurinaitis is settling into his second season, and now can focus on refining rather than learning all he had to call the defensive signals as a rookie. Laurinaitis is not someone that enjoys down time.

      When asked about Laurinaitis wanting to get back to work almost as soon as the season ended, Spagnuolo said, “He must have texted me 10 times in that period when they were off saying, ‘Is there something I can do? Send me film. What do you need me to do?’ I mean, he’s itching to go. He’s everything you see.”

      Noting the difference from last year at this time to now, cornerback Ron Bartell said, "It's like night and day. Me and the guys were talking about how we feel so much different from last year's OTAs to this year's OTAs. We're just playing a lot faster--a lot more crisp. Hopefully, it translates into the games when the real bullets start to fly. But as of right now it's like night and day."
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      -05-27-2010, 09:36 AM
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      Road to Winning Starts in Weight Room
      by MauiRam
      By Nick Wagoner
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      Before anything can happen on the football field and the organized team activities turn into minicamps which eventually give way to training camp and ultimately the regular season, the real offseason starts in a 6,000 square-foot weight and training room.

      It is within the confines of that room where football players and football teams are made. It’s where the difference between making the tackle in the fourth quarter and having that extra step for a deep go route can be made.

      For the Rams, like any other team in the NFL, the offseason begins here. In this room at the Russell Training Center, lined up in precise fashion, barbells are raised and dropped, dumb bells clang off the ground after another set and the steady sound of a primal scream reverberates from the walls as another player finishes a particularly hard repetition.

      As another offseason training and conditioning program comes and goes, the Rams have seen plenty of change in the way business is done in this room. It’s a change they hope will help translate into bigger, faster, stronger players that will help them do what every team wants to do at this time of year: win more football games.


      Overseeing it all is strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson and his assistant Chuck Faucette.

      When the Rams hired Steve Spagnuolo as head coach in January, they parted ways with former strength coach Dana LeDuc. Like with any other spot on his staff, Spagnuolo carefully scanned the possibilities to run the show in the weight room.

      That search led him to Gullickson, whose name alone could give you a pretty good idea of what he does for an occupation.

      “You just think about that name and what he will bring to the weight room,” cornerback Tye Hill said. “He’s just the Rock.”

      Named after Rocky Marciano, the only undefeated heavyweight champion in boxing history, Gullickson came to St. Louis with quite the resume.

      This season will be Gullickson’s 10th in the NFL. Most recently he was the strength coach at Green Bay from 2006-2008. He was named the NFL Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in 2007 for his work with the Packers. Before Green Bay, he held the same position with the Saints from 2000-2005.

      Gullickson began coaching at Moorhead State, Minnesota, in 1978. He also had stops at Maryville State, North Dakota; Montana State, Rutgers, Texas, and Louisville before going to the NFL.

      Upon his arrival in St. Louis, it didn’t take Gullickson long to earn the trust and respect of his players.

      “Rock has been great for me personally,” cornerback Ron Bartell said. “The first couple of days you could see a change in his approach. Overall, I think guys are just really excited. You can’t get overly excited yet because the...
      -05-23-2009, 10:05 AM