Today’s post is from a guest writer named Robert Goulet who has been a Rams fan for many, many years. Soon he will be joining Ramblin’ Fan as a regular contributor, but, for today, he would like to share his story about attending training camp and give his report of what he saw with his own two eyes. Not many fans get to attend an actual training camp practice, so it is with great pleasure that I introduce the Ramblin’ Fan audience to Rob and his firsthand recollection of Rams training camp. Enjoy…
Sorry for posting this so late. We left Hartford for St. Louis at 6:00 am on Thursday, which meant a 4:00 am wake up call. The upside to that is that we arrived right on time at 9:20 am, before the storm rolled in that afternoon and delayed several flights. The downside, by 1:00 in the afternoon I was ready for a nap and it was an early, “bed I hear you calling” night.
Weather wise, it was a great day…warm and not too humid…in St. Louis on Thursday until about 2:55 in the afternoon. Approximately 30 minutes before practice was to begin.
Unfortunately, as I headed to practice, the skies opened up and what started as a light, steady rain, turned into a sideways rain with heavy winds, thunder and lightning. At one point, a tent set up outside Rams Park was uprooted and rolled over the cars in the parking lot like a giant tumbleweed…metal poles and all. Luckily, my “beautiful” 2012 rental Versa made it through unscathed. But, it was a worst case scenario for practice watching and I was expecting bad news when I got there.
The lobby at Ram Park was packed with various guests, family members and VIPs…all waiting for news on practice. A friend of mine informed me that practice was indeed being moved inside and would be delayed about 20 minutes, but not to worry as I was invited in. Good times.
This was my first time watching an indoor practice so I was pretty psyched to get in there. The good news about an indoor practice is that it’s a more confined area and you’re able to get closer to the action. The bad news is that there’s action going on everywhere in that confined space and your head is constantly on a swivel trying to take everything in. Another issue, they keep the visitors in one “end zone” (it’s only an 80 yard field and there really is only one end zone…but we were standing where the second would be on a real field). Because we’re looking down the length of the field, sight lines are sometimes blocked by those practicing in front of you and it is hard to see what going on down at the other end. All that being said, it was still great to be here.
The first thing I did, as players were strolling out onto the field, was to scan the area for VIPs. I’m a big fan of Jim Hanifan and he’s usually hanging out at Rams park. He’s incredibily entertaining to chat with so I was a little disappointed when he didn’t show. Those that did include Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC, Howard Balzer, Torry Holt, D’Marco Farr, Bryan Burwell and former Saints great, WR Danny Abramowicz (what is it with wide receivers and the initials D.A. at Rams park?). If you’re a fan of NFL Films “Football Follies”, you’ll remember Abramowicz from when he was forced out of bounds and head butted a television camera. Not intentionally…Gus Frerotte style…accidently…because he had no choice. It was there.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this isn’t your normal camp report. I tend to take in the whole experience and I spent a lot of time talking to others at practice. When the OL is practicing directly in front of you, they tend to eclipse the rest of the field. You can only stare at sweaty 300 pound butts for so long before you look for other entertainment. But here’s what I was able to glean from my first ever, indoor Rams practice…
Reports having Center Scott Wells close to returning seem overly optimistic to me. I saw him do nothing but watch on Thursday. And halfway through watching, two trainers came over and wrapped his knee in ice. I never even saw him wearing a helmet. He’s also a lot smaller than I expected. His listed as being 3 inches shorter than Guard Harvey Dahl…6’2″ to Dahl’s 6’5″. But side by side, the top of Well’s head is at Dahl’s shoulder. There’s at least a six inch differential.
The offense did a lot of their work at the far end of the field. I saw Brian Quick make a few nice catches. Nothing particularly long, but it appears the light is coming on for him. Bradford went deep three times in this practice. All three went to number 13, Kurt Warner….errr Chris Givens. And all three fell incomplete. It’s obvious to me that Givens will be our deep threat this year as they didn’t even attempt a deep pass to anyone else. Of course, Danario Alexander didn’t practice and he fills that role as well. But the vibe I got from those I spoke with is that he has a long way to go to make this team.
One long shot who did impress me was Nick Johnson, the undrafted free agent out of football powerhouse, Henderson State. He’s fast, always seems to be open and caught everything when I was watching. I don’t think any of our wide receivers are invincible, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him sneak onto the roster.
I went into this training camp thinking Steve Smith had little chance to stick. I couldn’t feel more differently now. He’s one of the few guys we have that looks like an NFL wide receiver on a consistent basis. He’s head and shoulders (if not literally) over every other guy when it comes to “looking the part”. Danny Amendola is, of course Danny Amendola. May be our most reliable target. But if you’re looking for more than nine yards, you looking in the wrong direction.
I was a little disappointed in Greg Salas. I didn’t see him do anything to distinguish himself. Dare I say he was invisible? It was only one practice and maybe he was lighting it up when I wasn’t looking…but I was hoping for a lot from him this season and I’m not really seeing it three weeks into camp.
The Rams are going to throw to Steven Jackson (and the RBs in general) a lot. I saw many passes go to both Jackson and Pead. Jackson caught everything. Pead did not. Jackson was his usual beast running with the ball, but the players were in shells and the contact was light so it’s easy for an offensive player to look good. That being said…we have no worries about Jackson hitting the wall this season. He looks great.
The Rams ran two minute drills with both Bradford and Clemens at QB. Neither scored and I’d be surprised if Clemens even got the team within the 35 yard line. I’m a little concerned about our back up QB situation. I can’t help but look at the Dallas Cowboys with Kyle Orton and get a little jealous. If we have to rely on Clemens for any length of time, things could get rough. He holds on to the ball way too long and then just throws it in areas he shouldn’t. He nearly got picked on two throws in the two minute drill. Bradford moved the team down the field methodically with the usual dinks and dunks but I believe time ran out before they punched it in. As the first teams ran off the field, the defense seemed to be happier than the offense.
All the reports of Janoris Jenkins looking like a savvy veteran are true. He already looks like one of our best players. If he lives a good life off the field, he will quickly become one of the games best CBs in my opinion.
Random odds and ends…
Greg Zuerlein hit a 50 yard field goal that went through about halfway up the uprights. It probably would’ve been good from 60.
William Hayes went down with what looked like a knee injury. He was down for a couple minutes then walked gingerly to the sideline where he received treatment.
Third string QB Tom Brandstater has the skinniest legs I have ever seen on a man, never mind professional football player. I saw absolutely no sign of leg muscles. He looked like he was spawned from the mating of a flamingo and Seamus from The Family Guy. I’ll give you all some time to Google Image “Seamus Family Guy”.
Be back later…It’s a beautiful pre-Fall day out there and I’m going out to enjoy it.