With weather conditions ideal, the St. Louis Rams held practice sessions with pads during the week as training camp kicked into high gear.
Wednesday’s 2 1/2-hour practice session featured players wearing shoulder pads, helmets and shorts.
“It wasn’t our best practice, but you’re going to have one of those every once in a while,” said Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher. “You’ve got to push through it and correct it and explain to them how important every rep is.”
The Rams will hold a practice and scrimmage Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome at 12:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Practice sessions have centered around breaking into groups (by position) and working on drills, along with special teams, seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 competition.
“Our drills, they’re basic drills,” Fisher said. “They’re close line drills. They’re not a lot of distance, not a high impact. It’s more about technique.”
During the Wednesday workout, the announced attendance at Rams Park was 1,125.
Fans had the chance to watch some of the Rams’ new offensive talent, including tight end Jared Cook.
“When you have a tight end that you’re able to move out wide and he can run wide receiver routes, you can do so many more things. A defense has to prepare for so many different sets and different route combinations,” said Rams quarterback Sam Bradford “When Cook’s in the game, it’s not like he’s going to line up in the traditional tight end spot every time. We can flex him out wide. He can play in the slot. It really forces the defense to think a lot. It just allows us to open up a whole other part of the playbook.”
Cook, 6-5 and 254 pounds, should be a major weapon this season.
“You need big targets down the field. What you’re looking for in an ideal situation is a big target that can run, but that can also help in the run game on the edge,” Fisher said. “When Jared is in there, we’re still able to run it. We’re balanced, and then because of his down field threat, it pushes the defense further down the field.”
Two more newcomers in the offense are rookies Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Both played at the University of West Virginia, and both can run.
“Tavon’s playing really well right now. We’re asking him to do a lot. We’re moving him around quite a bit, putting him outside and in the slot, but he’s handled everything very well,” Bradford said. “He’s really exciting when he gets the ball in his hands. We’re all excited about that and hopefully he just continues to improve.”
The Rams will have speed to burn at the receiver and running back positions.
“I think if you look at it from a speed standpoint, it’s easy to say that this is the fastest group of skill players that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Bradford said.
The Rams hope second-year receiver Brian Quick makes big contributions.
“Last year when he came in, he was learning something totally new,” Fisher said of Quick. “This year he came in and there was a lot more recall. He’s a lot more comfortable. He’s not necessarily thinking as much.”
Bradford likes what he’s seen from Quick in camp.
“We all got really excited (Tuesday) with his physicality. There was a run play and he came in and cracked the WIL linebacker and put him on the ground. A couple plays later, he was run blocking a corner and he threw him on the ground,” Bradford said. “There was another catch where he used his body and went over a guy and it’s just really nice to see that from Quick because he has all the physical ability in the world. To see him finally using his strength and his size is a really good sign.”
Second-year receiver Chris Givens made an impact with the Rams last year. Austin Pettis also is back on the team.
Barrett Jones, a rookie who was the starting center on Alabama’s national championship team last season, will provide depth on the Rams’ offensive line.
Jones also played guard and tackle while with the Crimson Tide.
“He’s got the ability to move around and play different positions, but we’ve got him locked into the one position right now at center,” Fisher said of Jones. “He’s done well. He’s got a ways to go, but right now we think he’s better suited at center and kind of a backup at the other positions.”
With Steven Jackson now in Atlanta, the running back position is one of the biggest question marks heading into the season.
Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead are the leading candidates for the starting job.
Second-year player Terrance Ganaway (Baylor) and rookie Zac Stacy (Vanderbilt) also are in the mix.
“There’s a lot of guys who are going to get playing time and are going to get touches,” Bradford said. “I’ve been very impressed with both Daryl and Isaiah. I think they have done a tremendous job so far. They’ve grown up a ton since last year and I’m really excited to watch them play this year.
“Zac’s doing a great job, too. I’ve been very impressed with his ability to pick up blitzes. For young guys, that’s a part of the game that a lot of guys struggle with and he seems to do a really good job with that.”
Bradford likes the way the Rams look so far in training camp.
“It’s been really good so far. We’ve been really crisp up to this point. I think the challenge for us going forward is that we keep installing and so we keep adding to the playbook. Some of the younger guys, just to keep hammering the stuff that we’ve already done and then try to stay up with the new stuff,” Bradford said. “The coolest thing for me is that we’re so much further ahead than we have been in the past. It’s pretty exciting as a quarterback because it’s way advanced compared to where we were at this point last year.”