- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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EARTH CITY, Mo. – In what has been a shockingly mild summer, the target for what constitutes a hot day in St. Louis has shifted dramatically.
In a normal St. Louis training camp, August temperatures generally hover in the 100-degree range with unbearable humidity. Perhaps it’s Mother Nature’s way of making it up to the city for the numerous dangerous storms that rolled through in the spring, but whatever the reason, the Rams have enjoyed a training camp severely lacking in oppressive heat.
So when the Rams put the pads on and temperatures rose to the upper 80s Tuesday afternoon, the feisty attitudes that normally have long since boiled over began to spill out on the practice field.
The result was the most “spirited” practice of this training camp, with multiple scuffles breaking out.
“Occasionally in camp those things happen,” head coach Jeff Fisher said. “It’s kind of one of those deals. I think most of you at some point said, ‘Gosh, this is amazing weather for training camp.’ But today it got a little warm and they had pads on and that’s what happened. That’s good. We need to work through that.”
The most notable scrum happened early in team drills when linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar and tight end Jared Cook got tangled up. Dunbar didn’t take kindly to being knocked down and defensive end Chris Long swooped in to help his teammate.
Cook’s helmet popped off but the group was quickly separated.
There were a few other scuffles throughout practice, too, including a mix-up when linebacker Daren Bates appeared to hit running back Benny Cunningham a bit late and tackle Joe Barksdale jumped in to protect his running back.
Fisher doesn’t mind when his team shows that passion so long as it doesn’t go too far and, considering that the weather hasn’t allowed for some of the chippiness that usually accompanies camp, he said he was OK with what took place Tuesday.
“You don’t want anybody to get hurt and all that kind of stuff,” Fisher said. “They jumped in there and they have more fun pulling it apart than they do mixing it up and that’s fine. We have just got to focus on the football.”
More Tuesday practice notes
Right tackle Rodger Saffold made some progress toward a return from his dislocated left shoulder. He participated in individual drills but isn’t yet ready to jump into team work.
Rookie safety T.J. McDonald did get back to work after sitting Monday because of a knee ailment. He was back with the first group for some but not all of team drills. He did come up with an interception near the goal line in 7-on-7s.
Receiver Austin Pettis had his second strong day in a row. He made a difficult one-handed grab with just his left hand over cornerback Cortland Finnegan in the corner of the end zone during one on ones.
The Rams officially released backup tight end Cameron Graham.
Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen was shaken up late in practice when he collided awkwardly with Bates. He walked it off and Fisher indicated he’d be OK.