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Thoughts, observations from Rams practice

6/4/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- The first 500 words that came to mind after watching the Rams practice on a bright, sunscreen-recommended morning at Rams Park:

  • It's quiet out there. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said they've installed about 60 percent of the defense. There's a lot to learn. I was with the 49ers this week and they have a veteran defense playing in the same system. There was lots of chatter. Here, the coaches are the ones you hear, not players.

  • Saw a pass slip through Joe Klopfenstein's hands. One play during a June minicamp isn't going to determine much, but Klopfenstein can't afford to give the Rams any additional reasons to part with him.

  • First-round choice Jason Smith looks the part. They're working him at backup left tackle. Alex Barron is still the favorite to start there. Smith will presumably start on the right side and eventually move to the left side. Spagnuolo said he believes in making the rookies earn it. That's why James Laurinaitis remains buried on the depth chart. Expect both to start this season. The Rams are too young to leave their best young players on the bench.

  • Adam Carriker is healthy and it's making a difference. He looks quicker. Spagnuolo's defense features left and right defensive tackles. They've got Carriker working at left tackle only. He'll move from the nose to the three-technique spot depending on what the offense does. Carriker thinks there's benefit to settling on one position -- left tackle -- and staying there all season.

  • The offense might be new to the Rams' offensive players, but it's familiar to the rest of the division. It's a West Coast-style system with West Coast terminology. Coaches called out the same personnel-group names Mike Holmgren's staff used in Seattle. Calls of "zebra" had nothing to do with the officials in striped shirts monitoring practice. That's the West Coast call for one back, one tight end and three receivers.

  • Why haven't the Rams done more to shore up the situations at receiver and running back? They're tight against the cap and evaluating younger players. It appears as though they're saving what little cap space remains while they evaluate positions. They could always add a player later in the process.

  • Steven Jackson's sense of humor shined through as he ran past reporters on his way to the locker room after practice. "I'm the one buying the team," he joked.

  • Play of the day: Marc Bulger threading a touchdown pass to tight end Randy McMichael in the back of the end zone. McMichael isn't a great receiver or a great blocker, but he's good enough at both to stay on the field -- if he can bounce back from a broken leg and stay healthy this season.

  • Honorable mention: Third-round pick Bradley Fletcher picked off a pass from Brock Berlin over the middle. Safety Craig Dahl picked off Kyle Boller. Receiver Laurent Robinson made a leaping grab in the end zone, but he might have been out of bounds.

  • Spagnuolo moves quickly and always looks like he's got somewhere to be. Elapsed time for his post-practice interview session: 3 minutes, 37 seconds.

The Rams have another practice this afternoon. I'll be there.