Thursday, June 5, 2014
Observations from Rams' practice
By Nick Wagoner
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams were the last team to jump into the fray of organized team activities. They officially began the work on Tuesday, but Thursday offered the first session open to the media.
As OTA practices go, Thursday's workout came with plenty of fireworks and much more to chew on. Here's what I took away from the day's work:
Scuffles abound: On an overcast day with cool temperatures, tempers ran hotter than one would expect, especially for a second OTA. There were three noticeable scuffles, one involving linebacker Alec Ogletree (his opponent was unrecognizable because the scrum happened too far away and was quickly broken up) that led coach Jeff Fisher to quickly stop practice and tell his team to cool down.
Rams receiver Kenny Britt caught a long TD pass against Janoris Jenkins during practice on Thursday.
Upon getting back to work, receiver Kenny Britt promptly beat cornerback Janoris Jenkins for a touchdown of about 40 yards then did the same to Trumaine Johnson soon after. Britt let the young corners know about it and eventually it led to a full on fight between he and Johnson. Fisher again stopped practice but this time read his team the riot act with language not fit for print here but audible from about 100 yards away.
Fisher doesn't mind spirited, competitive practices but his message was clear.
"We have some rules we have to abide by and we have to learn to protect each other a little better," Fisher said. "It was very competitive. It started out early. Kenny caught those two deep balls in the 1-on-1s. That kind of got things going, but it was good."
Later, defensive end Michael Sam and running back Isaiah Pead quickly exchanged not-so pleasantries but heeded Fisher's words and quickly separated.
Speaking of Britt: As mentioned above, Britt's two long touchdown catches (both from Shaun Hill) and subsequent reactions spurred the scuffles, but let's not lose sight of the fact that he made those plays in the first place. Britt has an opportunity to start fresh and told reporters after practice that he's viewing this season like he's a rookie starting anew.
Britt is a big, physical player and has already been nicknamed "The Incredible Hulk" by some of his teammates. Clearly, he has some impressive physical skills but he's also a bit emotional. You can look at Britt beating Jenkins and Johnson for long catches and his past off-field issues however you choose, but if nothing else Britt brings an attitude and competitiveness on the practice field that should be a net positive for a young receiver group.
For what it's worth, Britt chose not to address the Instagram post which drew some attention during the draft, saying it is between he and his wife.
Sitting it out: Heading into the practice, we already knew that left tackle Jake Long and end William Hayes would not be practicing. Those two did indeed sit out the workout though they did a little in the individual drills at walkthrough pace.
Joining Long and Hayes on the sideline were quarterback Sam Bradford, running back Chase Reynolds and safeties Maurice Alexander and Christian Bryant. Bradford is expected to participate in Friday's OTA, at least during seven-on-seven. With no injury reports at this time of year, getting an answer on injured players is a difficult proposition but Alexander and Bryant did some work on the side and Reynolds appeared to be moving with a slight limp.
Center Scott Wells also wasn't present as he had an excused absence.
Line dance: With Long and Wells absent, the Rams had to adjust their line on the first day a bit. Sean Hooey filled in for Long at left tackle and Tim Barnes for Wells at center.
The rest of the line was as expected with Greg Robinson at left guard, Rodger Saffold at right guard and Joe Barksdale at right tackle. Wells is expected to return Friday but Long will be out beyond the OTAs.
But the Rams are clearly optimistic that Long will be ready sooner than later. Fisher said Long's target return is the middle of training camp. In the meantime, they don't appear to be in a rush to disturb Saffold or Robinson from their spots at guard.
“We want to go through OTAs and most of camp with players playing the position they’ll play in the opener," Fisher said. "You assume Jake comes back, so we’ll just plug someone else in out there.”