Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Ringside with the Rams at training camp
By Mike Sando
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Chris Long was still recovering from a couple of brawls at St. Louis Rams training camp when tight end Billy Bajema planted him on his backside.
Three words come to mind: to be continued.
"To be honest, that was bull----, so I can't wait to get my shot back on 'Baj'," Long said. "Tired as hell from two fights and then somebody wants to chip you. That's the way you're going to handle it? OK, we'll see."
Where's boxing promoter Don King when you need him? King visited the Rams early in camp when he was promoting a local card. He would have had great material Tuesday. It was that kind of morning as the Rams conducted a padded practice at team headquarters. Falling temperatures could not hold off rising tempers.
The Rams were downright ornery, and who could blame them? They're a couple weeks into training camp, they're coming off a rough game against the Minnesota Vikings and they're not the happiest team, anyway.
"You're in a bad mood -- you should be," Long said. "We were 1-15 last year. We're pissed off."
Long's main event with right tackle Jason Smith turned into an all-out melee when defensive tackle Brandon Gibson, having already fought with veteran center Hank Fraley, got a little too aggressive for Steven Jackson's liking. Jackson, the Rams' Pro Bowl running back, went after Gibson with a vengeance and ripped off the 300-pounder's helmet.
Smith, meanwhile, had taken Long to the ground near the offensive sideline.
"He's a big, strong dude," Long said. "He like wrestles cows and stuff like that. He got me on the ground. For the record, though, I ended up on top. You just couldn't see it with all that white (jerseys worn by offensive players who rallied to Smith's cause). They surrounded us over there."
Long and Smith talked things through once the fight dispersed.
"Let's not fight any more," Smith said.
"Well, don't hold onto me after the play," Long said.
The two patted one another on the head and moved on.
"Jason and me are cool," Long said. "We're both trying to get better. We get along great and compete really well."
As with most camp brawls, these resulted from players enforcing unwritten rules. If a line is crossed, the victims must fight back to maintain order.
Some unfinished business lingered, however. Long was still catching his breath following the fights when Bajema caught him off-guard. Long went down hard.
"He was probably a little worn out and then I got a chip on him without him seeing it," Bajema said. "That's just one of those things. I think he was a little worn out and didn't like that too much, but I caught him at a good time."
It's probably fortunate the Rams aren't wearing pads for their practice Tuesday night.