EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams will get a change of scenery today when they host their annual FanFest, which features something closer to a real football game than anything they do in a normal practice.
The scrimmage is set for 1:30 p.m. ET at the Edward Jones Dome and is open to the public. The Rams have other activities available for fans in the hours before the practice begins.
Saturday's practice won't be played at full speed with starters against starters but it will at least give the many young players on the team a chance to make an impression. It will also be the first time the Rams wear full pads -- they've worn shoulder pads in two practice this week -- in this training camp.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher explained the setup for the scrimmage Friday evening.
“From a football standpoint, it’s another practice," Fisher said. "We’re going to do some live work. We’re in full pads. We’ll finish with, I don’t want to say rookies, but there will be some other younger players in a live tackling scrimmage. But for the most part, we’re continuing with our installation. We’re doing a lot of drills, the two-minute, one–on-ones, all kinds of different drills out there. Those who haven’t been able to come to the training camp get to see what we do at training camp, we just happen to be moving indoors.”
Although the Rams are just a week into this training camp, a change of setting can be a welcome sight for a team that has spent most of its waking hours around one another for the past seven days. The opportunity to hit with a little authority and practice actual tackling is also welcome, especially for younger players who are trying to make their way.
It's almost certain the Rams' top offense and top defense won't go live with any drills, though "thud" tempo -- in which tacklers make contact with their shoulder pads -- is usually a common part of that portion of the practice. But with some bumps and bruises piling up in practice this week, the Rams won't take any chances of suffering further injury.
Which means that the third-string players who are jockeying for roster or practice squad spots will get some chances to play at full speed and make another initial impression before preseason games start.
The scrimmage also provides an opportunity for those young players to go through a normal game day at the Edward Jones Dome.
“It is good for the young guys that haven’t been there; the draft class, and we have players that have not played there before," Fisher said. "So it’s good to find out where your locker is and how you come in and off the field and where we warm up and do those kinds of things instead of have it be a first time experience for them next weekend.”