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Rookie running back Daryl Richardson made his debut at St. Louis Rams training camp on Tuesday, as Andrew Wagaman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. The Rams' 2012 seventh-round pick is looking to become the team's third-string running back behind starter Steven Jackson and back-up Isaiah Pead.
Richardson, a product of Division II Abilene Christian, was the Rams' final pick in the 2012 draft. He pulled his hamstring near the end of minicamps in June, but Wagaman says that he looked fully healthy during drills with the Rams on Wednesday.
Even though Richardson told reporters he was still somewhat tight early on, he's mentioned that stretching has improved his condition. After putting up solid numbers for Abilene Christian, the Rams are hoping he can become a pleasant surprise in their backfield this season.
Sam Bradford's 2011 season was haunted by a high ankle sprain that caused the quarterback to miss six games and play injured in plenty of others. Bradford suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of St. Louis' 24-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers on October 16, but there remains some concern the sprain to the Oklahoma product could linger into this season.
New Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said on Tuesday that high ankle sprains could linger for up to a year, but doesn't expect Bradford to be too hampered by the injury this season.
"There’s going to be residual effects from high-ankle sprains, especially when you come back into practice like he is," Fisher said.
"But we don’t anticipate it to be a problem, and it hasn’t been one. He’s moving around fine."
A former No. 1 overall draft pick entering his third pro season, Bradford finished with 2,164 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions for St. Louis in 2011.
It's all about Sam Bradford at St. Louis Rams training camp as the quarterback enters his third season, but it's no secret the Oklahoma product won't be able to turn around his team's fortunes unless he can remain upright. The offensive line is a major concern in St. Louis, and early training camp injuries to a couple front five stalwarts could soon start to worry first year head coach Jeff Fisher.
Left tackle Rodger Saffold is the man tasked with protecting Bradford's blind side, but he's currently fighting a minor groin pull. The Rams are being cautious so the injury doesn't linger and turn into a season-long problem.
Center Scott Wells also remains sidelined. Wells was signed to play center after a long career with the Green Bay Packers, but he's been unable to gel with his new teammates since training camp started.
The NFL will have it's first female official on the field Thursday night.
In his latest NFL Training Camp blog entry, ESPN's John Clayton came away with a number of good impressions from the St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford, suggesting the third-year quarterback might be able to recapture his "elite quarterback" rookie upside:
Bradford looks great. He has lifted weights in the offseason and is bigger and stronger. He finished last season at 216 pounds. Now, he's 225 and throwing with authority. Schottenheimer is adding more motion to the offense with his receivers to confuse defenses. A smarter offensive scheme should mean better quarterback play for the Rams.
In his first two years, Bradford has started 26 games and compiled 5676 passing yards with 24 touchdowns for just a 74.2 quarterback rating.
Offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins reported to Rams rookie camp out of shape, and the organization held him out of drills while he worked on the issue. Now that he's gotten himself into better shape, the South Carolina product is finally able to participate fully in practice.
A week after reporting, as the Rams spent their second day in full pads Friday, the 6-3, 341-pound Watkins was on the field, at a better weight and seeing significant time with the second and third teams.
"I'm just glad to be back out on the field," he said. "I thank the trainers for doing it the right way and getting me back out there safely. Now that I'm back out there, I'm just basically trying to get the mental part of it down."
The St. Louis Rams have what is becoming a yearly rite between DB Darian Stewart and DB Craig Dahl. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, both Dahl and Stewart are swapping days on the starting team. And though the arrangement is competitive, the duo is keeping on good terms and working to push each other:
"He's a good player, and I know I'm a good player," Stewart said. "We know we're both capable of being starters at this level. So it's all competition — at the same time we're just making each other better."
Dahl, 27, started 5 games at strong safety for the Rams in 2011, collecting 42 tackles and 1 interception. The four-year veteran spent the majority of 2010 as the starting strong safety for the Rams.
Stewart, 26, is in his second NFL season, and is coming off a 2011 season where he started 11 games with 60 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 1 interception.
The St. Louis Rams desperately needed to improve their defensive secondary during the offseason, and after spending a considerable amount of time and money on acquisitions at CB the situation should be much better in 2012. The Rams signed Cortland Finnegan to a long-term deal at the outset of free agency, but they also spent a high draft pick to select Janoris Jenkins in the second-round (No. 39 overall) of the NFL Draft.
The good news for Rams fans is that Jenkins has been very impressive in training camp. ESPN's Adam Schefter appeared on SportsCenter Wednesday and noted that the rookie CB has "Pro Bowl potential" (h/t Rotoworld):
"Through a week of training camp, Janoris Jenkins has flashed Pro Bowl potential. He's looked like a natural corner, like he can man that position. Has looked like a difference maker at the cornerback spot, like a future Pro Bowl player. The Rams are very excited about what they've seen from their young cornerback so far."
If Jenkins can provide solid play opposite Finnegan, the Rams have en excellent chance to drastically improve their pass defense in 2012. That would go a long way towards improving the team's chances to win each and every contest during the upcoming season.
After suffering through a miserable 2-14 season in 2011, the St. Louis Rams know that competition for starting spots is the best way to make training camp a productive time for the team activities. The offensive line is a unit particularly in flux for the upcoming year, and with incumbent starting left guard Jacob Bell now retired the Rams have opened up the LG spot for a position battle in camp. Quinn Ojinnaka is a 28-year-old journeyman now on this fourth team as he begins his seventh NFL season, but the former fifth-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft knows he has a chance to win a starting job in St. Louis:
"This is my first opportunity I've been given to win a starting job," said Ojinnaka. "I'm gonna try to take the job, but at the end of the day I'm doing whatever I need to do to make this team and help this team win."
"I don't know how it happened," Ojinnaka said, modestly. "I took some reps with the '1s' (starters) early in OTAs, but due to Roger (Saffold) not being able to practice I had to play left tackle, help the team that way. I had no idea I was going to be with the '1s' coming back."
quotes via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
You already knew that defensive end Chris Long will be sticking around St. Louis through 2016, but now we have the terms of the new four-year extension. Long will earn $50 million over the course of the contract, with $27 million in the deal guaranteed. It's certainly a significant deal for the defensive end, who becomes the first Rams draft pick to earn a second contract since cornerback Ron Bartell, a second round pick in 2005.
Long, 27, was the second overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. He finished seventh in the NFL in sacks last season by tallying 13. Long totaled 8.5 sacks for the Rams in 2010. The 6-foot-3, 270 lbs. defensive end is the son of former Oakland Raiders standout Howie Long.
The St. Louis Rams have been searching for a solid receiving corps for what seems like over a decade now, and though it remains to be seen if the 2012 version will make that leap, immediate impressions have been good. NFL Network's Jeff Darlington visited Rams camp Monday morning, came away with the sense that the Rams feel good about their weapons in the passing game.
2. So which WRs stand out? There’s real sense WR Steve Smith could be on verge of rebirth. Rookie Brian Quick shows promise - but very raw.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 1, 2012
Temperatures reached over 103 degrees on Tuesday as the St. Louis Rams continued to work their way through Jeff Fisher's first training camp. The severe heat could have contributed to several players sitting out of practice as they continue to rehab injuries.
Running back Daryl Richardson and wide receiver Danario Alexander are each battling leg injuries, though both players did some running on the side during Tuesday's practice. Center Tim Barnes, defensive backs Josh Gordy and Kendric Burney and guard Rokevious Watkins each were sidelined with various ailments.
The Rams official team blog touted a matched pitting receiver Danny Amendola vs. cornerback Cortland Finnegan as the most entertaining battle of camp. Amendola suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 last year. This is Finnegan's first season in St. Louis after spending the first six years of his career as a member of the Tennessee Titans.
The St. Louis Rams signed defensive end Chris Long to a four-year extension for "huge" money, but it appears they are not done locking up the core of their defense just yet. The Rams are now discussing the framework of a contract extension with 25-year-old linebacker and former 2009 second-round pick (No. 35 overall), James Laurinaitis. Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that "talks are under way between the Rams and Laurinaitis' St. Louis-based agent, Tom Condon of CAA."
Laurinaitis has played three seasons with the Rams and has started every game of his three-year NFL career (48 total starts). The former Ohio State star isn't worried about timing when it comes to inking a long-term extension, but it sounds like it's something he wants to happen (quotes via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch):
"Tom [Condon] mentioned that they're talking, but I don't follow that stuff," Laurinaitis said. "I really try not to focus on that. I just go and play football and if anything happens, Tom will let me know.""Yeah absolutely [I would like to stay]. This is the team that drafted me. And you've got to let the whole process play out. That's why I hired Tom and Ben (Dogra) to take care of that stuff. I think they're pretty good, so we'll see what they come up with."
Head coach Jeff Fisher noted that Laurinaitis is "the kind of guy you want at your middle linebacker position," because he's "dedicated" and "intelligent."
While the signing of Cortland Finnegan and a stellar draft stole the headlines for the St. Louis Rams this offseason, one signing that could prove to be the most important was locking up Pro Bowl center Scott Wells to anchor the offensive line. However, Wells had his knee scoped during the offseason, and according to Turf Show Times, missed the beginning of training camp:
@TurfShowTimes: Scott Wells not practicing today. Had a knee scope in the spring. Missed most of OTAs and minicamp too. Keep an eye in this one
Wells signed with the Rams this offseason after spending his entire career with the Green Bay Packers. With so much uncertainty at LT, RT and LG, it's very important that Wells be healthy to help keep Sam Bradford off his back during the season.
The St. Louis Rams and star defensive end Chris Long have agreed to a "massive" four-year contract extension, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. The deal comes after a breakout season in 2011 for the player drafted second overall in the 2008 draft.
Terms of the deal haven't been disclosed yet, but Long will presumably become one of the highest paid defensive players in the league. After showing steady improvement during his first three years in the league, Long emerged as an elite pass-rusher last season, recording 13 sacks with St. Louis.
Beyond the major improvement that Long has made since entering the league, it's worth noting that the Rams have locked up a very durable player for the next four years. Over his first four seasons in the NFL, Long didn't miss a single game.
While reviewing possible position battles across the St. Louis Rams' roster, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that the Rams are currently looking at eight different wide receivers for six roster spots. An early suspension to one option makes the roster cuts a bit easier in the fall, but it remains to be seen which six players will ultimately emerge.
Danario Alexander, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Greg Salas, Steve Smith and Brian Quick are all competing to fill wideout roles in St. Louis. According to Thomas, Amendola and the team's 2012 draft picks, Quick and Givens, are the only locks among the group.
That leaves five remaining players for three spots, although a remaining two-game suspension for Pettis prevents him from being an option at the beginning of the season anyways. Thomas believes the biggest decision will ultimately come between Alexander and Gibson, leaving the team to choose between potential and reliability.
We're not expecting a miracle. Just something that will keep us awake on Sunday afternoons. Here are the thresholds the St. Louis Rams Rams need to meet to stay relevant.
Once again, 5th-round draft pick LG Rokevious Watkins, who reported overweight and out of shape, is limited to stretching and conditioning.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) July 27, 2012
The Rams took Watkins with the No. 150 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The South Carolina product received a 56.5 grade from NFL.com's analysts, who said he "may need to shed some weight to more more competitively at the next level." It appears Watkins failed to do so.
The Rams offense allowed the third-highest sack rate in the NFL in 2011, giving up a sack in 9.1 percent of their pass plays.
In NFL analyst Ryan Van Bibber's latest piece, Van Bibber looks at each NFC team through the most optimistic of lenses in a series entitled "Why Your Team Will Make The Playoffs This Season."
For the St. Louis Rams, he sees a talented defense that might be able to take advantage of several "shaky quarterback situations" in their coming 2012 NFL schedule:
St. Louis RamsThe St. Louis Rams have a long road to the playoffs, but they can make it back thanks to playing in a wide open NFC West. What really helps the Rams in their division is that they have two essential ingredients for taking on three shaky quarterback situations in six of their games. Cortland Finnegan, one of the NFL's best pass defenders last year, joins Janoris Jenkins to lead a suddenly deep group of corners. In front of them is a defensive line headlined by Chris Long, who had 13 sacks and 83 total pressures last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Rams finished the 2011 NFL season with a 2-14 record and the No. 2 overall draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. They overhauled their coaching and front office staff in the offseason, hiring respected head coach Jeff Fischer.
dinked and dunked his way to the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2010. Things regressed a little bit in 2011 as injuries to himself and his teammates torpedoed what was supposed to be a big year for the Oklahoma product. Bradford still has the talent, and the Rams are counting on a fundamentals-first approach from new OC Brian Schottenheimer to get him back on track. The team brought back to backup Bradford, and he at least has a familiarity with Schottenheimer.
Here is the Rams' training camp schedule.
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