Initial Activity Proves It -- The Rams Are Here
May 12, 2016
The pre-preseason is now officially shining on the Southern California pro football community as the Los Angles Rams held their rookie minicamp on Friday and Saturday, May 6 – 7, at the Residence Inn River Ridge in Oxnard.
The Rams' coaching staff put the six NFL draftees, 19 signed rookie free agents and a couple of tryout players through a number of drills, exercises and stretches at the two-football field playing facility.
The weather conditions were ideal as the Ram coaching staff kept things moving under their watchful eyes. The two-hour plus practice included time in the weight room located just a few yards from the field.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher addressed the media following Saturday's minicamp session: "We just finished our second practice with the rookies. They've done a really good job, just really impressed with the whole group. We've got a lot accomplished.
"As we have referred to this in the past as an orientation, as opposed to a minicamp, and in essence that's what it is. We're monitoring their speed and explosive movements and things like that, particularly because they are a little bit behind the veterans.
"They adjusted, they did a nice job. We got a lot of offense and defense in. We got some special teams work going. Their schedule right now, they are going to go in and have their first lift. They were introduced to our weight room philosophy yesterday."
The players separated into groups according to position and were put through various drills with sleds, ropes, hitting pads as well as traditional passing, special team, route-running and blocking drills.
Rookie quarterback Jared Goff wore the red jersey as he threw to the four receivers from the recent NFL draft and the other free-agent signees in the non-contact passing drills.
"I thought he did a really good job. A little frustrated at times for him because he's setting the back foot and getting ready to go and we're running half-speed routes, so the timing stuff doesn't work out," said Fisher.
"So, if you see balls hit the ground or things like that, it's all because we're encouraging the skill players not to run full speed. He's doing a great job of picking up our offense."
Fisher spoke about the receivers and tight ends: "Basically, what we've evaluated are their hands and their mental capacity on offense. We just haven't gotten full speed. Competitive, very skilled. Pharoh (Cooper) is what we thought he was, based on a couple days, but he's not full speed yet.
"Impressed when the tight ends walked off the bus, it's good to see them. Good tight ends that are long that can catch. We have a lot of work to do, but by and large, the coaching staff is very excited."
Impressive was linebackers coach Frank Bush guiding his men as they took turns trying to punish the multi-padded sled with continuous hits. The drill was non-stop rotational action until he noticed an improper stance, form or movement. After a brief correction and instruction from Bush, the drill continued.
Fisher on linebacker Josh Forrest: "Big, long, athletic and can move really well right now at half speed. I haven't seen him at full speed. He's a good-looking physical specimen. He looks good. He's got a lot of work to do, like the rest of them do catching up before we cut them loose. But he's got some movement skills."
The two-day practice minicamp serves a couple purposes such as orientation. Fisher commented on preparing the rookies: "Well, that's the objective of what we're doing so it's not a shock. We want them to go out and condition and be prepared to go into the drills.
"Our offseason program is this, we can't come together until June, until the OTAs. So that's when the offense and defense come together and compete, so we're separate, so they'll just be drilling.
"That's an excellent opportunity to get them up. Once they come together in the OTAs in June, then they'll be able to compete. I think what we're going to see on Monday, when the vets come on the field for their 90-minute session and the rookie class is observing.
"You're going to see a little of this out of the vets because they are going to show off a little bit. So it works out good – you get more out of the vets, the 'rooks' get to see it. Once we get to OTAs everything will be good."
Fisher on evaluating the players even though they're practicing at half-speed:"You're looking at the mental things. Are they doing the right things? Is the footwork appropriate? Are the steps appropriate? Are you dropping your hips?
"It's hard to evaluate the explosiveness and things like that. It's hard to evaluate when you're not competing against an opponent, an offensive or defensive opponent.
"It's really unfair for them to come out and ask them to get to full speed and then you have a soft tissue injury and then he misses OTAs then he's behind at camp.
"We've been doing this for a long time and it's worked out for us because ideally what you want to have is you want to have a healthy roster when you start training camp."
That's two practices down and many, many more to come. The Rams have officially struck dirt once again in Los Angeles, fittingly christened by the initial sights and sounds of future Rams.