The St. Louis Rams are one of the teams that many are picking to be much improved. They got a lot better on defense via the draft and they made some moves to sure up their offensive line. The Rams just completed another session of OTAs and will begin mandatory mini camps next week. Head Coach Jeff Fisher shared his thoughts on where the team stands.
First round draft picks Greg Robinson and Aaron Donald both are unsigned. Fisher acknowledged that the deals are easier to get done now but explained the reasoning behind waiting to get them done.
“With the new rookie cap and everything it’s really not difficult to get the deals done. So we just felt like this time would be better served, putting them in the situations from an educational standpoint, financial planning and those kinds of things. We’ve done a lot of that. We’ve got another meeting or two left to go and then I would think we’d get these things done here pretty quickly.”
Fisher has been reunited with his former Greg Williams, his former Defensive Coordinator when he was the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. Williams was reinstated this year from an indefinite suspension. The Rams defense is sure to get even more aggressive and will be one that is looking to create more turnovers.
One of the positions that a high priority is placed upon is the safety position, specifically strong safety. The Rams selected T.J. McDonald from USC in the third round. He was enjoying a stellar rookie season prior to breaking his leg in week four against the San Francisco 49ers, the team that his father Tim McDonald won a Super Bowl with.
Coach Fisher was sees McDonald’s role growing with the addition of Greg Williams. He heaped praised on how McDonald matured last year. Fisher also noted that the players are responding to Williams very well. Williams is the kind of coach that will really get his players going because of how fiery he is. He knows how to push players buttons and has a very good knowledge of all positions.
On McDonald: “When T.J. got going early in the season before the injury, you didn’t look at T.J. and see a rookie. You saw someone that played like an experienced player. With that being said, year two is completely different. He understands, he’s in great shape right now. (Defensive Coordinator) Gregg’s (Williams) going to be able to do a lot of things with him on defense.”
On Williams: “There’s no doubt he’s the main voice in the room. He can coach every single position. You can see the change. You can see the energy. I’ve had to back him down just a little bit.”
The offensive line was a thorn in the Rams side last year. Jake Long suffered a season ending injury and they needed help at the guard position. Fisher addressed how Jake Long’s rehab is going during his presser as well.
“He’s doing some individual stuff, a lot of stuff inside (the facility) that you don’t see and then he’s able to participate in the walk-thru. So, he’s still getting the football, the assignment, and things. He’s having the opportunity to line up against Greg (Robinson) and communicate in walk-thru. He’ll be ready to go I’m sure.”
Davin Joseph was once viewed as one of the top guards in the NFL. He signed a mega deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was released recently. He is still working to fully recover from a knee injury that robbed him landed him on injured reserve during the 2012 season. The Rams have a need for someone to step in at guard and Joseph could be their man if healthy. Fisher addressed the health of Joseph and how the free agent ended up becoming a Ram this off season.
“We had Davin in, in the middle of free agency, actually the beginning of free agency. We really liked the visit, was really excited about what we thought he could do for us from a depth standpoint and all that stuff. We gave him an opportunity to come in and compete, but Davin, I think, is at a point now where you know he just wants to have fun. We hit it off well, so we decided to wait until after the draft and we got things put together.”
“We stayed in touch with him. He really is much better than he was when he came in for the visit. He’s a pro. He knows how to rehab. He knows how to prepare for camp, and he’s doing fine right now.”
The season will largely be tied to the health of quarterback Sam Bradford. He has been prone to injury throughout both his college and NFL career. Last year Kellen Clemens stepped in for Bradford after a season ending injury. Clemens is no longer in the fold as he has been replaced by veteran Shaun Hill. It was key to get a veteran in the mix because he has to be ready to play if called upon but not take up too many reps. This is another year in which Bradford will be in a new offense so it is imperative for him to get the bulk of the reps in camp and practices. Fisher explained why he chose Hill as the backup quarterback:
“Shaun is very smart. He’s got a lot of experience. Most of the experience comes in the preseason, but he’s a settling factor. He’s a lot like Kellen (Clemens). He’s going to know what to do. He doesn’t necessarily need a lot of reps. He understands offenses, understands defenses and can push the ball down the field. His arm strength and his height, his vision, his decision making, everything. He’s still got some mobility left.”
The NFC West is widely recognized as the best division in the NFL. The Rams will need to come out and play their best week in and week out. Mandatory mini camps are right around the corner and that will set the tone for the Rams 2014 season.
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