The first weekend of Rams training camp came to a close on Sunday evening, as the weather and fan turnout made for one of the more exciting camp experiences in recent memory.
According to multiple reports, just under 2,300 fans turned out for last night’s practice and packed the hill overlooking the practice field at the team’s Earth City facility. Open practices have become an event over the last few seasons, and the additions this year of BBQ vendors and beer sales (!!!) have morphed training camp into a fan-first environment. It isn’t just the beer, though, that’s brewing an atmosphere at Rams Park. Head coach Jeff Fisher hit it right on the head in answering a post-practice question from the Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas:
“Well I think it’s a combination of a lot of different things. One, obviously, what we’re doing. Two, the way the organization handles the relationship with our fans. Great timing this Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening, with great weather. We appreciate them (the fans) coming back and we hope they continue.”
By “what we’re doing,” Fisher is undoubtedly referencing the curation of young talent that he and general manager Les Snead have made a priority in their first three offseasons working together. Despite not yet breaching the .500 wall that Rams fans are aching to get over, Fisher and Snead’s efforts to this point have positioned the team to be successful moving forward. The expectations and levels of interest heading into year three have subsequently been raised. Yesterday, I met Cover32 Rams’ Managing Editor Spencer Engel at the team facility to get a glimpse for myself. A few notes:
- Tough not to get really excited about rookie defensive tackle Aaron Donald. A bowling ball in the truest sense, the 6’1, 285 lb. first round pick looks remarkably light on his feet and quick with his hands. By all accounts, though, the defense has had the upper hand to this point in non-padded practice with the offense unable to make a lot of contact. Looking forward to seeing what Donald does in pads.
- Second-year running back Zac Stacy looked very comfortable toting the ball with the first team. On one play in particular, Stacy was able to take a handoff up the middle, cut outside and break off a big gain down the right sideline in front of cheering fans on the hill.
- Of personal rooting interest, linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong likely would have had the hit of the day had the team been practicing in pads. As the offense ran a misdirection to the left, Armstrong ignored the bait and met his receiver just as the ball reached him in the flats on the right. Instead of a well-timed hit, no-pads practice dictates a tap on the shoulder and a casual jog back to the huddle. But we all know what Ray-Ray was thinking.
- I recognize that it’s very early on, but despite all the conjecture and off-field questions, wide receiver Kenny Britt is making the Rams’ look like geniuses. Britt’s size and physicality have made him a standout early on in camp, where he’s had a clear advantage over the young Rams secondary (specifically cornerback Janoris Jenkins) and made his presence felt in red zone drills.
The Rams are back on the field this morning undergoing special teams drills as a way of re-acclimating to padded practice, according to Fisher. The next open practice is Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. CT.