Final Rams OTA Recap

Posted Jun 19, 2014

Sam Bradford and Jake Long both took the field for the ninth and final day of OTAs at Rams Park on Thursday.

With outside expectations of his team elevated significantly from when he took over as head coach in 2012, Jeff Fisher was cautious against reading too far into the team’s OTA workouts. He did, however, leave the practice field Thursday pleased with his team’s showing over the past

“We told the guys that you’re not going to compete for the division over the next couple weeks,” Fisher said. “The only thing you can do is set yourself back, so it was a step-by-step process. We got everything in, we were very healthy, we got the rookies caught up. Sam (Bradford) got on the field two consecutive days, Jake (Long) got some stuff done in individuals, so we’re in pretty good shape.”

The level of caution was particularly acute with regard to the use of Bradford, who appeared in 11-on-11 sessions for the first time Thursday. Bradford previously had been limited to 7-on-7 and individual drills during OTA practices.

“I was really happy with everything that went on,” Bradford said.  “A big part of it for me was physically getting back out on the field and seeing how my knee reacted. It’s been fantastic. We were able to do a little more than we anticipated, so that’s very positive. To get out there today was probably the best (the knee) has felt.”

Bradford was certainly the headliner among key Rams to watch during OTAs, but others stood out, as well.

Among the more notable players during OTAs was veteran wideout Kenny Britt, who estimated he hasn’t entered a season this healthy since the 2011 season. Plagued by injuries over the past two seasons, the Rams acquired Britt as a potential low-risk, high-reward pickup during the offseason, and his ability has shone through repeatedly over the past two weeks. The 6’3” Britt has created mismatches for Rams defenders during multiple OTAs, and could present a similar element for NFC West defensive backs.

In addition to Britt and the competition among the team’s receiver group, the Rams have also added a bit of intrigue in the backfield in the weeks leading up to training camp, with ‘competition’ being the  dominant word from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

While meeting with media following Tuesday’s practice, Schottenheimer encouraged competition among a running back group that includes Isaiah Pead, Bennie Cunningham and third-round draft choice Tre Mason behind second-year back Zac Stacy. While Stacy certainly will enter camp as the favorite to handle the bulk of the carries, it appears Schottenheimer envisions contributions from many others.

“Right now, competition is for who’s the starter,” Schottenheimer said. “We’re just going to let them all roll and see what happens. You saw some guys that worked with the young guys today. Zac’s (Stacy) obviously a really, really good player, but we’re going to create competition for all the guys. That’s a long way off, but we know we have a good stable group of backs and they all have different skill sets, which we’ll try to use throughout the course of the year.”

News and Notes

-Among those not participating during Thursday’s workout were safeties Christian Bryant and Maurice Alexander, DT Michael Brockers, DE William Hayes, RB Chase Reynolds, LB Ray-Ray Armstrong, WR Jamaine Sherman, C Scott Wells and T Jake Long.

With the possible exception of Bryant, Fisher anticipated each of the Rams rookies who missed time due to injury during OTAs would be available for the opening of training camp.

-Wrapping up two weeks of work in 90-degree conditions, Fisher and the Rams brought OTAs to a close with a bit of humor. As is tradition, the Rams concluded their OTAs with offensive and defensive linemen catching (or in most cases, attempting to catch) punts launched from a JUGS machine.

“We had a good group out there,” Fisher joked. “Last year, I don’t think they even touched a ball.”