New Rams Join the Fray

Posted Aug 4, 2011

On Mike Sims-Walker’s second practice snap as a member of the St. Louis Rams, he ran past his defender and glided down the sideline where quarterback Sam Bradford hit him in stride for a touchdown that covered roughly 50 yards.

It was a play that in Sims-Walker’s mind had been a long time coming. Although many of the veteran free agents who signed with the Rams in the last week have been in St. Louis for a few days, Thursday provided their first opportunity to practice with their new team.

Veterans who signed new contracts in the last week were not able to hit the field until the NFLPA officially ratified the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. That happened Thursday afternoon through a player vote.

“The first day out here I said, ‘It’s going to be a long five days watching,’” Sims-Walker said. “I just wanted to join my new teammates and I finally got to today. It was great.”

Thursday’s practice was originally scheduled for 1:50 p.m., but coach Steve Spagnuolo pushed it back to 3 as teams anticipated that the new league year would start then. The Rams’ free agents exited the locker room in full practice gear and were ready to go but they took their pads off when the official go ahead from the NFL and the NFLPA was delayed.

“It was a little bit weird but I think our guys handled it well,” linebacker David Vobora, who as a restricted free agent this year also had to wait for Thursday to begin practicing, said. “Being out here watching has been torture for us, so it was good to finally get the go ahead and get back on the field.”

The free agents didn’t shoulder a full workload Thursday as Spagnuolo made an effort to ease the large group back into things, but the head coach certainly enjoyed having a full arsenal available.

“I think there was 16 guys, which means we were not practicing with a lot of people here there for a while,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s good to have those guys out there.”

During the last week, the free agents stood on the sideline and took mental reps during every practice, but as guard Harvey Dahl expressed after his first practice as a Ram, there’s no substitute for the live action.

“You’re learning (the offense), but until you actually do it, you don’t know how well you know it until he’s calling the play in the huddle and you’re going up there and snapping the ball,” Dahl said. “It was good to get this out of the way, the first practice, get that first hit out of the way and now we can start rolling.”

Backing up Jack

Running back Jerious Norwood was one of the nine veteran who made their Rams debut Thursday, and the team officially announced the signing of Carnell “Cadillac” Williams.  The duo will back up three-time Pro Bowler Steven Jackson, who is pleased with the acquisitions the Rams have made across the board.

“I’m really excited,” Jackson said. “When you bring some new fresh talent to the team, bring competition to each and every position, I think it will make each and every person better and in all that makes the team better. The additions across the board, I think, have made us better on paper. Now it’s about gelling as a team and getting everybody on the same page.”

Williams, who was the 2005 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, called Jackson “the complete back” and said he’s looking forward to contributing in St. Louis however he can.

“I’m just looking forward to coming out and competing and help Steven Jackson and help the offense any way possible,” Williams said. “I’m just looking forward to doing whatever. I feel like I can find my way on the team, bring something to the table. I’m willing to prove that and I can’t wait to get it done. “

Quinn making progress

Rams first-round pick Robert Quinn was activated from Reserve - Non-Football Injury list Thursday and took a step closer to making his NFL practice debut. Quinn didn’t take part in team drills but was involved in some individual periods.

“We didn’t have him banging around, but slowly working him back in,” Spagnuolo said. “He did some of the walkthrough portions of practice and to be honest with you, I was fairly impressed with what he had picked up mentally. I know he has a long way to go but it was a good start.”

Congrats, Marc

Former Rams quarterback Marc Bulger announced his retirement on Wednesday, but because the Rams didn’t practice Wednesday, Thursday provided their first opportunity to speak about the two-time Pro Bowler.

“To me he is a special guy, classy guy, great competitor,” Spagnuolo said. “I always appreciated him being here and what he did, and I just want to give a shout out to Marc. I’ll get a chance to talk to him here soon, have a nice conversation.”

Spagnuolo reported two injuries Thursday: defensive end Eugene Sims (concussion) didn’t practice, and receiver Dominique Curry suffered a fractured hand during Thursday’s drills… the team waived running back Chauncey Washington Thursday… former Cardinals relief pitcher Todd Worrell was on hand for Thursday’s practice… the Rams return to the field Friday at 5 p.m., and fans are invited to attend the practice.