Pead Rushing to Catch Up

Posted Jun 6, 2012

After waiting almost a month to get the opportunity to practice, attend meetings and simply be part of his new team, rookie running back Isaiah Pead returned to St. Louis on Wednesday and crammed a whole lot of activity into just a few short hours.

Because of the NFL rule that states rookies can’t begin practicing and playing with their new teams until their respective college has completed its final class, Pead has spent the better part of the past month shuttling between his home in Columbus, Ohio and school at the University of Cincinnati.

Needless to say, instead of spending that valuable time practicing and getting to know his teammates, familiarizing himself with the offense and learning from the coaching staff, Pead has been impatiently waiting for his time to come.

“It was frustrating because I had to wait for classes to be out in school and I wasn’t even taking classes,” Pead said. “So I was just sitting at home and working out.”

Well, that wasn’t the only thing Pead was doing but more on that in a moment. Because Cincinnati is on the quarters system, his class didn’t complete its final school work until yesterday.

Pead quickly hopped on an airplane and was at the ContinuityX training center in time for his first practice with the full squad and first practice as a Ram since the rookie minicamp on May 12. 

Upon arriving in St. Louis, Pead introduced himself to many of his teammates, including starting back Steven Jackson, caught up on some missed meeting time, practiced and signed his rookie contract, a deal Pead struck with the team on Wednesday afternoon.

Pead took to Twitter to break the news of his signing; using his @iPead account to tell the world he “got his first job today.”

Coach Jeff Fisher said it was good to have Pead back in the fold but also cautioned that the team will be careful with their young back to ensure he doesn’t push too hard in his early days adjusting.

“Yeah, it’s his first day,” Fisher said. “It looks like he’s been in the (play) book but we’ll have to watch him. He appears to be in good shape but there’s no substitute for working here so we’ll watch him over the next couple of days and then get him really into our minicamp next week. We know he’s been working. But you want to be smart about it. You don’t want to put him in position to pull something.”

Pead’s first practice was relatively uneventful though he got a few repetitions as the second running back and did plenty of individual work. He also handled his share of return duties during the special teams periods.

For the most part, though, Pead’s first day was spent getting acclimated to a Rams practice.

“I was kind of behind but I did a lot of watching today, learning visually,” Pead said.

Most of what Pead was able to see during Wednesday’s practice were things that he had seen before, even in his time away from St. Louis. That’s because though Pead wasn’t in St. Louis for all of the previous OTAs and meetings, he was still working to learn the playbook.

Aside from personal time Pead spent studying his playbook, he and running backs coach Ben Sirmans have been in nearly constant contact while Pead has been in Ohio. Those conversations generally took place via FaceTime – which is basically Apple’s answer to Skype – and allowed Pead to stay plugged in to what the running backs were learning that day.

Those conversations kept Pead up to speed with the installation of the offense and while Sirmans did his best to keep Pead in the loop, Pead said Wednesday there is no substitute for seeing it up close and having Sirmans as well as teammates like Jackson at his disposal to ask questions.

“Most of it was things we had talked about and then finally being able to see it live, it was like ‘Oh, that’s that run play,’” Pead said. “There were a couple of plays which I think were new today that we went over for the first time as a group so we all learned up on that. I just really am asking most of the rookies who are kind of doing the same thing I am doing here and then of course, I am asking Steven and a couple of other vets what to do. They have helped me come along.”

Of course, Pead’s responsibilities go beyond simply getting caught up with the mental aspects of the game. While he was away, Pead said he forced himself to get up early every morning to get workouts in so that his body would get accustomed to the early wake up calls that come with playing in the NFL.

Going back and forth between Columbus and Cincinnati made it difficult for Pead to get a set routine for his workouts but he said he tried to get it done in the morning every day.

It didn’t help that Pead would regularly encounter well wishers wondering why he wasn’t in St. Louis with his new team.

“Yeah, I kind of went through that kind of questioning every day,” Pead said. “Everybody kind of understands and was happy for me and supported me so I am ready to be out here ready to go.”
As a relative newcomer to this camp, Pead isn’t setting too many lofty expectations for the near future, focusing instead on the various ways he can contribute to the team. He’s well aware of Jackson’s lofty presence and knows his main job is to make dynamic plays whenever he’s given the chance.

“I think I can bring more attributes, more competitiveness to the running back room which can only make our offense and our team better,” Pead said. “Definitely on special teams I can do returning and going down and making the tackle so I think just bringing more attributes and more ability to our team.”

Pead and the Rams will return to the practice field for the squad’s final OTA on Friday after Fisher gave the team the day off on Thursday.

That doesn’t mean Pead will take Thursday off, though. After all, he’s had more of those than he’d like in the past few weeks.

“When I leave here I am going to go get extra work with Coach (Sirmans) and then coach (Fisher) called practice off tomorrow so I am going to be here all day tomorrow just catching up so by the time we get back to practice the next day I should be all caught up,” Pead said.