Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and his staff kept the rookies a week longer than the veteran players after OTAs were completed to get the youngsters further acclimated to life in the NFL. Today, those same rookies and four players who were on the roster last year – but didn’t register an accredited season – were back on the practice field in Earth City, a few days before the veterans come in and join the team on Thursday.

Over the last few days, the rookies have made several public appearances, greeting fans, signing autographs and taking photos. But they also spent time with their position coaches and continued with the conditioning they established prior to going on break.

The message to the rookies then, as well as the whole team, was simple: Stay out of trouble, and return in great condition. At least through the first day, the instruction appeared to take hold.

“I thought they did an outstanding job on the conditioning test, each and every one of them,” Fisher said. “We didn’t have any issues at all. Clearly they left and worked hard. They are excited to be back, they were kind of a little quite in the team meeting this morning. It was the realization that summer was over and here we go, but we got them loosened up in the shuttle test. Since then, then they have been good.”

With the NFL offseason being the worst yet for off-field incidents, the Rams rookies heard Fisher’s message loud and clear, as did the veterans who are already in town and started the process of completing their physicals.

“They paid attention, yeah,” Fisher said. “A number of guys came in early, a number of the vets just stayed around, and so we had vets appear over their (rookies) shoulder rooting them on during their conditioning test.

“Yes, it would appear that this break has been very productive for us. Guys got together on their own and threw the ball, so we’re looking forward to Thursday getting on the field.”

Fisher went on to tell reporters that his staff got together and communicated with every Ram via text, reminding them of the 2013 goals, holidays coming up and what opportunities lay ahead of them.

Watching the rookies run around, I didn’t see a lot of mental errors. I did see a collective athletic skill set that is better than last year at this time, and the speed and explosive movement just jumps out at you.

News & Notes

– Fisher announced that Rams veterans with four-plus years of experience will be allowed to stay at home during training camp.

– The Rams made it official: Linebacker Will Witherspoon inked his contract this morning. Witherspoon will bring depth and leadership to a young locker room. He knows the organization and has played in Fisher’s system on defense in Tennessee.

– After another impressive session, Tavon Austin was asked about his time away from Rams Park.

“Summer break was pretty good,” the rookie wideout said, “working hard. I was down in Miami with a couple fellas – Brandon Marshall, Antonio Brown, Stedman (Bailey), of course. It went pretty well.”

It wasn’t long before the West Virginia product was pressed for details about quarterback Sam Bradford’s Oklahoma-based workouts earlier in the month.
“They went well,” Austin said, smiling. “He made us do two-a-days. I wasn’t used to that coming out of college. I was only there for two days; I had to go back home. But, for the most part, everything went well and got good work in.”

Injury Update

Barrett Jones: listed as “active non-football injury.” He spoke with the press about the removal of the plates from his knee, if he is on schedule and where he thought he would be at this point. (Trainers agree that the multi-time national champion rehab is progressing according to plan.)

Meanwhile, three players – tight end Lance Kendricks, defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo and safety Matt Daniels – will open camp on the PUP list.

Rams rookies practice again tomorrow, will get Wednesday off and then join the veterans on the field for the opening of training camp Thursday.