With the conclusion of Camp St. Louis, the Rams’ player-organized workout sessions, in my opinion, they were a major success in several ways. When people deal with conflict, adversity, frustration, struggle and competition, leaders are born.
While Steven Jackson is the workhorse for the Rams, the face of the franchise is quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford reached out to James Laurinaitis (the leader on defense) and Ron Bartell with the idea of bringing their teammates to St. Louis for a week of workout sessions.
When I asked Bradford if he had a message for Rams fans during this frustrating time of uncertainty between the NFL and NFLPA (the longest-lasting labor dispute in NFL history), he replied, “We are working, working hard as an offense. This is not our first time getting together and we will continue to get together. It was a lot of fun this week, good to see everyone again. We got a lot of good work in, and I’ve only seen a couple of guys since we broke in January. Even though we can’t do it with our coaches, it feels good to get on the field and get some work in.”
Bradford came to the NFL with leadership qualities. I spoke to his high school coaches, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and several assistant coaches with the Sooners, and it was like a broken record. They all said that Bradford is a very good leader. What I witnessed in the three days of sessions backed up everything they said. The final day was rained out, but Bradford took the receivers inside the gym for route-running and continued classroom work.
This second-year player is developing into the team leader and I’m sure he will be voted offensive captain. The old saying is that, “The cream rises to the top.” Bradford was in control, gave guidance and direction and challenged his teammates to push themselves to get better. He made this statement when asked about the workout sessions: “It’s an opportunity for me and this offense to get better. If we put the work and time in we will be a better offense.”
They worked on formations, protections and ran routes after routes after routes, to achieve the timing and anticipation along with perfection that Bradford was working so hard to achieve.
As a former coach, I observed that the player workouts were extremely organized both offensively and defensively. Players were working over and around dummies, through ropes and pushing each other through motivation and hustle. Some folks in the community stopped me while I was filling my SUV and asked, “How does the flag football look with the Rams players?” I quickly whipped their minds free of that thought when I told them about Bradford and the other players.
While the complete roster was not present, the players that flew into St. Louis for these workout sessions bonded during this time of frustration. They built team unity and forged a sense of togetherness that will carry over to the season, whenever that may be.
News and Notes
*While Steve Jackson was not present, he is a war daddy and always, I repeat, always comes to camp in shape, focused and ready to go. While the team missed his presence and leadership, he will be ready when the whistle blows on the lockout ending.
Mardy Gilyard was a no-show. It is my understanding from a source he had a close friend pass away and decided to attend the services. I’m still working to confirm if that was truly the case. John Greco was not in attendance. For two players that are on the bubble and will be in a dogfight to make the 2011 roster, making at least an appearance would have helped their cause.
*The Josh McDaniels playbook questions were answered by Bradford: “After I received it, I feel pretty good since I got it. I know it is a matter of getting the reps, you can look at the paper all day, but until you get on the field, run through it, you don’t know how it plays out, timing on the field and the more work the more comfortable I get.”
*Robert Quinn returns to the states after spending a week in Haiti with the JBF Global Ambassadors, helping in the rebuilding process after the 2010 earthquake that devastated that region.
*Lance Kendricks ran around like a man possessed, catching everything in his area and displayed the size-speed combination that safeties will struggle with covering deep.
*Austin Pettis was a day late, but showed why Rams scouts coveted him. He has natural receiving skills to snatch the ball out of the air, although he is extremely raw in routes. I like his size and the ability to play both inside and out.
*Greg Salas is very smooth in movement. Like Pettis he will need route refinement. He has good field awareness and presence along with natural receiving skills, hand-eye coordination and the ability to pluck the ball at its highest point.