The Rams’ practice Thursday afternoon went off without a hitch. The players slowly took the field positional group by positional group and the coaches followed. You could feel the buzz in the air. This highly anticipated first padded practice was one without flair, lost tempers or fights breaking out everywhere. It was the opposite, players competing on a high level, pushing themselves and each other to get better on every rep in all periods of the practice session.

When asked his thoughts on the first padded practice Coach Fisher said, “It was good. It was our first official practice with the whole team with pads. What happens is it slows down a little bit even though they only weigh a few pounds, It slows down. But I thought we got a lot done and we worked a lot of situational stuff, the two minute, the redzone and I thought it was pretty good.”

In all collision sports with finely tuned and focused professional athletes competing in every drill at a high level, it tends to get chippy. Tempers get out of control. But as several hundred fans from Budweiser, a local fan favorite and sponsor, waited for some intense action and possible fights, which never happened, they were greeted with smiles from hometown entertainer Nelly.

From day one Coach Fisher has pitted the 1’s vs 1’s and Thursday’s practice was no different. Midway through practice running back Steven Jackson caught a dump pass over the middle and meet linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who delivered a kiss of the pads, and with a loud pop Jackson hit the ground fumbling the ball. The collision drew a big “whoooo” from the crowd. Just a few plays later, the same pass, drew another collision between Jackson and Dunbar, again knocking Jackson to the ground. The defensive players started to get chippy, with Dunbar and Cortland Finnegan exchanging pleasantries. That didn’t go over well with offensive linemen Harvey Dahl and Jason Smith and the other offensive linemen who came to the aid of their Pro Bowl running back rather quickly. Dahl was very vocal and coaches worked to separate offensive players from defensive players.

“I mean they’re competing and they understand. The issue is allowing those things to carry over to the game. You cannot let those kinds of things carry over into a game. But out here you can understand and appreciate them protecting their teammates. I understand that,” said Fisher.

Coach Fisher is known for always having a very physical team. He is quickly shaping this young Rams team into an extremely competitive, hardworking bunch of men that understand how to push each other to the brink of an intensive mindset which will carry over to the game. This is football, not boxing, and taking care of your teammates while preparing them for battle next Sunday against Indianapolis Colts is the key.

The St. Louis Rams will hold 2012 Fan Fest, presented by Charter, on Saturday, Aug. 4 at the Edward Jones Dome.