The NFL collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was officially ratified Thursday afternoon, meaning the new 10-year agreement was immediately in effect, but not before some drama was injected into the situation. The Rams’ afternoon practice session was moved from 1:50 to 3 p.m. to make sure the players had a large window of opportunity to complete their vote on the ratification of the new CBA. In addition, 3 p.m. Central time was the scheduled time for the new league year to officially begin and was the moment when veteran players with new contracts could begin practicing.
The 16 Rams veterans were excited and ready to take the field for the first time, until word came that there were issues or delays in the voting and those players were removed from the field for several minutes, and then returned without pads and were back in the watch-and-learn mode. It wasn’t for long. An hour or so into the practice session, those veterans were hungry and thirsty to compete with their teammates, and received the green light to practice.
The ratification of the CBA is monumental for both the owners and the players. Like all negotiations, they are intense, tough, tiring and most of them come right down to the wire, before both sides come to an agreement.
According to several sources I texted in the morning and told them to go get some rest, one NFLPA source said, “I will get my rest and spend a lot of time with the family only after the CBA is complete.” Both side worked long hours and well into the night to get this deal done.
When Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was asked about such a wacky day, he said, “We had to improvise and adjust today. We had a lot going on. You probably saw, we came out and about 16 guys that didn’t practice initially, that was all part of the ratification. And then we got the green light while we were in practice.”
“You saw (strength and conditioning coach) Rock (Gullickson) warm them up. They got a few reps here and there. We’re just trying to ease those guys in. We don’t want to amp them up too quick and set them back. It felt like there were a lot of bodies out there. When I looked over here when Rock was warming those guys up, I had Ben, one of our equipment managers count. I think there were 16 guys, which means we were not practicing with a lot of people for a while. And it’s good to have those guys out there. We’ll see what happens. We have a long way to go to mix them all in, but hopefully it works out.”
The Rams coup of the week was the signing of running back Jerious Norwood. As the media was introduced to Norwood Wednesday, Thursday we met Cadillac Williams, who was on the field watching and learning.
Said Spagnuolo on his newest running back, “I believe, hopefully this evening something positive will happen and he’ll be a part of the football team but there’s nothing official right now.”
When asked who was released, he said, “Chauncey (Washington) was let go earlier today. It was before practice; we wish him a lot of luck.”
When asked about the crowded backfield, Spagnuolo said, “We think we have some young guys out there working. We’re going to let it all shake out. We hope what we did do is create a bunch of competition all over the roster. That was the goal.”
Williams admitted he isn’t sure what his role will be.
“I’m just looking forward to coming out here to compete and help Steven Jackson and the offense in any way possible,” he said. “When they signed Norwood I thought maybe they were good, but then they called me and said they wanted me, so I was excited.”
When asked his thoughts on Jackson, Williams said, “He’s a very physical runner. Not only physical, he’s nifty. He hits the hole good, he’s got good shiftiness, he’s the complete back. I definitely respect his game, one of the best in the game.”
Meanwhile, Spagnuolo paid his respects to Marc Bulger, who announced his retirement Wednesday.
Said Spagnuolo, “To me, he is a special guy, classy guy, great competitor. 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.”
Injury Report: Defensive end Eugene Sims did not practice (concussion). Wide receiver Dominique Curry left practice because of a fractured hand.