Players from the St. Louis Rams are getting together today in St. Louis to start some semi-organized workouts. Filling the void created by the lockout has been a challenge for all of us, but it's especially tough for players who are used to having spring practices to gear up for putting the pads on in August. But here's the question, do these informal workouts really matter?
Yes and no. Keeping some exposure to the game and the skills that go along with it is never a bad thing. Plus, it shows some resilience on the part of players; they want football.
Teams keep the pads locked up for spring practices, so the informal workouts mirror OTAs in that respect. The key element missing here: the coaches. There's the obvious factor for things like the playbook. Coaches aren't there to coach players through their roles on specific plays. As Matt Bowen pointed out last week at the NFP, the coaches are also making evaluations for forthcoming roster decisions. Players know that, and it increases the level of competition at even the spring practices.
These informal workouts are being guided by two former Rams: WR Torry Holt and S Corey Chavous. Neither player has connections to the current Rams front office, for obvious reasons, but it wouldn't be a huge surprise to think that they do have some informal chats with them. Even if they don't, there's value in a young team practicing with two experienced vets like this. Whether helping them with the fundamentals or working through what it means to be an NFL player, exposure to a couple of class acts. Holt did get at least a little exposure to the New England offense in his brief tenure with the Pats in training camp last year. Chavous runs a scouting service as part of his efforts at DraftNasty.com.
Direct benefit or not, it's important for players all over the league to be working out right now as a team...and making sure the public knows they're doing so. Like I said above, it shows their commitment in the face of the lockout and hopefully helps keep names out of the headlines for the wrong reasons. With the former NFLPA needing to keep their side of the debate framed in a positive light, these workouts will help. And if players get a little better in the process, well, that's a win too.