OTAs and minicamp are a great chance for coaches to get a look at their players, and for those players to reacquaint themselves with the playbook. It's also that time of year where the heightened state of NFL media takes every route and every talking point and turns into narrative grist.
I'd recommend taking anything and everything that gets said this time of year with a healthy perspective. Things will change between now and August, when the pads go on and hitting starts.
A guide to some of the niceties being thrown out this time of year ...
Million-Dollar Free Agent Is A Perfect Match
You'll never guess what the buzz on tight end Jared Cook is: he's a real fit for this offense. Huh. I was really worried, because the Rams gave the guy one of the richest free agent deals, $35 million with $19 million guaranteed, among tight ends. It's good to know that he is exactly what the Rams thought he would be ... PRACTICING WITHOUT PADS.
The same thing has been said about every free agent ever, in their first spring with a new team anyway. It's only after a year and several million dollars spent do we find out that the free agent wasn't really a fit. Can you imagine the reaction if a team took the opposite approach?
"Well, [player X] just isn't really doing much right now. We're kind of disappointed, but we hope he can pick it up."
Only Greg Schiano can say shit like that, but in regards to Josh Freeman and not a free agent.
Cook has the skill set the Rams offense desperately needs. He's clearly got talent. Is he a fit? Of course he is.
[Player] Is Really 'Putting on a Show'
Yep, a football player who was good enough to get to the pros looks good in practice without tackling or pads. Pretty hard to believe, right?
No. Players that have shown enough to work their way onto an NFL roster probably should look good running around the practice field in shorts. It's kind of a basic expectation that you can at least practice well. Hell, Mardy Gilyard did.
The latest Rams play to "put on a show" at OTAs was second-year receiver Brian Quick. Tony Softli filed a breathless report on Quick after Friday's session in which he "caught 17 or 18 passes" in a variety of routes and practice situations. Wonderful.
It's also worth pointing out that ESPN 101 has a contract to broadcast Rams games. They also cover the team. Hyping up the team's offseason work sure would make for a great way to pump up their numbers, huh?
In case you forgot, Quick was looking pretty good at practice last year too. (Also worth noting in that link is how much faster the Rams were going to be in 2012).
Quick should be better this year. A good showing in practice is about all we have to go on, but you know as well as I do, that you have to take these kinds of reports with a grain of salt.
In Shape, Feeling Good
Everybody's in good shape and feeling good about where they are in the spring, especially NFL players. It's always good to hear that players are in shape, since that's kind of the basic requirement for being a professional athlete (excluding bowling and golf).
To the Rams' credit, Jeff Fisher didn't really beat around the bush when it came to this year's memorial Richard Simmons offseason story: second-year guard Rok Watkins.
Watkins has struggled with his conditioning, and Fisher made it clear what the kid had to do:
"Rok needs to continue to focus on his conditioning," Fisher said after last Thursday's OTAs, "continue to focus on his weight and focus on his football. This will be a big challenge for him. Last year when he left, he came back let me just say, he did not meet his weight requirement when he reported to camp. This year, he needs to do that when he comes back. Make sure he's down."
But that leads to another timeless May football trope ...
Eager to Contribute
Watkins is staying in St. Louis this summer, working with the team's training staff and slimming his way down to football shape. Why? BECAUSE HE WANTS TO CONTRIBUTE.
Pretty amazing news to hear that an NFL player wants to compete in the NFL.