"You're really just wanting to survive."
That was former St. Louis Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom on 101 ESPN Monday afternoon talking about what the training camp experience is like for rookies and young players on the team. It's notable because the Rams just so happen to have some young players ... lots of them, in fact.
"After your first year or two, once you know the schedule, after that ... you're in kind of survival mode," Wistrom said. "You're playing yourself into shape. At the same time, you know it's preseason, everyone else knows it's preseason. You're still trying to go out there and show out, show what you've got."
It's something to remember when the Rams start camp later this week. (The full interview is embedded below).
But for a number of guys, the veterans on the squad, this isn't their first rodeo. Mentoring will be part of their job description as well as practicing and getting themselves into game shape. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
The Rams got off to a slow start last season, going 3-5 until that tie against the 49ers. That's when you started to see a much different, much smoother looking team, one hitting its stride.
Continuity was the big buzzword at Rams Park this spring, and I suspect we'll hear that term plenty more in the weeks ahead. Sure, there's a little coachspeak vibe to it, but don't totally write it off. With the core of the team now into its second season with the same coaches, the same playbooks, the same terminology, etc., it means not everyone is trying to learn it all for the first time and execute and show out for a new coaching staff.
Hopefully, that benefits the rookies too.
Wistrom also left a powerful reminder about what you see on the practice field versus what you see during a regular season game.
"I like to think I practiced as hard as I played, but you don't show those things in practice. You're not hitting the ball carrier all the way to the ground and things like that."
Wistrom also talks about practicing against a couple of offensive tackles that were pretty good: Orlando Pace and Walter Jones. It was pretty amusing to listen to him talk about going against those two. Who was a better tackle? He dodged the question, understandably so, but did say they both belong in the Hall of Fame.
He also talks about the read option's future in the NFL and how to defend it. Oh, competitive cheering gets some air time too. Give it a check.