A crop of first-year players, and a handful of holdovers in their second season, took to the practice field at Rams Park on Monday. It was mostly for conditioning, and a basic round of drills. But it was close enough to the real thing to call it training camp. Head coach Jeff Fisher was pleased with the shape of his rookies, fresh off summer vacation.
"I thought they did an outstanding job this morning in the conditioning test," Fisher said. "We didn't have any issues at all. So clearly they left and worked hard. They're excited to be back. They were kind of quiet in the team meeting this morning with the realization that the summer was over and here we go. But, we got them loosened up in the shuttle test. Since then they've been good."
All the rookies passed their conditioning test, everyone showed up in shape. It's a small bit of news, but one the Rams welcomed.
The one exception was offensive lineman Barrett Jones. He's still recovering from a lisfrac injury, one that he played through during his last season at Alabama, including the National Championship thumping of Notre Dame. Jones is "close," but the Rams placed him on the non-football injury list. Fisher expected him to be ready in "a week or two."
Official practice time with coaches and players on the field at the same time is more limited than it was before the 2011 CBA. It's a something Fisher points out often. It also makes it even more essential that players stay in shape.
"Right now in the National Football League you can't spend time getting your team in shape," Fisher said. "They have to come in in shape. This next two days, if you ask the veterans, this is when they are in the best shape year round is these next couple days. You have to maintain that through camp, so that's what we try to do."
So, players arriving in shape is an early win for a Rams team with big expectations.
As for the rookies, they gave Monday's session a thumbs up.
"You know that's one thing I love to do," Tavon Austin admitted, "pretty much speaks for itself, my energy level out there. It just feels good to be back out here with all the brothers and hopefully we can get something going on.
"Pretty much to go ahead and work hard," Austin said of Fisher's message to players. "The main thing is he's trying to get us caught up with the vets for when they come back, get everything back in motion. That's what we're doing right now."
Veterans are due at Rams Park on Wednesday, though most are already floating around. The first full squad practice is set for Thursday at 3:30 p.m.