So I was in Earth City this afternoon soaking in the beautiful weather and the first football of the Season, it couldn't have been a better day. I thought I would share some of the more interesting observations I made while I was there.
1. The fans are excited! There was a huge turnout at Rams Park and the fans were a twitter with football finally here. The ohhs and ahhs were audible every time a big play happened.
2. The Team is hungry. The whole team looked good, they had that pep in their step of a team that is ready to win. Also emotions run high through camp as players fight for roster spots or as the frustration of not getting to really hit anybody builds up. Usually this takes a few practices to boil over, not this year! While it was just a few harsh words and a push back and forth, Chris Givens and Janoris Jenkins are ready to play. I took it as a good sign that both players are taking every snap even during the first day of camp as serious business.
3. Tavon is fast...really fast. I know this dead horse has had enough, but to see it in person was impressive. I think the most exciting thing is how well he controls his speed. There are a lot of players who have incredible speed, but are out of control. Tavon uses his speed to set people up. A specific example from when the team was scrimmaging came when Tavon ran a double move route. He came out of his stance at around 1/2 speed stuttered in front of Finnegan and then hit full speed in a single stride and had 5 yards of separation by the time he made the reception 40 yards down field for an easy TD. This team is going to be exciting.
4. Jared Cook is going to be targeted a ton. In the 20 or so plays that he was involved in during the scrimmage portion, he probably made 8 catches. Now I know it is only the first day of camp but if this is an indication of things to come during the regular season Cook could be in line to make 75 catches.
5. Ogletree is the real deal. He has probably put on 10-15 pounds and looks even faster than what I saw of him on film. He made several great reads one of which would have been a tackle for a 5 yard loss. I also found it interesting that Ogletree stayed on the field for the Nickle package and Dunbar stood on the sideline.
6. There were a few surprises running with the ones. One was TJ McDonald, who wasn't listed as the starter in the pre-camp release. Also Quick and Pettis seemed to split time with the Ones which I thought was interesting. Richardson was the back for all of the plays the ones ran and Pead and Stacy split carries other wise.
7. Robert Quinn looked really good. He looks to me like he bulked up some which I think will be good for his game, it should balance him out some. There was a particular thing that stood out to me. While the defensive and offensive lineman were doing one vs one drills Quinn bull rushed Jake Long and put him flat on his back. That's something we haven't seen from Quinn before, and if he can add a power rush move to his speed rush, he is going to be even more of a force.
8. Everything seemed to run smoothly. There weren't any coaches yelling at mistakes and outside of a Stacy fumble things were mostly mistake free.
9. Johnny Hekkar is going to be our backup quarter back. Yeah you read that right. Hekkar towards the end of practice lined up with the 3rd string guys and ran about a dozen plays from under center. He was actually taking snaps from under center and he looked surprisingly good. I would wager a bet that he is the only punter in the league who takes snaps from under center this camp season.
10. Ray Ray Armstrong looked good. His bulked up size looked natural on his 6'3 frame and he seemed to transition nicely to OLB. It will be interesting to see him in the first pre-season game to see how plays. Also Jabara Williams was running with the twos which I thought was interesting.
11. Our starting 5 offensive linemen look good as a group. I really hope all 5 stay healthy this year as they could be one of the best groups in the league. Chris Williams looks really good moved inside and Saffold could be the best RT in the league once he settles in. Also Harvey Dahl is a scary scary man!