St. Louis Rams training camp report: Defense wins the day

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, Chris Long and the defense were turning heads in practice.

Friday belonged to the defense at Rams Park.

"The defense made a lot of plays, got their hands on a lot of balls," head coach Jeff Fisher said following Friday's session. "We had a couple of very competitive drills, got in the plus territory and making plays."

One of the key factors propelling the defense through practice on Friday? Discipline.

"We're not making a lot of mistakes right now," Fisher said. "We're not having a lot of line of scrimmage issues. The defense is really getting off on the ball."

That's big. For as well as the defense played last season, there was plenty of room for improvement. Penalties hurt the defense last season, something we examined earlier this month. The Rams allowed 348 points last season; 183 of those points came on drives where the defense was penalized. The bulk of those were pre-snap penalties.

"Someone's going to make the play when you're competing against each other," Fisher said. "The offense either makes it or the defense makes it. So, from my perspective, those are good things. The defense got their hands on a lot of balls today. We were competing and it's good to see some of the younger DB's make some plays."

St. Louis' front seven is flying under the radar this year, even after a league-best 52 sacks last year. That group has the talent to get even better and be one of the best position groups in the league. No surprise, Chris Long's leadership is driving that unit.

"He makes a great share of his big plays with effort," Fisher said. "I think if you ask him he'd tell you that he can still do better at times with technique. He and [defensive line coach Mike Waufle] are doing a great job working together, as the rest of the guys are, and that's been the biggest improvement up front, it's been hand usage and technique with the defensive line."

This is just practice, so save the tortured hand-wringing about the offense for when games start counting.

Continuity is the buzzword this season, though it's typically associated with Sam Bradford and the offense. But the stability makes a difference on defense too -- to state the obvious -- where much of the starting lineup from 2012 remains in tact this season. Unit cohesion and continuity were visible Friday.

"It's still real early," Fisher pointed out in his remarks. "It's just Day 2."

On Sunday, the pads go on, and hitting starts. Sunday's practice is focused on special teams, and it's closed to the public. Fans will get the chance to see the full squad in pads on Monday.

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