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Is Donnie Avery in the mix to return kicks for the Rams?

I like that head coach Steve Spagnuolo is not holding anything back for the St. Louis Rams training camp. It's rough and tumble and exactly what this team needs to forge a new identity. If all this tough stuff works out, they may have to play outdoors eventually; a dome just somehow unbefitting of a gut-eating football team. Well, a new stadium is a long way off, but a new season is practically here. Let's round up and discuss the reports from yesterday's practice. 

It was an afternoon quickie, shorts and shells. SS James Butler was back on the field after banging his knee, but FB Mike Karney sat the p.m. session out as well. Keep an eye on Karney's status this week. Don't let the easy afternoon fool you. They still went full tilt in the a.m.

From the same report linked above, Jason Smith fared better against Leonard Little, but it doesn't count, in my mind, unless they've got the pads on. The rookie even did some work at left tackle. I suspect he'll continue to get some work on that side, maybe even in preseason games, since the Rams have to be prepared for all contingencies regarding their OTs. 

Four players did some work returning the ball. Kenneth Darby, Samkon Gado and Donnie Avery joined incumbent Derek Stanley. Darby returned seven kicks last season, averaging 24.7 yards per return; five returns were for more than 20 yards. Stanley, before getting hurt, averaged 24.8 yards on 25 returns, he had 20 returns of more than 20 yards and his longest was 70 yards. Avery returned one kick for 21 yards last year. Nothing jumps off the page here. Stanley and Darby have acceptable numbers as return men. Avery has enticing speed, but probably better to save his legs since he's the team's unquestioned #1 receiver. I'll be anxious to see if more names get thrown into the mix for the return jobs.

Heavily watched CB Tye Hill must have been available for a long chat with the press yesterday. There are dueling profiles of Hill over at the Post-Dispatch and the Belleville News Democrat. In short, he's healthy and ready to live up to the billing. Whether or not he does remains to be seen. For some insight into Hill's stuggles, check out the last edition of Turf Show Radio