Happy July, sports fans! Isn't summer just flying by? Normally, my answer to that would be a vociferous "NO!," but something wonderful is happening in the hills of Pennsylvania. While I still impatiently lie in wait for the return of football, I can't help but be giddy over the potential for something that I have never witnessed in my young adult life. The Pittsburgh Pirates are scoring runs and winning baseball games. Now, while you pick your jaw up from the floor, let's talk Rams.
It's finally here. The month of fireworks, cookouts and football practice has come. In just over three weeks, all 32 NFL teams will hit the field, brushing up on their playbooks and re-acclimating themselves to competition. Life is good.
Training camp should help to paint a clearer picture of where the St. Louis Rams currently stand as a team - in relation to the rest of the league - and when this franchise will finally be considered "turned around." People's opinions vary when talk surfaces about the quality, depth and talent of this team, but no one disputes that they are headed on the right course under Jeff Fisher. He's one of the most proven coaches in league history, despite - for the time being - having never won a Super Bowl. Links after the jump...
Ranking NFL teams' new head coaches - Seven teams are heading into the 2012 season with a new head honcho. None, however, have the credentials and experience of Rams head coach, Jeff Fisher. Only a couple - Romeo Crennel and Mike Mularkey - have ever been an NFL head coach, and neither boast the same level of past success as St. Louis' mustached law enforcer. You see where I'm going with this. NFL.com ranks Fisher No. 1 on this list. Who here disagrees?
Kendricks looks to breakout in second season - Lance Kendricks, the Rams' second-round pick in 2011, has a lot riding on this coming season. After looking like an all-star in preseason, he appeared antsy and not confident as the year progressed. Offensive coordinator Brian Shottenheimer believes that the Rams do in fact have young, quality tight end prospect in Kendricks, and expects to put emphasis on the former Wisconsin standout in the offense. One could say that he hit the dreaded "rookie wall" - appearing tired in sluggish on occasion - but his struggles truly began to pile up back week one against Philadelphia. Hopefully, the Rams' plethora of tight ends competing for roster spots in camp will light a fire under Lance Kendricks.
Rams announce open practice schedule - The Rams will officially begin training camp on July 24, when the rookies will report for their first taste of real NFL practice. The full team will meet the following day. Starting on the 29th, the team has scheduled a series of 15 total practices that will be open to the public. Autograph signings will be allocated to the fans after each of those practices. I encourage anyone who is able to attend a day or two, take pictures and notes, and give us all breakdown of what you witnessed and thought. I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say it would be greatly appreciated.
Why the Rams need help at OLB - If you are still wondering why the Rams have so drastically failed to address their poor outside linebacker situation in the past, it's simply because they haven't tended to the problem. Mike Sando so graciously points out that St. Louis has not drafted an OLB earlier than the seventh round since using a third-round choice on Jon Alston in 2006. Alston appeared in three games in a Rams uniform. They are the only team in the league who hasn't drafted any linebacker between rounds three and six since 2007, a distinction only slightly improved by James Laurinaitis' second-round selection in 2009.
Niners Aldon Smith stabbed at house party - One of last year's breakout rookie sensations, San Francisco linebacker, Aldon Smith was reportedly stabbed with a pocket knife while trying to break up a fight. The team describes his injuries as minor. After also being arrested on charges of a DUI earlier this offseason, Smith is quickly building an unpleasant track record in his young career.
Need a teaser for the upcoming season to keep you going in these dull times? I found this little gem on the YouTubes. Enjoy, and be patient!