Many, many things have hastened the St. Louis Rams offense off the field these last few years. A dropped pass, a quarterback sack there, but few things stung quite like ill-timed penalties. These days at Rams Park, a false start penalty will get you chased off the field, along with a sizable chuck of derriere flesh from offensive line coach Paul Boudreau.
Boudreau was brought back to St. Louis for his touch with offensive linemen. Over the years, he has developed a reputation as a coach known for extracting the best out of his players. The offensive line coach's tactics have been on display for all the world to see in the early days of training camp.
Jason Smith and a list of others have been sent on an extra trip around the field by Boudreau, part of strenuous program of inoculation by way of motivational tactic.
Fisher gave his position coach all the credit for the move.
"Yeah, that's Boo's," Fisher revealed. "If it becomes an epidemic, instead of coming out then they'll take a trip around the field. That was kind of our philosophy, so Boo's got that pretty much under control."
Having seen the tape on the 2011 season for the offensive line, a remedial course in the basics looks like it could be helpful. Rodger Saffold was Alex Barron-like with 11 penalties. Smith had four in six games. A few less penalties could easily translate into a few more successful trips inside the red zone.
Boudreau bouncing a few linemen off the field was only part of the story. Listening to the breathless descriptions of the defensive linemen tearing down the pocket from snap to snap may not sound like progress, but it is there said Fisher with a promise of even more from the front five when things got a little more violent later this week.
"They're working hard<" Fisher said. "The one thing that's encouraging me is I know they can't wait to put the shoulder pads on because they've been the recipients of everything this offseason. That's the nature of the game when you practice without pads. So, a couple more days and it'll be payback time."
The line's grasp of the basics has also improved elsewhere on the scouting report.
"They're communicating well up front," Fisher said. Unit consistency should get even better when Scott Wells returns to action.
Boudreau's bunch has a long way to go before they inspire confidence. Fewer extra trips on and off the field for the big men will at least be a sign progress.