The St. Louis Rams are excited. No, really, they are. A young team with the world as its oyster, is ready to crack open that shell against the Arizona Cardinals this week.
"Obviously, they're very excited about it," Jeff Fisher said when asked for the second day in a row about his young team's level of enthusiasm.
Sure, the youngsters are ready to start the season this Sunday, but all that excitement has to be channeled in a positive direction so as not to overwhelm the green players.
"We'll keep them rested and hydrated, but, yeah, they just need to keep their heart rate down and just relax," Fisher said. "That's the key for the young guys - just relax and go play hard."
It's a process. From training camp to the preseason through preparations for the Cardinals, the Rams have been building up to this point. The idea, says Fisher, is to open the season at a level on par with what outsiders might call "mid-season form."
"We put a great deal of emphasis on [Week 1] throughout camp because you have to get to a peak and you have to be ready for it," Fisher said. "Then you just play them one at a time. Obviously, it's important for everybody in the league to get off to a fast start, and that's what we're hopeful for."
Factor in a Week 1 game at home against an NFC West rival, and it ratchets up the stakes that much more for the coaches and players.
"We're looking forward to it," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "A division game, a good defense, new scheme. So again, there will be some wrinkles that we haven't seen because they obviously didn't show everything in the preseason. But, it'll be a fun game. I think it'll be a great atmosphere."
Fisher noted the advantage to having the season opener at home, one that should benefit the Rams' aggressive defense.
"It's difficult for an opposing offense to communicate when you've got a defensive line like we do and it's loud," Fisher said. "It puts a lot of pressure on the defensive line, so we like to keep it as loud as we can for as long as we can."
Practice wrapped early Friday, but there's still more to do before the Rams reach their "peak" on Sunday afternoon.
"We still have some things that you do between now and kickoff," Fisher said. "We'll just have a final walk-thru tomorrow. They understand that the key to this thing early is going to be our ability to adjust just because we won't be able to necessarily predict what we're going to see."
That's not entirely true. Ticket sales have been positive, and "Fill the Dome" is trending locally on Twitter. Fisher's team can at least count on a crowd of fans eager to see what the second season of a reborn franchise has to offer.
"The only thing better than playoff football in the National Football League is opening day and opening weekend," Fisher said. "Having an opportunity to open at home is a great opportunity."