It's a beeb a busy weekend of football, from the Hall of Fame festivities to the preseason opener in Canton. Closer to home, this Saturday was the annual FanFest and team scrimmage at the Edward Jones Dome.
1. Stedman Bailey impresses
The most talked about player from Saturday's scrimmage has been the second-year wideout who will unfortunately be on the bench for the first four games of the season. He and Sam Bradford had a mind-meld on the field for the scrimmage.
Stedman Bailey was Bradford's favorite target with 5 receptions on 7 throws. #RamsFanFest— " Mathieu Debuchy " (@WoozyVirtuoso) August 2, 2014
"Sted made a lot of plays today. He's there. He knows how to get open, and knows how to make the plays," Jeff Fisher said.
Bradford talked up Bailey after practice too.
"Sted's looked good all camp," Bradford said. "He's a very smart receiver. He's always in the right place. He's got a great instinct, just about feeling different zones and getting open. I think he's going to be a big target in the offense this year and I think it showed today. He caught a lot of balls out here today."
That's great to hear. The key for Bailey and the Rams offense will be doing that against more physical coverage, getting pressed at the line, etc., something that isn't part of a non-tackling portion of practice.
Kenny Britt caught a touchdown pass too. Brian Quick did not play, and Bradford and Tavon Austin reportedly struggled in making a connection.
2. Bradford's throwing well
Again, he's got a red jersey on, so there's only so much to glean from practice reports, but the early returns on Bradford's arm and overall health are positive.
Sam Bradford ends the day 20/26 (77%) with only 4 check downs. His best day in my eyes. (7 and 11's) #RamsFanFest— " Mathieu Debuchy " (@WoozyVirtuoso) August 2, 2014
"He's throwing very well," Fisher said. "We're watching the pitch counts right now and he's not having any problems and you can see those balls were humming today, especially the deep ball to Kenny."
3. The running backs
It was mostly Zac Stacy with the first team at practice on Saturday. However, Tavon Austin did line up in the backfield on a few snaps.
Tre Mason didn't even do RB v. LB pass-rush drills. Tavon Austin taking carries with starting O in offset-I. Mason may be rookie non-factor.— Nick Mensio (@NickMensio) August 2, 2014
Mason did get some work in the live tackling portion of practice, which was mostly filled with backups (something else to note when you're reading the performance evaluations).
Nick Wagoner brought up a good point about blitz pickup drills, noting that the group was struggling against linebackersin that exercise. With such an inexperienced group of running backs, that's something to keep an eye.
Michael Brockers was injured during Saturday's practice.
Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch noted that it looked like an ankle injury, not a serious one. That's something to keep an eye on too. Brockers dealt with a high ankle sprain his rookie season that put him on the shelf to start the year and slowed him down all year long. Fortunately, the Rams happen to be pretty deep on the defensive line, as you may have heard.
Other players not practicing were:
Hamstrings and other assorted "soft tissue" injuries start to add up this time of year. The Rams are usually extra cautious with their guys in training camp too. None of these injuries sound serious, but there's a concern when it comes to missing reps, especially for rookies and younger players looking to bounce back from last season.
Something else to watch as camp rolls on, Laurinaitis is wearing a boot on the ankle that got stepped on at practice this week. That's how players get high ankle sprains, which can put them on the bench for a month in some cases. There's no word yet on Laurinaitis' ankle and early reports from practice when he hurt it said it looked minor. Here's hoping they're right.
5. This defense ...
It wasn't live tackling, but the starting defense stuffed the offense twice in a row on at the two-yard line. But it was rookie Aaron Donald that everyone was talking and tweeting about.
Aaron Donald is wreaking havoc. Easily has a couple sacks and shot through the gap for a 4-yard loss in goal-line defense. #RamsScrimmage— Nick Mensio (@NickMensio) August 2, 2014
"Donald made a big play, which we expect out him at the goal line, in the second goal line live period," Jeff Fisher said. "We’re expecting those kind of things out of them."