With left tackle Jake Long lining up for a few plays Thursday, the St. Louis Rams had their projected starting offensive line together for the first time in training camp.
Long, who is returning from a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee suffered in the Rams' 23-13 win over Tampa Bay in Week 16 last season, took part in a handful of plays with the starting offense during team drills.
"Every day I am progressing and feeling better, and I finally got some live reps today," Long said. "It felt great, and I'm really happy with how the first day of live stuff went."
Long said he's right on schedule to be full speed for the Rams' season opener on Sept. 7 against the Minnesota Vikings at the Edward Jones Dome.
"Like I said all along, we had this schedule planned out since the surgery and we've been following it and as long as we don't have any setbacks we're going to keep progressing and getting better," Long said. "Today was the first step with a couple of live reps."
Long said he'd like to get see some action in either the team's second or third preseason game.
Long said he's still working on getting back to form, especially with pass blocking.
"Just getting the timing back, getting in the pass set and getting that fast-twitch off the ball for those speed rushers and just really working your explosion and getting low and bending your knees," Long said. "As days go on, the rust will knock off."
With center Scott Wells, who has been out due to an unknown injury, also taking a few snaps, the Rams' projected starting offensive line of Long, left guard Greg Robinson, Wells, right guard Rodger Saffold and right tackle Joe Barksdale did practice together for a brief period.
"We've been doing it in walk-throughs together, but doing it with live reps against our defense felt good," Long said. "The biggest thing that I've said all along is that if we keep (quarterback) Sam (Bradford) clean and upright in the pocket, he's going to sling it around.
"Having our receivers out here, this is the best I've seen them run around. They're energetic, they're catching the ball. It's really fun to watch. We're going to get our run game going. We're going to come together and get better. We can be a exciting offense."
On the defensive side, end William Hayes, who underwent hip, collarbone and ankle surgeries in the offseason, got some reps during the team period for the first time in training camp.
"It was great to have William and Jake back there," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "They've been working hard, and we're going to ease them back into it. No issues today, so they'll get some more reps tomorrow. It was good to have Jake's presence in the offensive huddle today."
Fisher said it's surprising for Long to be back so soon considering the extent of his injury.
The coached added that wouldn't have been the case back when he was playing in the early 1980s.
"It's hard to imagine because back then with a meniscus (cartilage tear) you were casted from your waist down," Fisher said. "Now you are back in three weeks. It's remarkable what they are doing. It's hard to imagine that immediately after surgery your main concern is range of motion as opposed to years ago they'd just lock you down in a cast."
Cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who missed a few days with an apparent hamstring injury, also was back practicing Thursday.
"It felt good to finally get back on the field," Johnson said. "It was a lot of mental reps for the last three or four days, so I was glad to be out there with my teammates."
Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis came off the practice field with a limp after turning an ankle. The injury didn't appear to be serious.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.