On the first day of St. Louis Rams training camp Friday, the tall guy wearing No. 5 got plenty of attention.
That would be new Rams quarterback Nick Foles, obtained from the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this year in a deal for quarterback Sam Bradford.
“Nick had a good day,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “Usually the first couple days of camp you tip your hat to the deefnsive side, they usually have the advantage. That wasn’t the case today, Nick did a nice job.”
A crowd of 1,181 fans braved the heat and visited Rams Park in Earth City, Mo., for the camp-opening practice. Practices at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and 5:30 p.m. Sunday are also free and open to the public.
“This is when it all begins, so you could tell there was a vibe,” Foles said. “Guys were excited to be out here preparing for the preseason games.”
Foles may not have been sure what to expect, but left feeling good about a practice that included some music and a decent sized crowd.
“It’s great to have the fans here,” he said. “That’s the fun part about training camp, you get to be around the fans and I’m new here so I’m getting to see a lot of them. They were very welcoming and very supportive today.”
He was supposed to come up with a music playlist for warmups Friday, but didn’t mind letting someone else pick the songs.
“I think it’s just great for rhythm,” he said. “Everybody loves music, so it’s just a way to warm up during practice ... just get the blood flowing, make sure the guys are all good and loose. I know a lot of the receivers love to dance, so while they’re waiting in line they can get their dance moves out and then go do their thing on the field.”
Fisher was also excited to get things rolling in his fourth season in St. Louis, but didn’t really feel training camp has officially begun.
“It takes shape when you see the guys walk out with pads on,” Fisher said. “This is pretty much just a repeat of the OTAs (organized team activities) that we’ve done from an installation standpoint. Overall, big picture, I’m very pleased with the conditioning and the athleticism and the energy of this football team. They’re very excited to get back.’
Fisher said defensive end Chris Long did not practice because of back tightness, while rookie offensive lineman Cody Wichmann was also sidelined with a calf injury and is on the temporary PUP (physically unable to perform) list.
Fisher knows a lot of focus will be on rookie offensive linemen Rob Havenstein (second round pick) and Jamon Brown (third-round pick), both of whom could be starting on the right side of the line.
“I think the young guys have done a really good job,” Fisher said. “I have no reservation whatsoever when we line up for the opener of playing rookie offensive linemen. They’re going to get plenty of reps.”
Fisher said even the Rams’ impressive group of defensive linemen have taken notice of the big rookies.
“They’re saying, ‘Hey, these guys are going to be good,’’ Fisher said. “Coming from Chris (Long) and Will (William Hayes) and those guys, it’s pretty impressive.”
While Fisher and Snead both said the Rams have spoken with Foles and his agent about a potential contract extension, Foles doesn’t seem distracted at all.
“Honestly I just zone it out,” he said. “That’s why you hire agents. My thing is to be here with these guys, to be a player, to be their quatrerback. We have to win ganmes. We hire agents so that clears the clutter out of our brains.
“I trust them to do the job. I love it here, I love the players, I love the coaches. It’s a great place to play -I haven’t even played a game here yet and I love it. That (contract) will take care of itself, I’m just excited to be out here playing.”
Local coach up close and personal
Mascoutah High defensive coordinator Keith Albers watched Rams practice Friday from right next to the field as part of the team’s continued effort to work with regional high school coaches and programs.
“There’s just so much to learn about the game and the way we teach it,” said Albers ,joined by other high school coaches from throughout the St. Louis region. “You look at the attention to detail in practice and the minutiae that each of the coaches are going through with their guys ... it’s really, really fascinating to see.”
Albers said he tries to participate in as many Rams outreach programs as possible.
“I can’t imagine any NFL team, any NFL city, giving the kind of access that we’re given,” Albers said. “The Rams and (Director Of External Affairs) Kyle Eversgerd in particular, and Coach Fisher with his clinic, which I’ve been to two years in a row, it’s great. We’re allowed to be out here.
“We’re in the meeting rooms, we get to speak to position coaches and they’re showing us stuff. There’s no way in the world any other NFL city or any other NFL organization gives this kind of commitment to the local football.”
Eversgerd is a former Mater Dei High quarterback who later played at McKendree.
As a defensive coordinator, Albers marveled at the speed displayed by Rams defensive end Robert Quinn.
“As a fan, too, it’s fun to watch the dudes that can really, really go,” Albers said. “But the thing that’s the biggest takeaway - and the thig that I try to take back to my kids - is these guys are out 30 minutes before practice working the same thing over and over.”
Rams Open Practice Schedule
at Rams Park, Earth City, Mo.
* 3:30 p.m. Saturday
* 5:30 p.m. Sunday
* 3:30 p.m. Aug. 4
* 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6
* 5 p.m. Aug. 7 (open scrimmage at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.)
* 3:30 p.m. Aug. 9
* 3:30 p.m. Aug. 10
* 5:30 p.m. Aug. 11