Few have a better opportunity to gauge the effectiveness of St. Louis Rams rookie offensive tackle Rob Havenstein and rookie guard Jamon Brown than the Rams’ highly effective and veteran defensive line.
They’re facing the rookies in practice every day and defensive end Chris Long gave both of them high marks when asked to provide an early assessment Tuesday at training camp.
“I like those guys,” Long said. “The guard keeps getting better and better and I know people are really happy with him. Will(defensive end William Hayes) and I think the tackle has a lot of potential and he’ll be solid for us.
“Two or three years from now he’ll be very good, I really believe that. This year he’s just got to be good. He’s a rookie and he’ll have his ups and downs, but he’s fully capable of doing that.”
At 6-foot-8 and 321 pounds, the former Wisconsin All-American Havenstein occupies a lot of space but is still being thrown into a learning fire like other rookies in camp. He and Brown (6-6, 323) have the added pressure of being penciled in as potential starters, not an easy transition in a league full of blitzes and dominant pass rushers.
“He’s athletic, he’s big, he’s long and he’s coachable,” Long said of Havenstein. “He’s a hard worker.”
Long said one job of the Rams’ defensive line will be aiding the rookie linemen in any way possible. That might be testing them with a variety of moves and rushes in camp, or serving as a sounding board.
“If he’s got questions — and he’s had a couple — I’m here to help him,” Long said.
Another rookie offensive tackle with potential is Isaiah Battle, the former Clemson standout selected by the Rams in the NFL supplemental draft. rams coach Jeff Fisher was asked about his early progress at training camp.
“He’s still behind,” Fisher said. “He’s talented, but he’s behind from a scheme standpoint. So understandably, he’s going to be a step slower at everything he does until he feels positive about his responsibility.
“But athletically, he’s here because he has all of those traits. He’s long and he’s athletic. He lacks lower body strength right now and we’re pushing him through that. We’ll see how he is in a couple of weeks and expect him to play quite a bit in preseason games.”
Peacock visits Rams Park
While the focus of most fans’ attention Tuesday at Rams Park was the first full-squad, full-gear practice of training camp, a visitor attracted plenty of attention as well.
That visitor was Dave Peacock, the former Anheuser-Busch executive who is serving as one of the front men for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s task force trying to build a new football stadium on the riverfront.
Peacock did a television interview, chatted with Rams General Manager Les Snead as well as Rams Executive Vice President Kevin Demoff.
Rams make a move
With cornerback Brandon McGee still out with a foot injury, the Rams on Tuesday released wide receiver Devon Wylie and signed former Auburn and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Trovon Reed. Reed, 24, is 6-foot and 190 pounds and also is a converted receiver.
In addition, Fisher said cornerback E.J. Gaines will be sent to Dr. Robert Anderson for further testing after a foot injury suffered Sunday in practice.
Safety Mark Barron (knee) participated in individual drills but not the full workouts.
Rams punter enjoys soccer, too
Rams punter Johnny Hekker spent part of his offseason working out with the new Saint Louis FC, a local professional outdoor soccer team based at St. Louis Soccer Park that competes in the United Soccer League.
“I had a great time,” Hekker said. “That’s an amazing team add to St. Louis soccer is very prevalent, has a big following here. Having that soccer team here is going to be great for the community.”
The adventurous Hekker, an All-Pro punter whose soccer career consisted primarily of a church soccer league up until fifth grade, took an active role when he attended a game.
“I went to a game and got to shoot some PKs (penalty kicks) with their goalie, Mark (Pais),” Hekker said. “He’s actually from Ladue, really good guy, local kid. They’re just working hard and grinding out some wins this season, which is fun to see for an expansion team.”
Hekker enjoyed getting a chance to hang out with the team’s raucous fan section, the St. Louligans.
“They’re fanatics, which is awesome to see in the soccer world,” Hekker said. “They’re a pretty special breed of people, so they’re fun to hang out with for sure.”