Although training camp has been open for business for nearly a week, Saturday’s scrimmage and first-ever Rams Fan Fest provided fans their first real opportunity to get an up close glimpse of the new-look Rams led by coach Jeff Fisher in the friendly confines of the Edward Jones Dome.
Judging by the nearly 13,000 fans that came early and stayed late to take part in all that the day had to offer, there are plenty of people excited about seeing what the next era of Rams football will provide to the city and its fans.
“Obviously, we’re trying to change our reputation, our image in the city,” quarterback
The Fan Fest welcomed a trove of season ticket holders into the doors of the Edward Jones Dome beginning at 10 and it seemed there was an unending stream of fans making their way into the dome from then right up until the start of practice at 12:30.
At one point, the line for fans hoping for a tour of the locker room snaked out of the hallways and out past midfield on the Edward Jones Dome turf.
General manager Les Snead took the microphone around 12:15 and addressed the fans with some inspirational words.
Snead emphasized just how important it is for the fans to support the team, even harkening back to his days as an executive in Atlanta when the Falcons would have to play the Rams in St. Louis during the days of the Greatest Show on Turf.
“It was hard to play in here,” Snead said. “You all can be an extra defender for us. We’ve got a really young football team but we are all a Ram Pack, we can help raise the cubs together.”
Snead went on to emphasize that he doesn’t view the turnaround of the Rams as a rebuilding project, especially some sort of process that is going to take years to accomplish.
“We want to win championships as soon as possible,” Snead said.
Soon after that, the team stepped on the field and went through the regular motions of a run-of-the-mill practice.
There wasn’t much about the “scrimmage” portion of the practice that was actually a scrimmage but the Rams got the work done that Fisher had mentioned wanting to do on Friday.
That meant a lot of situational drills and opportunities to see his players in different formats. When the individual work, special teams efforts, seven on sevens and one on ones were done, the Rams turned up the intensity to get into some team drills.
“It was really good,” Fisher said. “I think they were kind of looking forward to this because we kind of finished up the first phase of camp and what we wanted to accomplish today was a lot of situation things. We did a four-minute offense, where you try to get the ball back on defense and play keep away on offense and then of course we did the two minute, a lot of good individual work with one on one situations. Overall it was good work.”
For most of the early part of team drills, the day belonged to the defense as the offenses found it hard to move the ball, especially in the four-minute drills.
After a brief field goal kicking interlude in which rookie kicker
Gibson skied for the ball and came down with it for a 28-yard gain that setup a 3-yard touchdown pass to wideout
Bradford said there had been an emphasis on improving the two minute drill work in meetings the past couple of nights.
“It’s something we talked about and wanted to carry over on to the field and that’s what we did today,” Bradford said.
Despite some of the offensive struggles early in the practice and the past couple of days, Fisher believes that both sides of the ball are on the right path.
“I think both sides of the ball are pretty much on pace,” Fisher said. “We’ve got a lot of work yet to do and we’ve got to fine tune some things and we’ve got some tired legs after the first week and we’ll have a better idea after the first preseason game but I think we’re on track.”
When the two and half hour workout was complete, the entire team covered the entire lower bowl, signing autographs for the fans for the better part of the next half hour.
Now, the Rams will get Sunday off and return to the practice field on Monday at 3:30 back at the ContinuityX Training Center.
This week will look a bit different as the Rams begin preparations for their first preseason game a week from tomorrow in Indianapolis.
Getting the opportunity to practice at the Edward Jones Dome was beneficial for reasons beyond connecting with the fanbase, too, according to running back
“I actually prefer it,” Jackson said. “It actually acts as a dress rehearsal for next week. Getting ready for Indy and the preseason game, there’s a lot of young guys. To be in our venue for the first time, so they can get that out of the way so when it’s time to win jobs in the next four or five weeks, they just really can hone in on the game and not think about being in awe of the venue.”
As for the turnout of the fans and the vocal support they received before, during and after the practice, Fisher and his team hope it was only the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
“We were excited,” Fisher said. “I was told there was almost 13,000 people here and so we were excited that they came out to see what we’re about. And we’ll continue that by inviting them to come out to training camp. We encourage them to come out and of course we need their support in the preseason.”
After signing autographs for his many fans, Jackson agreed with his coach.
“I think we are taking a step in the right direction,” Jackson said. “I believe Coach Fisher that what he has brought to the team, brought to the community; you can see the excitement in our fans. We had a huge turnout today and I think from what the fans saw, they saw a new type of team that is very aggressive, very confident in what we are doing and looking for a change.”