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St. Louis Rams Training Camp News & Notes, August 2

The St. Louis Rams conducted their eighth full-squad training camp practice of 2014 on Saturday, holding their annual FanFest, which features an extended scrimmage period and events for fans at the Edward Jones Dome. The team went through a two-and-a-half-hour workout, wearing shoulder pads and engaging in some full-contact drills. As should be the case when a large group of fans are in attendance, this was one of the more exciting practices of camp so far. Here are a few notes from Saturday’s workout.

  • There were a bunch of injuries that prevented players from taking part in the practice Saturday, though some of them seemed to be more precautionary than anything. As has been the case throughout camp, rookie seventh-rounder Christian Bryant did not practice as he continues to recover from a broken ankle suffered last year. Undrafted free agents Pat Schiller, Kadeem Jones, Trey Watts, Johnny Millard, and Jarrid Bryant did not participate. Also not participating were guard Brandon Washington, defensive lineman William Hayes, rookie defensive back Lamarcus Joyner, starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins, offensive lineman Barrett Jones, guard Rodger Saffold, and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis, who’s been an ironman throughout his career and historically does not miss practices, was wearing a walking boot on Saturday, which probably does not bode well for his chances of participating in next Friday’s preseason opener.
  • Rookie center Demetrius Rhaney suffered a lower-body injury which initially looked to be serious, but he later returned to practice and participated in team drills. The seventh-rounder’s absence would have been rough for the Rams, as Tim Barnes was the only other center who was a full go on Saturday. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers also sustained a leg injury during team drills but walked off under his own power.
  • Offensive tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells took a few snaps with the starting offensive line during team drills, but for the most part were absent from Saturday’s workout.
  • Second-year offensive weapon Tavon Austin, who rushed for 643 yards during his senior year at West Virginia, got extended snaps at running back and flashed some impressive skills.
  • With Laurinaitis out, Jo-Lonn Dunbar shifted inside to the “Mike” position, while Ray Ray Armstrong got reps with the starters in Dunbar’s vacated outside ‘backer position.
  • The absence of guys like Laurinaitis and Schiller during Saturday’s workout, two guys near the bottom end of the depth chart, Lawrence Wilson and Aaron Hill, got more reps to prove themselves and made some quality plays. Hill ran back an interception all the way during team drills.
  • Stedman Bailey continues to make some great catches during practice sessions. If the second-year wideout stays in shape during his four-week suspension to start the year, he could end up being a big contributor when he ultimately returns.
  • When the Rams took Mitchell Van Dyk out of Portland State in the seventh round of this year’s draft, many of us assumed that he would be another guy who Jeff Fisher‘s staff would attempt to develop into a Jon Runyan clone at tackle. But while Van Dyk has spent some time at tackle during the early days of camp, he’s spent a lot of time at left guard. With fellow tackles Sean Hooey and Mike Person getting most of the backup reps, the Rams may feel that guard is a better position for Van Dyk, who ended up being about three inches shorter than the 6-foot-9 listing that Portland State had for him on their roster last year.
  • Undrafted rookie defensive end Ethan Westbrooks appears to be recovered from the hamstring injury that sidelined him at the start of camp, as he participated in both one-on-one pass rushing drills and the team session today. He flashed some nice quickness from the right end position. Westbrooks has a shot to make the team, but he might have to beat out fellow rookie Michael Sam, who has had some very impressive moments during the first week of camp.
  • Running back Tre Mason, who said prior to camp that he would be pushing for the starting role immediately, has not established himself as much as he probably wanted to. Mason was getting reps on Saturday with a group of young backups that also included players like quarterback Austin Davis, wide receivers T.J. Moe and Austin Franklin, and tight end Alex Bayer.
  • Neither of the Rams’ young backup quarterbacks, Davis or Garrett Gilbert, has really shown any reason for excitement thus far. It should be interesting to see how both of them perform during the preseason, and if the Rams feel the need to keep either of them as a third-stringer on the 53-man roster.
  • Despite the coaching staff’s declaration during the spring that running back Isaiah Pead would be an important part of several special teams units thus far, it doesn’t really seem like he’s much of a priority at the moment. Pead has been dealing with a hand injury recently, but was healthy on Saturday. Despite the fact that Watts and Jones, two undrafted rookie backs, both missed practice, Pead barely saw any reps from scrimmage. Pead’s fellow special teams ace, Chase Reynolds, seems to be getting more of an opportunity. It’s going to be very intriguing to see if Pead ultimately makes the regular season roster.

Tags: 2014 NFL Training Camp St. Louis Rams

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