Camp is underway here in St. Louis and we’re getting ready for our first preseason game of the year tonight against the Colts.
It was awesome to get back into St. Louis and back in the locker room with my teammates. In that locker room, it’s a bonding place that you can’t find anywhere else. The chemistry, the good times, the jokes, the pranks, some of the best memories within sports happen within the locker room and it’s only for that group of guys to have those memories.
Don’t worry. Not trying out for a new position. (Photos: Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
It was really good to see faces that I hadn’t seen in six or seven months, catch up with the guys a little bit. Each and every one of us missed each other and the game of football. It has made for an exciting first few days in St. Louis.
There are always some fun things that happen in training camp, some of it we keep between us, but there’s one fun one from the first few days of this training camp that I can share a little bit.
Our long snapper Chris Massey is the longest tenured guy on the team. He has been with the Rams for 10 years now. Well, he drives a pickup truck and one of the players put a bumper sticker on the back of his truck that was not so nice. I won’t say exactly what it said, but I can tell you all that it wasn’t something he’d want on the back of the truck.
So one of the guys put this sticker on the back there, and Massey drove around with it on there for three days. He never realized what the sticker said on the back of his truck. Since he hadn’t noticed, guys took a picture of it and before the special teams meeting, they put the picture up on the projector for everyone to laugh at and guys were asking: “Whose truck is this?” We all got a pretty good laugh out of it.
But that’s the whole feel of training camp. We know the work we have to get done on the field and when we’re not on the field or in meetings, everybody is loose and having fun.
DORMING UP IN THE HOTEL
The whole team lives in a hotel during camp and we’ve been in this hotel for two weeks now. During camp we have bed check at 11 p.m. and we have a wake-up call at 6:30 a.m. to make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to.
During camp, pretty much from sun up to sun down, we’re all pretty busy. If we’re not all on the field, walking through plays or going through practice, we’re in meetings trying to learn the new scheme. Since we have a new offensive coordinator, we’ve literally only been in this new offense for a week.
A lot of the guys have to dorm up in the hotel with a teammate, but I’m fortunate enough that I’m rooming alone now. I’ve put enough years in to be considered a veteran and I get to have a room by myself.
Living in the hotel, is kind of like being back in college…only with room service! You don’t have that luxury in a dormitory. But living with rules and having to check in for curfew, that does take me back to my younger years. We all do miss the freedom of being able to come and go for a while. But it’s a part of the football tradition of being confined within rules.
Once we’re back in the hotel, after a long day at the complex, we all kind of disperse. A lot of guys do hang out with their positional teammates. The running backs, like myself, hang out with other running backs for more bonding off the field, getting to know one another. That goes by position. But some guys will head up to their rooms so they can Skype or talk to their families or friends, talk to their kids and put them to bed.
Even though we have the responsibility of getting to know each other as teammates, we also still have the same outside world responsibilities as well. Guys have to call and check in on their wives and their kids and make sure things are being taken care of on the homefront. Some guys need their extra space to get away for a while and some guys just go back to the hotel room to get some much needed rest.
FROM THE FANS
This year on the blog, I want to hear from you guys some more and see what you want me to blog about.
So yesterday, I asked you guys to get on Twitter and Facebook and send over some questions for me to answer. I was overwhelmed with the tremendous outpouring of questions in such a short period of time and there were a lot of really good ones, so I picked out a few for this time and I’ll get to a few more next time.
The first one is from Facebook and Sean Bennett wants to know:
“As a rookie, did the veteran players play pranks on you or anything funny? What are you doing to rookies this season?”
As I wrote earlier, there’s always some sort of pranks going on in camp, but we have a special thing reserved for the rookies. Every year they have to put on something called a Rookie Show. Our rookies had theirs last night.
The Rookie Show is kind of an improv thing. They’ll make fun of different players, coaches and the personnel and staff around the team. After spending two or three weeks together in very tight confinement, you start to notice funny things about everyone and we just poke fun at each other. We get some great laughs and get to see some different personalities.
Myself personally, as a rookie, I had to go up and sing in front of the whole team a couple of different songs upon request. I’ll just say that I’m not the best singer, so I’m glad that those rookie days are behind me, because that was a long dreadful season of being mocked after that.
The second question is from Twitter and Paul Sparrow asks:
“Can you outline your daily food intake: foods, drinks etc., during the football season?”
I’m fortunate enough that my diet doesn’t change in season. I don’t have an offseason and in-season kind of diet.
I try to have a nice light breakfast and then a full lunch and a full dinner to carry me through the day. It’s pretty dull. If I do choose to have red meat, I’ll have it earlier in the day so it allows me the entire day to burn it off rather than eating a steak late at night and then sleeping on it. I’m also huge on protein and vegetables with some fruit here and there.
As for drinks, I drink a lot of water during camp. I try to drink two gallons of water a day. That’s my goal. Sometimes I hit it, sometimes I don’t, but I definitely make sure I’m always hydrated.
The last question is from Derrick Phillips on Facebook and he asked:
“Which do you enjoy more: 1) hitting daylight and breaking a long run 2) breaking a bunch of tackles and picking up hard yards, 3) doing something people might not necessarily expect from you like picking up a blitz perfectly, throwing a devastating block or making an impressive catch downfield?”
Great question. I’d have to say hitting daylight and running for a touchdown, mostly because it doesn’t happen that often in the National Football League. Everyone does their job really well in the league and most teams are coached up to the point where they know what you like to do and they take that away from you.
So you have to find those tough yards and fight. Scoring a touchdown, we all know, is not the easiest thing you can do. So any time you can break through into daylight and score a touchdown, I’ll definitely take that.
GETTING ON THE FIELD
I’m really excited to get to work with this group of guys on the field in game action tonight, to put what we’ve been working on to the test.
I think the first thing we’re all looking for out of this first game is to make sure that everyone is communicating and understanding the scheme and the system. Learning a new offense is like learning a new language. You have to work at it.
Working in the new offense is about communicating because we’re all learning a foreign language.
Of course, we want to go out there and put on a good dress rehearsal, but we still have another month to get ready for Philadelphia on opening day. This is just going to allow us to see where we are as a team and as an offense overall, what are some of the things that we’re good at already? And what are some of the things we need to work on?
Offensively, along with the new system, we want to get a look at some of the young receivers as well as our new additions along the offensive line. For those guys, it’s about how they are meshing up front and how we move the football as a unit.
I personally want to see guys compete against other opponents that aren’t our teammates and how guys perform under the pressure of lights and cameras. It’s a really big difference and some people don’t really understand that.
There are players who play really well in practice, but when it gets to game time, they lose all sense of the technique that we’ve been working on in practice. If that goes out the door when the lights go on, that’s not what you want to see. You want a guy that’s dependable, and that’s going to trust their techniques even in a pressure spot.
It’s all about making progress from practice-to-practice and game-to-game. So I’m interested to see how all of that unfolds. It’ll be a good test for everybody.
But as much as anything, I’m really excited to get out in front of our fans again in the Dome. The excitement for football is back in the city of St. Louis, and it’s so great to see it. I’ve seen the very end years of “The Greatest Show on Turf” and the way fans were excited about that team. I’ve also been here during a very lean time when not much was expected out of this team, and people were very hesitant to come out and support us.
To see the renewed spirit of football, to see fans that are excited about and proud of the team we have here to represent the city of St. Louis, it feels good. Guys definitely feed off the energy of the fans. We’ve had big crowds at practice, and we’re very anxious to get out there and show what we’ve been working on.
I’m looking forward to this being the best year of my career.