Jim Thomas Rams Chat Highlights: July 29

—UDFA Standouts? Deantre Harlan, the DT from tiny Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla., has shown some quickness on the interior. Alex Bayer, the TE from Iowa, isn’t spectacular at anything, but does a lot of things well. At this point, I think he has a chance at the No. 4 TE job _ assuming the Rams keep 4 TEs. RB Trey Watts, has a little wiggle and some burst. Those are just a few.

—You haven’t heard anything about Westbrooks because he hasn’t been practicing. He’s on the non-football injury list. He gets that designation because the injury occurred away from Rams Park. He suffered a hamstring injury while training on his own during the summer break.

—Aaron Donald, the DT from Pittsburgh, looks very, very good. He’s very quick. It’ll be interesting to see how he does going against the o-linemen in pads. That starts today, in the first full-squad practice in pads. Tre Mason, the RB from Auburn, also has looked impressive. Quick feet, good instincts. Again,, we’ll see how he looks in pads.

—How has Donald Looked? Maybe better than advertised.

—Q: Hearing Donald is a terror – cant be blocked on 2nd unit, giving starting OL fits as well. A: Your hearing is good.

—Parade meter still at 9 at this point. And let’s review the rules. Heeding the advice of a chatter a year ago, the Parade Meter can change only up to the first game of the regular season. Then it’s set in concrete for the rest of the year, for better or worse.

—Bradford was a little rusty Friday. But he was better on Saturday, and looked really sharp on Sunday. He’s moving around well; doesn’t seem to be favoring the knee at all. Jake Long is doing individual drills, but no “team” drills at this point. He seems to be moving well in the drills he participates in. The plan is to gradually work him into game-day form, and possibly play in the second or third preseason game.

—UDFA’s that have looked good? I mentioned a few in one of my earlier answers: DT Harlan, RB Watts, and TE Alex Bayer. At this point, I think Bayer has the best chance of the three to make the 53. Greg Reid’s had some moments at CB.

—Nothing against Tinoisamoa, who was very productive but as you mentioned undersized. But Laurinaitis isn’t undersized at 248 pounds. Laurinaitis also is extremely durable. He’s only missed a handful of snaps in his first 5 NFL seasons.

—Jenkins? He hasn’t looked bad. But more often than not, he’s been in tight coverage and just missed making the play. He needs to make players.

—Usually it’s the strong safety who gets the TE.. And that would be T.J. McDonald. Usually it’s the nickel back who gets the slot WR, which would be Lamarcus Joyner. We’ll see. But I do think it’s fair to question the coverage skills of the safeties at this point.

—Well, they’re mixing and matching WR’s constantly in practice. I do like that “big” formation they use with Quick, Britt, and Cook _ all 6-3 or taller.

—D’Marco Farr compared to Donald –Yeah, they do have a lot of similarities. Keep in mind, even though D’Marco went undrafted he was no slouch. He was the Pac-10 defensive player of the year coming out. D’Marco has a little wider, how should I put this, anchor.

—Joyner should be the nickel back. Alexander, especially with his late start because o knee surgery, projects more as a special teamer this year.

—The Rams have a pair of highly-credentialed backup tackles in Greg Robinson and Rodger Saffold.

—If the Rams leave, I don’t think it’ll be right after the lease expires this year. I think the Rams will go several seasons on a year-to-year lease before anything happens.

—Robinson looks pretty good; has had some blips on pass-blocking, especially working at LT. As for keeping everyone at the same position, I remember that from OTAs, and that’s basically what happened in OTAs. I think they’re just getting GRob some reps at LT, and giving Saffold a refresher course there as well in case Long isn’t ready. As for Barrett Jones, he’s been getting reps with the first_ and second unit at center.

—I don’t think Jenkins looks as bad as some apparently have indicated. In fact, from what I’ve seen _ and I’m not watching him every play _ he looks average to me. Not bad. But I think the entire secondary as a whole remains a big question mark.

—A healthy OL should be pretty good. Too early to tell on secondary and WRs. That probably doesn’t make you feel better. But at least the weather is great.

—Fisher hinted pretty strongly before the start of camp that Bradford probably wouldn’t play in the opener. But that’s as far as he went on that. Since he hasn’t played in a game since October, you’d think Bradford would have to get at least some work in preseason.

—Who backs up McLeod? That’s a good question on McLeod. And I think it’s still getting sorted out as camp and the preseason progress. Off the top of my head, Joyner could move back there. I do think special teams should be crisper, meaning fewer penalties at the start of the season. Usually refs come in for a few days. As for Robinson holding, I remember some draftniks mentioning that pre-draft. I can’t say that it’s come up in camp.

—Fisher likes this team _ that’s the sense I get. Whether he’ll feel that way in October or November remains to be seen.

—RB that can be trusted on 3rd down? When I think about it, I don’t think I can flat-out give you one name. There’s a lot of unproven in the backfield when it comes to third down. Stacy improved his pass-blocking as the season went on, and is so-so as a pass-catcher. That’s about as far as I can go.

—Yeah, just a tad early. But as we sit here today, I’m still looking or help in the secondary in the 2015 draft.

—Stacey/Mason Work Load? I think the mix will be closer than 80 Stacey/20 Mason _ maybe 65-35. Just a guess. It’s possible Mason could be worked in slowly in the early games. And you have to factor in that this is still a position of flux. As good as Stacy was last year, it’s not like he’s been the established back for several years. Who knows, by midseason, maybe Mason is the starter. And don’t forget about Benny Cunningham.

—I think Lanford and Brockers open the season as starters, and Donald comes into the rotation on passing down. Haven’t watched Carrington a lot _ remember, there’s 90 guys out there. The few plays that I have, he has looked just OK. But the coaches, particularly Waufle, really like him.

—There’s been a fair amount of chatter on Robinson actually. But he’s the type of player whose plusses will stand on more in pads when his size and strength should shine. There aren’t many fully-padded practice in camp under the new CBA, but today is one of them. So far, Robinson looks fine. As I’ve mentioned several times (in print, on the radio, etc.) he has had a few blips in pass-blocking, but when he’s playing LT _ which he has a lot so far in camp _ he’s been going up a pretty good one in Robert Quinn.

—Rams could be mediocre again, but they haven’t been awful since 2011.

—Pass on Austin in Draft do over? No, I liked Tavon Austin a lot coming out. And would still take him.

—Rams moving or staying? 55-45 staying _ which is what I’ve been saying for months.

—Bradford was playing well when he got hurt. I think he can be an effective NFL quarterback.

—The simplest way I can put it, is that Williams’ defense will be more aggressive. Especially on third down. Especially when it comes to blitzing.

—Who will start at LT if JLong Can’t go? I don’t know if that has been determined yet by the staff. But it seems more logical to put Saffold over there at LT and keep Robinson at LG at this point. That’s because your third guard is Davin Joseph, who has basically played his whole career at right guard.

—Does Sam make the 53? The longer Ethan Westbrooks is on the non-football injury list with a hamstring injury, the better Sam’s chances become. Sam is off to a pretty good start so far.

—EJ Gaines a starter by the end of the year? Can’t see that happening at this point.

—McDonald and McLeod are the starters. McDonald was shaky before his injury, but I thought he played pretty well when he got back.

—Joyner? He has the potential to be a better version of Finnegan _ I mean Finnegan in his prime. (And without the Finnegan histrionics.)

—I think Warner gets into the Hall of Fame first ballot. He’s up for selection for the first time after this season. As for the Rams and Warner we all know about the divorce with Martz. Spagnuolo and Linehan didn’t want anything to do with the Greatest Show players. As for the Ring of Honor in the Dome, I think initially it was meant to be for Hall of Fame players (and coaches) only but that changed somewhat over the years. I’m sure Warner’s name will be up in the Dome at some point.

—I think the Rams are very happy with what they’ve got at running back with Stacy, Mason, and Cunningham among others. Trey Watts has shown a little something as well. I they keep
four backs _ not counting Reynolds _ it would have to be Watts that unseats Pead.

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Jim Thomas Rams Training Camp Update –Radio Interview

Jim Thomas talks with Frank Cusumano about the Rams. He talks about the Warner visit over the weekend and the stadium situation. Britt and Quick have stood out at WR. Michael Sam is off to a good start and is benefiting from Westbrooks being out. Alec Ogletree works really hard and has matured…he looks different. JT thinks he has the potential to be the Rams next defensive star.

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Rams News Daily Summary: July 29

Hayes Close to Return After Offseason in Body Shop –PD
Let’s hope William Hayes got a volume discount, because he’s recovering from not one, not two, but three offseason operations.

Rams Notebook: Rookie Sam Continues to Make Progress –PD
Rams rookie defensive end Michael Sam continues to work toward earning a spot on the 53-man roster.

Rams Practice Recap: Joyner Makes a Statement –St.LouisRams.com
The Rams sported shoulder pads as a 90-man roster for the first time today in front of a crowd of over 1,000 dedicated fans at Rams Park in Earth City, Mo.

Rams Report: First full-squad day in Pads Results in Big Plays –PD
The Rams went through their first full-squad padded workout _ helmets, shoulder pads and shorts _ Tuesday afternoon before 1,678 fans at Rams Park in Earth City. And coach Jeff Fisher liked what he saw.

Rams Camp Report: Day 5 –Wagoner
The Rams put the shoulder pads on for the first time in this training camp Tuesday afternoon and it resulted in a little bit more of an even playing field.

Rams’ Offensive Line in Better Position to Combat Injury –Stalter
The Rams have durability issues along their offensive line. Pauses until reader picks himself off the ground.

Jim Fadler’s Day 5 Training Camp Report: July 29

Jeff Fisher Post Practice Press Conference Transcript: July 29

Coach O’s Rams Training Camp Report: July 29

Jeff Fisher: “They loved the practice” –Video

Twitter Reports of Rams Training Camp Practice: July 29

Rookie Joyner Impressing in Training Camp –Latsch
You can add Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel and wide receiver Kenny Britt to the growing list of fans of rookie cornerback Lamarcus Joyner early in training camp.

What to Watch as Rams Put on the Pads –Wagoner
The St. Louis Rams have made it through the collectively bargained opening days of training camp. Now the real football can begin.

Warner on Bradford: Time to Take the Next Step –PD
As an unheralded, undrafted player fresh out of the Arena Football League in 1998, Kurt Warner faced a different kind of pressure than current Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

Morning Ram-blings: Dangerous Defense –Wagoner
It’s no secret to those that follow the St. Louis Rams or those around the team on a regular basis that they have the talent in place to become a dominant defense.

Remember Rams C Barrett Jones? He’s Bigger, Stronger and Ready to Compete –Balzer
It was a long year for Rams center Barrett Jones, but one he realized he would have to endure before being able to show the team’s coaches what he can do.

Rams WR Tavon Austin on NFL AM –Video

Tavon Austin Talks 2014 Season –Video

One-on-One with Rams Kicker Greg Zuerlein –Video

One-on-One with Rams LB Ray Ray Armstrong –Video

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Hayes Close to Return After Offseason in Body Shop –PD

• By Jim Thomas

Let’s hope William Hayes got a volume discount, because he’s recovering from not one, not two, but three offseason operations.

As defensive line coach Mike Waufle tells his players, they’re like high performance sports cars. “And you’ve got to have those Porsches fine-tuned,” Waufle said.

After all the surgery on Hayes, Waufle joked, “He’s got a new body. A new frame. He’s got a new set of wheels. He’s got a new engine. He got a complete overhaul. So he’s excited.”

And ready for another 100,000 miles.

“My body’s just been beat up a little the past two years,” Hayes said. “So I just wanted to go into this season healthy. And I feel great right now. I feel probably better than I did since my third year in the NFL.”

Hayes, 29, had relatively routine surgery on both his collarbone and ankle in January. Then came the big one — hip surgery. Specifically a labrum tear in the hip that led to groin issues.

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