Vets on vacation, rookies hanging around

7:41 AM, Jun 16, 2012   |    comments
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(Rams Tailgate Show) -- The rookies will be around for another week, but for all intents and purposes, the Rams' work is done for the offseason.

New coach Jeff Fisher and his staff spent the last two months getting offenses and defenses installed so training camp can be used to get ready to win games. That's the attitude Fisher has been pushing: the past doesn't matter; it's all about winning now.

When asked if the players are hungry to win, Fisher said, "No, not hungry to win, they expect to win. Everybody does. The past is the past, but we are looking forward with that expectation to win football games."

After the final minicamp practice Thursday (June 14), Fisher said, "We understand what's ahead. They understand the challenges. They understand the uniqueness of this training camp and the limited number of practices we have and how important it is to go out and just work. They have got to work, come back and they can't afford to not come back in the best shape of your lives because we have just a few practices to get ready for the opener.

"Offseason attendance was really, really good. I think 48 of the 55 veterans had over 90 percent and almost 40 of them with 100 percent attendance. We had never seen anything like that, so that sets the bar for us now moving forward. It went fast. I think we accomplished everything we needed to accomplish and now it's up to them. We have another week with the rookies. It's up to them to be disciplined and committed to the cause and the program and come back in the best shape, and then we'll have more fun."

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said he is pleased with the team working to get command of the offense.

"It was a really, really good offseason," Schottenheimer said. "I think we got a lot of things in. I would say probably we are almost at 90 percent of what we need to have in. What we tried to do was we tried to overload them a little bit in the beginning. We tried to go back and repeat things so they could hear it a second, third, fourth and fifth time. But I'm very, very pleased. Obviously, not only are you competing against yourself but we are also going against the defense, which creates a lot of problems. It was good for us going against a defense like ours. You troubleshoot a lot of your problems with protections and run game and things like that, so it was really good."

As for adapting to the players on the roster, he said, "Your job as a coach is to try to fit the system. We have a system; we have a philosophical belief, things that we want to be. We are going to be physical; we are going to run the football. We want to have some balance with run actions and have sameness with the things we do in the running game and passing game.

"But when you have good players, it's easy. You have got to find what those guys do. They have to learn about us as a staff, we have to learn about them. I think we have done a really, really good job by just spending a lot of time together, figuring one another out. I just love to be around this group of guys. They are working really, really hard. They are picking it up and I couldn't be more pleased with the progress we are making."

The defense provided the most questions entering the offseason program in April after coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended for at least one season. Fisher said installing the defense would be a collaborative effort and assistant head coach Dave McGinnis says that's exactly what happened.

"We're entirely different than we were when we first got here," McGinnis said. "They've done a very nice job of not only absorbing what we've given them, but they've taken it to the field. The communication has incrementally gotten better every practice that we've had. The meetings have been fantastic. Jeff went through a very meticulous and a very orderly process of putting this staff together. In that process, he got some tremendous, tremendous teachers.

"I've been coaching in the league for 27 years, so I know good from not good. In those meeting rooms it's really, really good. These players, I can't give them enough credit for what they've done as far as picking up a new system, being able to implement that system mentally in a classroom, but more importantly on the field. Because again, in the process of all this ultimately what it comes to is where we can win ballgames when the regular season starts. The initial process that starts is knowing what you're doing. If you don't know your stuff, you have a hard time doing it. These guys have really done a tremendous job doing that."

Asked whether it was a challenge installing the defense, McGinnis said, "Not at all. It's been so smooth. It's been seamless. Again, this defensive playbook, this defensive philosophy, this defensive system originated in Jeff Fisher's office, so know that. And we've all been together. We've got a very unique situation here in that we have coaches that have not only been in this system for a long time and have seen it evolve - this system has evolved over the years - we also have players that are now coaching that have played in this system. As I said, Jeff did a very, very thorough job and a meticulous job of putting this staff together for a lot of really, really smart reasons. One of them being that everyone is in tune with what we're doing."

Finally, McGinnis was asked whether the defensive preparation and play-calling during games will be unique. He smiled and said, "I don't think it's unique. I mean, we're going to call the defense and make them punt."


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