The Rams have been itinerants in recent years, moving from Western Illinois University three hours north of the city to Rams Park in 2005, then to Concordia College in Mequon, Wis., last year and now back home. Their home training facility is 20 minutes west of St. Louis in an office-parkish area a few long spirals from Interstate 70. There's not much spirit at camp practices, other than a couple of loud fans, but who can blame the fine people of Eastern Missouri? The Cardinals are in a pennant race (what else is new?) and the football locals are an abysmal 5-27 the last two years.
The reason the veterans I spoke with have bought in is because Spagnuolo has been consistent with his message and because the players saw his results the last two years as defensive coordinator of the Giants. I doubt this will result in a winning season, but for the first time in a while, this organization seems to be pulling in the same direction.
It's not that Smith has been hugely disappointing, although he has struggled in pass blocking drills against veteran edge rusher
"I can not imagine how far behind I would be if I wasn't able to graduate early and start here early," Laurinaitis told me. "There's no way that I'd know this defense well enough right now to be in this position." A starting position, he means. Spagnuolo elevated him to the starting role on Sunday, pushing former middle linebacker
I sat in Spagnuolo's office after the morning practice, right across his big mahogany desk from him. Between us was a card with the late
Spagnuolo went to Johnson's memorial service last Friday in Philadelphia, missing only one practice to pay his respects. "I'm so glad I was able to do that for everything Jim has meant to me," said Spagnuolo, a long-time defensive assistant under Johnson in Philadelphia. "I really needed some closure."
I hate to look a gift pizza in the mouth, but I'm about to do just that. Unlike many camps, the Rams do not open their cafeteria to the media, which I don't have a problem with; it's not their job to feed us. The Rams brought in pizza and salad to the media in between practices today. I've always had the attitude, If it's free, it's for me. But I probably would have been better served at Subway. This was very thick, chewy, chilly pizza. The bottled Aquafina, however, was fine. Overall grade: C.
• The receiver group is in trouble here. With the only proven wideout,
• The Rams seem concerned that defensive tackle
• The Rams just might have found a copy of
• Even with Jason Smith at right tackle and
• The Rams are lucky to be in the NFC West. Although Arizona played in the Super Bowl last year, there isn't a team in the West that is scary good. I can't see any team in the division running away with it. The Rams were 2-14 on merit last year, and this year 6-10 would be both realistic and welcome in a city that isn't expecting much out of them.