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Practice Recap: Competition Well Underway

Posted Jul 28, 2014

Read all about today's fiesty special teams practice with shoulder pads, including Lamarcus Joyner's big test and Michael Sam's potential role.

Over half of the Rams 90-man roster took the field with shoulder pads for a very competitive and physical special teams practice at Rams Park today.

“It’s a great way to evaluate guys that are going to play NFC special teams,” Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel said.

Though early drills were scripted, practice concluded with an exciting period of 20-yard one-on-one coverage matchups, in which players were responsible for calling out their own reps.

“You can see a couple of guys who went three or four times and we’ll probably see on tape that maybe some guys didn’t go or maybe went one time,” Fassel stated. “We’re looking for better finishers as blockers as far as staying penalty free and then being better finishers covering kicks.”

NEWS AND NOTES

- Fassel restated his emphasis on cleaning up penalties on all phases of special teams, especially the return game.

“We let a few things go just because we want it to be physical and see who’s willing to fight, but we’ll clean up some of the things that couldn’t fly in a real game,” Fassel said. “That’s one of the biggest emphasis for us in the return game, kickoff return and punt return, is being clean finishers.”

- Second-year linebackers and special teams standouts Daren Bates and Ray Ray Armstrong demonstrated their newfound veteran roles on special teams early and often.

“[Fassel] told us to take a little responsibility and bring the other guys along,” Armstrong said. “Whatever the role is, I’m going to try my best at it.”  

- Second-round draft pick Lamarcus Joyner faced a big challenge matching up against the “Miami Heat” duo of Stedman Bailey and Brandon McGee in a difficult punt coverage drill halfway through practice.

“They put me against the Miami Heat is what they call those guys – Stedman Bailey and Brandon McGee – two of the toughest guys in the league,” Joyner said. “They threw me in the fire early, but I enjoyed it. I love football. It’s a physical game and I love getting dirty.”

Fassel noted Joyner might not have much size, however, he is a “scrappy, tough feisty guy …  he’s going to fight.”

- Seventh-round draft pick Michael Sam also made a strong impression on Fassel during today’s practice.

“I think he’s dropped probably about 15 pounds and you can tell the difference running like we did today, 30 to 50 to 70 yards, and that’s helped him a lot,” Fassel said. “At the end of the last drill – the competitive drill – he did a really good job as a blocker. I can see him being a good guy on punt return and kickoff return as a blocker.”

Join us again tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. at Rams Park for a full-squad practice with pads. Also, don’t forget about Fan Fest this Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome. Click here for more details.