Rams' rookies developing their skills
Saturday, May 17, 2014
ST. LOUIS — Michael Sam and the rest of the St. Louis Rams rookies were on the field for the second straight day in what the team referred to as a skill development period.
The workouts are part of the rookie orientation this week, and were held Friday on distant fields at Rams Park. Besides the 11-man draft class, there are 14 undrafted free agents.
Another workout is set for today and Monday the rookies will join the rest of the team in the offseason program.
The first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team was among the last four players to leave the field after a workout that lasted about 1½ hours. He got extra special teams tutoring along with a trio of linebackers — Tavarius Wilson, Johnny Millard and Aaron Hill — all undrafted free agents.
When the Rams drafted Sam, coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead both said excelling on special teams will help Sam’s chances.
The Thursday session was not open to the media and the Friday session was open but without interview access to coaches or players. Oprah Winfrey’s cable network was filming a documentary about Sam and was among those training cameras on the workout, all far away from the practice.
“Whether it’s one camera, two or three, you’ve still got to have a protocol and process,” Snead said earlier in the week. “We’ll have that.”
Just one quarterback is participating, sixth-round pick Garrett Gilbert.
No mere seventh-rounder, Sam was the star attraction Tuesday when the Rams introduced their draft class, getting a solo session after sharing the podium with the rest of the third-day picks. He discussed rising from adversity and emerging from tiny Hitchcock, Texas.
“I wanted to get out, I wanted to do some great things, so I played sports,” he said. “I got better at football. I got better with my grades. I went to college. I was the first person in my family to graduate, and now I’m the first person in my family to go to the NFL. So, I just keep on fighting. Keep fighting the good fight.”
Players took physicals Wednesday before hitting the field for the first time.
The Rams cleared roster space to make room for some of their high draft picks, releasing running back Daryl Richardson and defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo.
St. Louis took Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the first round and running back Tre Mason in the third round. Donald and offensive lineman Greg Robinson, the second overall pick and likely to start the season at guard, worked out together before the draft. Donald was the 13th pick.
Richardson was a seventh-round pick in 2013 and rushed for 475 yards with a 4.8-yard average as the change-of-pace backup behind Steven Jackson as a rookie.
He entered training camp as the starter last season but was hampered by foot injuries while rookie Zac Stacy emerged, falling just shy of 1,000 yards.
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