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Rams wear full pads for first time this spring

Thomas Coffman

March 26, 2012

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By Stuart Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations 

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -  The Rams still had tape with their last name written on their helmets but they also dawned full pads for the first time this spring.

“It was good,” said McElwain. “We’ve got to re-teach a lot of drills and just see it on film so they see the pace.”

The Rams will be in pads for the rest of the week as they continue to slowly add plays and present the team with situations. On Monday afternoon the coaching staff introduced the players to their third-down situations.

“We might have been aggressive with what we installed today, based on some of the alignment errors and some some of the things they were doing,” McElwain said. “At the same time they have to understand that they have to force themselves to go.”

After a disappointing practice last Friday, Head Coach Jim McElwain was more pleased with what he saw Monday.

“I thought guys approached practice a little bit better,” McElwain said. “We cleaned up a lot of the penalties we had the day before.”

The first-year coach is doing something that he hopes will cut down on penalties in the upcoming season. McElwain and the Rams will host an officiating crew at each practice.  However, he thinks this might have gotten the guys a bit anxious last Friday.

“I think that the first time having the officials on a regular basis is something they weren’t used to,” McElwain said. “So maybe they got sloppy and didn’t pay attention to detail.”

McElwain also used the poor practice last week as a moment to express his expectations and demonstrate how he runs things.

“It is one of those deals where they’ll get it,” McElwain said. “Those who don’t won’t be here.”

The Rams have four more practices until their first scrimmage on Friday, April 6.

Other post-practice comments from McElwain

On Weston Richburg: “He is swimming like the rest of the guys. He has definitely got to be a guy that is a team leader for us. He has taken a lot of snaps and he has to be a guy that really steps up and helps the offense.”

On how he plans to change the culture: “It is baby steps. Have you ever seen the movie, ‘What About Bob?’ Baby steps!”

Post-practice comments from defensive line coach Greg Lupfer

On whether he looked at film of returning players: “No. My thing is this. What they did in the past, that is the past and I’m trying to look towards the future. Everybody starts off with a fresh slate.”

On techniques he teaches in a different way: “Yeah there are some different things, there is no doubt about it. I’m not exactly sure what they did on defense when the prior staff was here but every coach has different ways to skin a cat. I have my own way and they had their own way. So there are new things I’m teaching them, and right, wrong or indifferent they’re my ways and they got to get those things down.”

On whether anybody stands out after the first few practices: “You can see a couple guys that can stand out athletically. Our returning defensive ends from last year (Nordly) Capi and C.J. (James), those guys are athletic. Our thing is that we have to find guys that can push them, No. 1 and also back them up No. 2. We’ll be fine.”

On if he likes to rotate his defensive linemen: “I think there is a couple decisions that depends on that. If it is a long drive, you have to get fresh bodies in the ball game. There is still a lot of gray area as far as what we’ll do.  I think if you have enough talent, everybody should have the opportunity.”

On Alex Tucci moving to the defensive side of the ball: “He has improved all three practices. Right now he is the biggest guy we have on the defensive line.”

Post-practice comments from assistant head coach Billy Napier

On the feeling of coaching again: “I think that it is fun to be back on the practice field. For a guy like me, I was at Alabama last year and was in a role off the field. At some point, you realize how much you miss coaching football. For me, it has been great; it is a good chance to get back on the grass. We have a really hungry group of guys I think but there is a lot of work to be done this year.”

On his role at Alabama: “I was more of a quality control intern type of position and kind of worked alongside the offensive staff, similar to what a graduate assistant does to some degree – things more related to the coaches than the players.”

On if he missed coaching: “Absolutely and having your own room, your own group and the camaraderie that goes with that; the pride, the things that are associated with that and just being part of a team, being right in the middle of the competition. The final product to some degree is exciting.”

On if he believes he has a guy capable of running the offense: “Well I think so. I like our guys; I like their attitude. Having the chance to watch them work in our offseason program, I think it is a good group. They are in the process of figuring what is to play quarterback and this is a very quarterback-driven system. That guy has to be a great communicator; he has to be somewhat of a cerebral guy. We ask a lot of them and I think they are excited about the opportunity to be that guy in this system. I am enjoying working with them and am looking forward to the challenge.”

On who has stood out from a leadership standpoint: “I think the two older guys are obviously a little bit further ahead as far as maturity. There is no question they are a little more confident having been here and being comfortable with their surroundings. Both Garrett (Grayson) and M.J. (McPeek) are a little bit older, have a little more experience under their belts. Those guys in particular have done a really good job of grasping concepts but we have a long way to go as far as deciding and defining who that guy will be.”

On the skill set of the quarterback group: “They all have redeeming qualities. I don’t think it is the time – it is a little premature for me to make an evaluation on a guy. But I do think that they all have redeeming qualities and that stand out as positives. They also have their weaknesses and inefficiencies that we need to work on. That is why they call me coach.”

On what the quarterbacks have to do to win the starting job: “I think that it will be a group decision and our head coach will make that decision. He is the guy – that is a great resource, not only for myself and our quarterbacks but our whole offensive staff and our whole staff. I think that guy (potential starting quarterback) has to be a relentless competitor, he has to have a will-not-be-denied attitude and he has to set the standard as far as detail and work ethic. He has to be that kind of guy. I think ultimately it is going to come down to the guy that is going to put us into a situation to win and who can do that on a consistent basis. Ultimately, someone is going to earn the trust of the coaching staff.”

On how quick the players will grasp the system: “I think each year there will be a process that starts in our offseason program with the little bit that we get to introduce at that point. Then we move into this phase. The summer is a chance for us to re-install it all where they run the drills, they run the practice. That is kind of how structure things; we are going to re-install everything in the same order, the same progression in the summer. We will do it all again in fall camp and at that point, I think we will begin to see the final product similar to what we want. Us being a new staff, that process will be a little bit slower. Each year is a new team, new group, new voices and we have to go back to the beginning of the process and not assume anything. We are doing that now; it’s just there is no retention from the previous year. Each year we will get a little better at that but there is always a group of players where it is their first time. That group just happens to be the whole team at this point.”

On if he wants two guys to take most of the reps: “I think the more guys that we have that we think have the capability to be the starter, the better situation that we are in. We are wanting to build depth with as many guys as we can get into position to play winning football for us then the better that is for our team. That is so far away and I have a lot of grass to mow before now and then. I am just going to wake up, crank that thing up, and mow what is there tomorrow. We are just going to put our nose to the grindstone and go from there.”



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