Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
CHICAGO -- Recollections from the Rams' morning practice Friday, delivered from Gate L2B at O'Hare Airport on my way back to the West Coast:
Tim Carter is faring well. Can the former Giants receiver sustain it after being out of the game? The Rams hope so. Carter caught an intermediate-depth pass toward the right sideline working from the slot. He has caught the ball well and surprised with his speed. Carter is the closest thing the Rams have to a veteran wideout.
Jonathan Wade is among those competing for the cornerback spot opposite Ron Bartell. He batted away a deep pass for Carter. Rookie Bradley Fletcher is also a factor, but some of the better cornerbacks Steve Spagnuolo has coached emerged in their second seasons. Spagnuolo pointed to Lito Sheppard.
Rookie Jason Smith welcomes contact. "77 jacks 99" was what I scribbled on my notepad after watching Smith, No. 77, take on Antwon Burotn, No. 99. Smith is physically impressive already, but he appears capable of adding weight.
Rookie James Laurinaitis moved from third team to second team after the Rams' rookie camp. Laurinaitis: "That first mini-camp I was just trying to line up at the front. I was not even paying attention to what the offense was doing. I was just running to the ball. Right now it's getting more of where I'm making calls, I'm communicating to the guys, getting comfortable and I'm starting to pick up on the offensive formation. Noticing little things in the wide receiver splits that gives you a way of [knowing] whether it's a play-action or what not. When you're able to get comfortable within the defense, then you can start paying attention to what the other guys are doing and I'm starting to make that transition now."
Second-year defensive end Chris Long lit up when asked about starting with a "blank slate" on a young team with a new coaching staff. His rookie season was a tough one. Long is looking forward to a fresh start. He is also making an effort to connect with rookies. He chatted and laughed with Smith and Laurinaitis while seated on the grass for stretching exercises after practice.
The Rams' camp ends Saturday.