Fisher helps Rams beat 103-degree heat

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams were deep into practice Tuesday when Jeff Fisher gathered players around him.

Reporters not yet familiar with Fisher's ways figured the team's new coach was calling an end to the session, a move that would have seemed merciful given the 103-degree heat and direct sunlight blasting down upon everyone in attendance.

But practice wasn't finished. Fisher, drawing upon research collected over the years, had called for a stretching session. Practice then resumed, with Steven Jackson breaking a long run in work featuring the starting units.

"We've come to realize that the third day (of camp) there's a an increased pull history," Fisher explained, "so we intended on just taking a moment and getting stretched out so we didn't have any fatigue issues and fatigue pulls in the weather."

NFL teams have become more proactive, particularly since Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer died from the heat at training camp on Aug. 1, 2001.

The Rams weigh players before and after practices to ensure they've done enough to replace spent fluids. Times have changed.

"We're an air-conditioned society now," Fisher said. "In the old days, we spent summertime outside. I remember when you got in trouble, Mom said, 'Go to your room.' You say that now and they go, 'Yeah, cool, we got all kinds of stuff to do in the room.' Moms need to say, 'Go outside' now. ... We're very much aware of it."

A few more notes from the Rams' latest practice:

  • Breakout player: Second-round cornerback Janoris Jenkins has fit right in with the starters. Asked to project a potential breakout player from the Rams' defense this season, veteran safety Quintin Mikell named Jenkins. Mikell: "He is a young guy who is coming in with a lot of confidence. He has come in and made a lot of plays already. I can see it coming. He's going to have a good year. They're going to test him and he might have a little bit of struggles here or there, but he has a lot of confidence and is a guy who can make plays."

  • Work in progress: Another rookie second-round choice, receiver Brian Quick, is adjusting. He beat cornerback Cortland Finnegan with a beautiful inside release, breaking into the clear in the end zone. Sam Bradford delivered the ball a little high, but the 6-foot-3 Quick got both hands on it. The pass bounced off his hands. Quick could easily make that catch, but rookies sometimes are thinking so hard while they learn an offense, they forget to finish. Later, Quick made a catch away from his body when Bradford went his way in the end zone. At first I thought Bradford was throwing away the ball. Quick put his reach to use in snatching the ball cleanly.

  • DB shortage: The Rams practiced without cornerbacks Josh Gordy and Kendric Burney. Tight hamstrings sidelined them. That left the secondary shorthanded under extreme weather conditions. The receivers fared well and wondered if the depth issues in the secondary contributed in some way. Steve Smith got behind Jenkins to make a hands catch (as opposed to body catch) of a ball Bradford threw with velocity. Austin Pettis might have made the catch of the day, rising high above Quinton Pointer and falling into the end zone with the ball. Rookie Chris Givens also showed up with a couple strong catches, although assistant head coach Dave McGinnis ruled him out of bounds on one (offensive players protested).

  • Alexander running: Receiver Danario Alexander was running under a trainer's supervision during practice. He's rehabbing a hamstring injury.

  • Sims scare: Defensive end Eugene Sims, a player the Rams expect to play extensively this season, left practice with what appeared to be an injury to his right arm or shoulder. He was walking slowly with his right elbow pointing to the side and his hand pointing forward, limiting movement. I'm checking with the Rams to find out more.

  • Kendricks update: Tight end Lance Kendricks was one of the Rams' most impressive players during camp a year ago. He had some problems with drops in this practice.

  • Good from 60: Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein continues to impress with his strong leg. One attempt from 60 yards cleared the crossbar with several yards to spare. Another from 64 yards had the distance and barely missed to the right.

That's it for now. I've got a long list of interviews to process before putting together our annual "Camp Confidential" file for later in the week. Those wondering about Bradford's performance to this point in camp should know he continues to perform at a high level, impressive coaches and teammates alike.