EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Thoughts after watching the St. Louis Rams practice Monday for the first time since their exhibition opener Saturday night:
The only breaks the Rams seem to catch on their offensive line are the ones they find through X-rays. Starting left tackle Rodger Saffold was the latest victim. He left practice Monday with a back injury of unknown severity. A teammate fell into Saffold's back while Saffold was blocking. Trainers tended to Saffold while the rookie sat on the grass with his legs outstretched. They brought him to his feet and then wrapped his midsection (presumably with ice). Saffold walked off the field slowly and appeared to be favoring his left side (he wears a knee brace on his right leg).
Sam Bradford's timing and accuracy jump out right away. Seven-on-seven drills look like an extension of his pro day. Sometimes the ball arrives on target before the safeties can turn around. There is no pass-rush during seven-on-seven drills, of course.
Bradford and veteran A.J. Feeley split the first- and second-team reps equally, a slight change designed to get more work for Feeley as the season approaches.
Defensive end Victory Adeyanju did not finish practice after injuring his left knee. The severity of the injury was not yet known. Adeyanju is a strong run defender.
The linebackers fared better than the running backs during blitz-pickup drills.
Veteran safety Oshiomogho Atogwe spent extra time after practice working on catching the ball. He dropped one potential interception and failed to fully break up another pass (the ball bounced into the arms of its intended receiver, Darcy Johnson, for a touchdown).
Coach Steve Spagnuolo focuses on much more than just the defense. He was in the offensive huddle between plays during a goal-line period. He was also taking a special interest in pass-protection work after the line struggled to protect Bradford during the game Saturday night.
Rookie receiver Mardy Gilyard did not play for the Boston Celtics during the 1980s, but the Larry Bird shorts he wears during practice would have fit in back then. Gilyard has his own style and flair. He's been hurt recently, but he was practicing Monday and looks the part (minus those shorts).
Players benefited from temperatures in the 80s, some 20 degrees cooler than highs earlier in camp. Temperatures on the artificial field can hit 140 degrees when the St. Louis weather is at its hottest.
Despite the favorable weather, Spagnuolo said he thought the team was still a little sluggish. That is typical for the first practice following a game.
Running back Steven Jackson is moving well. I could see no evidence of the back surgery he underwent this offseason. If anything, Jackson appears even fresher than normal. He did not play Saturday night and the team has limited his full-contact work. Jackson looked great catching a one-handed pass over the middle in stride.
Two outstanding individual plays I saw: guard Roger Allen III putting defensive tackle Clifton Ryan on his back, and rookie defensive end Hall Davis pushing down tackle Eric Young (to the point that Young fell into Feeley's legs, forcing the quarterback to move).
The Rams have two practices Tuesday. I'll be at both and hope to get a better feel for the team as the week progresses.