EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In technical terms, the St. Louis Rams are the only team in the NFL that doesn't have "minicamps." But while the rest of the league holds rookie minicamps this weekend, the Rams will be hosting their rookies for what coach Jeff Fisher prefers to call an orientation.
Regardless of what it's called, the team's nine-man rookie class will be on the field at Rams Park on Friday and Saturday afternoon for their first interaction with the coaching staff. In years past, Fisher has discussed using the first weekend with rookies to show them how the Rams like to do things, including meetings, practice and more. The on-field portion of the work is essentially no more than a glorified conditioning session intended to get the rookies up to speed before they join the veterans.
The nine-man rookie draft class won't be the only players on the field this weekend. Although the team has yet to makes its undrafted rookie class official, the roster has room for 17 undrafted rookies. It's been common practice for the Rams to find a couple of undrafted gems in recent years. Starting safety Rodney McLeod was once an undrafted free agent out of Virginia and has performed well enough that the Rams tendered him at the second-round level as a restricted free agent this year.
The Rams have also been able to find other contributors via the so-called "eighth round," including names like safety Cody Davis, running backs Trey Watts and Chase Reynolds, end Ethan Westbrooks and more. That might not be the case this year.
"This draft is probably a little less deep than last year," general manager Les Snead said. "Last year, you get a Marcus Roberson (cornerback) in free agency, I don’t know if we’re getting a Marcus Roberson this year in free agency."
It's possible the Rams won't even use all of their available spots on undrafted free agents to fill out the 90-man roster. As of this writing, they had agreed to terms or signed 15 players. They could theoretically leave space for a couple of veteran free agents as well.
It's also common for teams, including the Rams, to use the weekend to bring in a number of players on a tryout basis. Those players get a chance to impress the coaching staff enough to earn an undrafted rookie contract after the weekend.
First-round running back Todd Gurley will be present but it's safe to assume he won't be participating at full speed like his teammates. When the weekend is through, the Rams have a few more weeks of the offseason conditioning program before starting organized team activities on June 2.