As the last of the moving trucks continue toward the West Coast, the Los Angeles Rams can finally get back to business as usual. Or at least close to it.
During the opening weeks of free agency, the Rams found themselves in a sort of no man's land between their old home in St. Louis and their new one in Los Angeles. While general manager Les Snead worked from his place in Manhattan Beach, Calif., the Rams coaching staff remained in the Midwest hosting free agents and even a few draft prospects.
That's right, while the Rams were in the middle of moving, they were still conducting football business in St. Louis.
"We had several guys in," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "We had three of our top 30 visits, non-Combine players, so we had them in St. Louis. The approach was ‘you are experiencing history here because you walk down the halls and there’s nothing left on the walls and boxes are packed and things are stacked in offices, coaches boards are down and there’s no video to watch.' So if they had any question as to whether we are moving or not, those were answered."
Those players didn't, however, get a chance to see what the Rams' new Los Angeles digs will look like. Fisher and his staff were able to tell visitors how they might fit into their scheme, what would be expected of them and details of where everything will happen once they're up and running in Los Angeles.
Visitors included free agents such as defensive end Quinton Coples, cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Rueben Randle. The Rams signed Coples and Sensabaugh while Miller and Randle went to Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively.
Kentucky tackle Jordan Swindle, Vanderbilt tight end Steve Scheu and Midwestern State defensive back Marqui Christian paid pre-draft visits to Rams Park, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Rams, like the other 31 teams, are allowed to bring in up to 30 prospects before the draft, though none of those prospects can do a workout for the team on the visit.
Teams can also bring in an unlimited number of "local" draft prospects as long as they played college football or are from nearby where the team is. One of the quirks of the Rams' move is determining whether they were considered local in St. Louis or Los Angeles for the purpose of those visits.
"We haven’t got that answered yet," Fisher said. "In all likelihood, it will be no to St. Louis and yes to LA because that’s where we’re going to be located during this time. So yeah, it’s going to be one of the first times where, like many other clubs in the league, we take advantage of that. We can have a lot of good football players in for a workout. There’s a radius involved. We have a chance to see a lot of players, yes."
Unlike in St. Louis, the Rams will have access to players from two major conference programs in UCLA and USC now that they're in Los Angeles. It's expected they'll take advantage of that plenty considering they did it as much as possible in St. Louis, even drafting safety Maurice Alexander in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft after the Eureka (Mo.) native took a local visit.
Upon arrival out west, the Rams will set up their football operations in Oxnard, about 65 miles north of Los Angeles. They'll have modular trailers with all the necessities and begin draft meetings on April 5. They'll also play host to plenty of college players.
And though they won't be able to show them a permanent training facility or stadium, there will be more to see than during the final days of Rams Park.
"We took them in, this used to be the locker room, you can see the field," Fisher said. "We had six of our regular offensive linemen working out there and there are laundry bags, those mesh bags, just laying on the floor in the locker room. Only way they knew it was theirs is because it had their number and shoes next to it. There wasn’t even a table left to put it on."