Coming off a lackluster performance against Green Bay on Saturday, the St. Louis Rams knew they needed to turn up the intensity. If Tuesday's practice was any indication, the Rams are ready for the Denver Broncos.
Practice turned a bit chippy Tuesday, with a couple of small battles breaking out after players took offense at some hits. LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar took exception with TE Jared Cook's blocking and the two locked horns for a moment after the whistles blew. Later, LB Darren Bates unloaded on RB Bennie Cunningham, sparking another round of barking and shoving.
Head coach Jeff Fisher was nonplussed about the skirmishes after practice:
"Occasionally in camp those things happen. It’s kind of one of those deals…today it got a little warm, OK. And they had pads on and that’s what happens and that’s good. We need to work through that.”
“You don’t want anybody getting hurt and all that kind of stuff. They jump in there and they had more fun pulling apart than they do mixing it up, and that’s fine. We’ve just got to focus on our football.”
Although Fisher had downplayed it, he had the players running extra at Monday's practice. After a sloppy, penalty-filled performance on Saturday, it was easy to guess that Fisher was trying to get his team's attention. There was no additional running at today's practice, which featured the aforementioned tussles and noticeably improved execution. Still Fisher wryly denied any punitive action to get improve his team's performance.
"It’s just part of our routine to emphasize the need to reduce penalties. It was not punitive. It was good exercise.”
St. Louis will need to be in good shape as they combat Peyton Manning's no-huddle offense in the thin Denver air. After Aaron Rodgers had the first team defense wheezing with the Packers' version of the no-huddle Saturday, conditioning levels are a concern for this week with players expected to play into the second half.
Rodger Saffold returned to practice Tuesday, but Joe Barksdale continue to take the first team reps. Saffold worked out on the side as he slowly returns to game action. He'll likely be out of uniform Saturday, but if his recovery holds, will see some action in the final preseason game against Baltimore.
The Rams wind this week's practice with a public portion of their practices on Wednesday before a walk-through practice on Thursday and departing for Denver on Friday.
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