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Bonsignore: Enjoy the Rams nostalgia while it lasts

August 06, 2016 07:51PM
Bonsignore: Enjoy the Rams nostalgia while it lasts



The nostalgia will wear off at some point. Sooner or later the Rams will blend back into Los Angeles as if they never left for St. Louis and spent two decades away from the region they called home for nearly 50 years.

The magic will fade. The charm of their return will dim. And they’ll reclaim their spot in the L.A. sports landscape as if they’ve been here the whole time.

But it’s going to take awhile.

And as sure as Deacon Jones invented the sack and Jack Youngblood played in Super Bowl XIV with a broken leg, there might be moments that come along over the next few months that take your breath away. Especially if you’re a longtime Angeleno who remembers a time when the Rams stood as tall as the Dodgers and Lakers and USC football.

The recommendation here is to just sit back enjoy it.

It isn’t every day one of the iconic sports teams in town moves away for 22 years only to triumphantly return home.

Which brings us to the sun-splashed afternoon that unfolded Saturday when the Rams stepped foot for the first time in the stadium they called home from 1946-79 and where L.A. sports heroes such as Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch and Merlin Olsen and Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield and Fred Dryer sprung to life.

And where Todd Gurley and Jared Goff and Aaron Donald and Tavon Austin hope to inject themselves into the L.A. bloodstream.

In the whole scheme of the Rams’ walk-up to their first season back in L.A., Saturday marked practice six of training camp. And if you’ve seen one NFL practice chances are you’ve seen them all.

But it was so much more than that when you consider the Rams left the Coliseum for Anaheim 37 years ago, and when then-owner Carroll Rosenbloom marched his franchise south to Orange County the last place anyone thought they’d ever see the Rams call home again was the Coliseum.

But here they are.

And there they were on Saturday during an open practice in which an estimated 25,000 fans came to watch.

“That was fun.” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “That was great. This actually concludes that first phase of training camp and you couldn’t think of a better place to do it then here, in front of the fans in this environment. It was really, really, really fun.”

The nostalgia was everywhere. And Fisher felt it.

The San Fernando Valley native and son of a life-long Rams fan watched the Rams with his dad at the Coliseum back in the day – or, as he explained Saturday: “From way up there in the top some place,” while pointing to the highest section of the Coliseum. “It was one of the greatest moments of my life.”

He then went on to star at USC, where he played four years at the Coliseum, then returned here from time to time during his NFL career.

So to run through the Coliseum tunnel as the head coach of the team he and his dad rooted for was a special moment for Fisher.

“To be able to have the opportunity to play here in college then come back here on numerous occasions during my NFL career was really cool. But this ... it was really fun.”

Of course, with this being an actual work day, and with the Dallas Cowboys coming to town in exactly one week to open the preseason, the Rams had business to tend to.

Fisher liked what he saw.

“We definitely got better today as a team,” he said. “I saw good things from everybody.”

Gurley agreed.

“It was a great day of work, especially for the offense,” he said. “We were able to get some of those red zone scores and goal line runs which we really need to get points on the board. So offense and defense, we all got better today.”

The workout followed the typical schedule, which meant an hour in the real pay off for the fans began.

The Rams, dressed out in full pads, transitioned to 11-on-11 drills. And that meant a clean look at the quarterback battle between current starter Case Keenum and Goff, the first-round rookie from Cal.

One week into training camp, it’s obvious the advantage Keenum holds over Goff in play book command and overall polish. And he wasted little time showing that with completions to Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin. In between was a long run from Gurley, the second-year running back, who blew easily past the edge of the Rams defense.

Keenum also connected with rookie tight end Tyler Higbee in 11-on-11 red zone drills, with Higbee doing what he’s done all camp: Using his speed, size and athletic ability beat his defense to the back of the end zone, then leap over him to reel in the pass.

But Goff took some strides forward Saturday with a strong day.

He was initially limited to handoffs when he took over with the second team, but he looked polished during his phase in red zone drills, including a smoothly executed play-action touchdown throw to Jake Stoneburner in the back of the end zone.

But the highlight for Goff was when the Rams put 1:46 on the clock and asked him to run the no-huddle two-minute drill.

He promptly completed five passes – including a strikes to Nelson Spruce and Duke Williams – while driving the Rams down the field, then found Williams crossing through the end zone for a touchdown with 15 seconds remaining.

Fisher was impressed.

“He was locked in, focused and he knew exactly what the game clock was, what the play clock was, the timeouts,” Fisher said. “He had a good day today.”

Goff said he’s feeling more and more comfortable each day, and he showed that on Saturday. The two-minute drill culminating his first week in training camp.

“A lot of those plays, we’ve run a lot, so I felt really comfortable,” Gof said. “We didn’t run anything out of the ordinary, so it was good. “

Based on crowd reaction, it’s obvious the people’s choice at quarterback is Keenum, who came off the bench last year to lead the Rams to a 3-1 record over the first four games in place if Nick Foles.

Goff will get the job eventually. Not in time for the Cowboys game. But soon enough.

And after a day mixed with nostalgia and work, the Rams were pleased to finish their first week of camp on a positive note in former and current home.

“It was cool be able to play in the Coliseum for the fist time and get a reaction,” Gurley said. “It was cool.”

  Bonsignore: Enjoy the Rams nostalgia while it lasts

RamBill995August 06, 2016 07:51PM

  Rams return: Fans turn out in droves for scrimmage at Coliseum

RamBill421August 06, 2016 08:31PM

  Re: Fisher being a Rams fan

Speed_Kills411August 07, 2016 04:56AM

  Re: pumped? okay....yeah.......25000 for practice?

leafnose411August 07, 2016 07:56AM

  We talkin' bout practice

LesBaker343August 07, 2016 01:38PM