Linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, a free-agent acquisition from New Orleans, got into a few minor scuffles with some offensive players, one of which was, of course, right guard Harvey Dahl, who always seems to find a scrum.
“They’re competing and they understand,” coach Jeff Fisher told reporters after practice. “The issue is allowing those things to carry over to the game. You cannot let those kinds of things carry over into a game. But out here, you can understand and appreciate them protecting their teammates. I understand that.”
The Rams held a few players out of the full-contact session, which lasted for just more than two hours. Not practicing because of what Fisher called soreness was cornerback Jerome Murphy.
Safety Darian Stewart missed his second straight practice because of a hamstring tweak. That meant Craig Dahl worked alongside Quintin Mikell in the defensive backfield.
“We’re alternating every day, and that’s good for both of them,” Fisher said of Dahl and Stewart, who could be pushed by undrafted rookie Matt Daniels. “Then we’ll start alternating some positions as well, but they’re both very smart and both very talented.
“You’re looking for first a thorough understanding of the defense and to be able to…for them to be interchangeable both positions—strong safety, free safety—and then you’ve got to be a complete player in that you’ve got to be a good run defender and good tackler and you’ve got to be able to play spacing and break up passes.”
Wide receiver Danario Alexander (hamstring) is still not practicing, but did do some individual work. Cornerbacks Kendric Burney and Josh Gordy were also limited because of hamstring ailments. Center Scott Wells still has not practice because of his knee surgery earlier this year.
One player who did fully participate is Rodger Saffold, who had been limited. Fisher said Saffold is fully recovered from a torn pectoral muscle that sent him to injured reserve last season.
“The injury’s completely behind him,” Fisher said. “He’s strong. He’s really worked hard this offseason, with his feet, his balance and his technique and the injury’s behind and he’s doing just fine. He’s got a couple pretty good rushers out there to work against every day.”
Rookie guard Rokevious Watkins, who reported to camp overweight and out of shape, also took part in 11-on-11s and is nearly back to where he needs to be. Fisher said Watkins needs “another week before he’s caught up.”
Fisher and his staff have spent the last few months evaluating players on their athleticism and knowledge of the playbook. Now that the pads are on, the coaches can really start to see which players will separate themselves from the pack.
“It’s especially beneficial for the guys up front that got the pass rush for the first time in seven or eight months, so that was good,” Fisher said. “We need as much of that kind of stuff as they can get so we’ll continue with that the next couple of days. It’s a process, and we’ve got a lot of time ahead of us.”
The team will likely have a light-contact practice on Friday afternoon, beginning at 3:30 Central, before Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. intra-squad scrimmage at the Edward Jones Dome.
Ron Clements is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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