ST. LOUIS — By the time the NFL announced Isaiah Pead would miss the first game of the 2013 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, the second-year running back was already out of Jeff Fisher’s doghouse.
“It will not,” Fisher said Thursday afternoon when asked if the suspension will adversely affect Pead’s chances to earn reps in the St. Louis backfield.
“Not whatsoever,” Fisher said. “There’s a great competition there. He’s not going to be penalized, as far as reps and carries during the preseason. We’re getting ready for a long haul, and we will be without him for one week — which we understand — but it doesn’t complicate things.”
Pead, a second-round draft pick in 2012, carried the ball 10 times for 54 yards as a rookie last season. He is currently competing with fellow second-year back Daryl Richardson and rookie Zac Stacy for time behind Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.
Fisher said he and the team learned of Pead’s violation long before the NFL made the news public knowledge.
“We were aware of it for quite some time,” Fisher said. “This was an incident that took place last summer. We dealt with it at that point, knowing that the league was probably going to follow up … There’s been so much time between the incident and where he is at now, I believe it is behind him. He obviously has to suffer the consequences and miss the game. But I’m pleased with how he’s bounced back, and his professional approach to being a member of the team this year.”
Pead is the second Rams player to be suspended recently for violating the substance abuse policy. Offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins will also miss the Rams’ first game. Fisher has said multiple times he disagrees with that suspension. Last year, Fisher suspended cornerback Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Chris Givens for one game each. Those suspensions, a result of the players violating team rules, were not mandated by the NFL.
“We — in a lot of ways — addressed it [Pead’s violation] last summer when the issue took place, knowing this would probably be the result. This thing has taken a long time. In a lot of ways, Isaiah has put this behind him. He’s learned from his choices, and I don’t expect it to happen again. I think we can use it as an example. Now, with respect to Rokevious, I still respectfully disagree with that decision to suspend him, and the circumstances regarding it. But we have no choice. The league is standing behind that decision. This stuff about lack of discipline in the football team, I made the choice to sit the other two players. They didn’t break any laws or anything like that. Those were club rules. We have the opportunity to discipline our players outside of the league. With that being said, as far as I’m concerned, we’ve had, basically, one major issue. It was a one-game suspension, and he’s learned from it.”
Most NFL teams will undergo a full-squad minicamp in June. The Rams, however, will opt out and give players a week off after organized team activities. Fisher made the decision, and his players support it.
“To be honest, we get the same work done at an OTA as we do at a minicamp,” Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said. “We are allowed to be here a little longer, so we can meet longer. I think coach Fisher knows exactly what he’s doing. If he thought we needed the minicamp, we would be here. But the way we’ve been able to come out and get work done during OTAs, I think we will get just as much accomplished.”
Bradford was at his Oklahoma City home when the deadly tornado on May 20 tore through the nearby city of Moore, Okla.
Upon returning for Rams OTAs, the quarterback partnered with the city of St. Louis to provide help. When asked Thursday about the #STL 4OKC donation drive that shipped money and goods to those affected in Oklahoma City, Bradford said the results were impressive.
“I think they collected over 80,000 pounds of goods,” Bradford said. “I think they raised over $15,000 in donations at the site. It was extremely successful, and I want to thank everyone, again, for what they were able to do.”
Bradford was also home last Friday, when another deadly EF5 tornado tore through the Oklahoma City area — the second in less than two weeks.
“Hopefully, they’re done now,” Bradford said.
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