ST. LOUIS (AP) Moving practice indoors along with a fan festival gave the St. Louis Rams a chance to build some enthusiasm. Gave the rookies a feel for the stadium, too.
Safety T.J. McDonald was a bit overwhelmed at first walking into the Edward Jones Dome in front of a crowd estimated at 15,000 before settling down to business Saturday for what essentially was another full-pad practice with little tackling.
“I kind of had to just step back for a little bit and like ‘Wow!'” McDonald said. “It’s a good feeling to see the Ram in the middle of the field.”
The top attendance at the team facility so far is about 2,300, so the cheers were a lot louder even in a facility that holds about 67,000.
“Definitely more adrenaline going,” McDonald said. “You want to hear the oohs and aahs in your favor, not because you gave something up.”
McDonald never played indoors at USC, and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey’s only dome experience at West Virginia was at Syracuse.
“It felt good walking down that tunnel for the first time,” Austin said. “Even though it was a scrimmage I approach everything like it’s a game and I made a couple plays, so it felt good.”
It felt good afterward, too.
“I’m just glad that anybody wants my autograph right now,” Austin said.
Quarterback Sam Bradford thought the kids handled the newness pretty well and came away believing the offense was even faster on the artificial surface.
“It was exciting to get down here and just change it up a little bit,” Bradford said. “It’s always fun to get out here in front of this many fans.”
The biggest impact addition on offense could be rangy tight end Jared Cook, who made several nice catches. Like Austin, Cook also can line up in the backfield.
“I think you saw today my trust with Jared,” Bradford said. “I’ve got all the trust in the world that if I put the ball up there he’s going to go get it.”
At first blush, coach Jeff Fisher was pleased with everything in an injury-free workout capped by a scrimmage involving players down the depth chart to end “phase one” of training camp. Players have a day off Sunday before starting preparations for the preseason opener Thursday night at Cleveland.
“I think the goal for us is to just go out and execute,” Bradford said. “It’ll be our base stuff and it’s important that we go out and execute the way we know we can.”
Fisher was appreciative of the fan reception, while noting it also means they’re anxious for the franchise to field their first winning team in a decade.
“I would make an assumption that the expectation level is much higher than it was,” Fisher said. “That’s a fair assumption. That’s where we are, too.”
Before the practice, the Rams held fan forums involving vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff and general manager Les Snead.
Kicker Greg Zuerlein had the distance on a pair of line-drive 64-yard field goal attempts with no rush that were wide left. He set a franchise record with a 60-yarder as a rookie last October.