The St. Louis Rams have wrapped up organized team activities (OTAs) and are now preparing for this week’s mandatory minicamp. Most of their 10 draft picks are now under contract, and all 89 players will be at Rams Park this week. There was some mystery during OTAs, though, with newly signed center Scott Wells absent from the voluntary workouts during the past two weeks.
As the Rams begin their rebuilding process (coach Jeff Fisher reminds us they’re not rebuilding and plan on winning in 2012), there is an air of optimism—though that optimism does not necessarily extend beyond the field.
The gloom-and-doom prognosticators do not believe the Rams and St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission will come to an agreement on a lease extension for the Edward Jones Dome. Both sides have presented proposals to upgrade the stadium, which must be a “first-tier” NFL venue by the end of the 2014 season, as stipulated in the original 1995 lease. This should be an easy thing to agree upon, but it’s proving to be anything but, and the two parties will enter into arbitration on Friday.
On the field, the Rams have upgraded the roster through the draft and via free agency with Wells, wide receiver Steve Smith, linebackers Mario Haggan and Jo-Lonn Dunbar, and, most notably, cornerback Cortland Finnegan. As of Sunday, seven of the team’s draft picks were under contract—the latest being first-round selection Michael Brockers, a defensive tackle from Louisiana State who was selected 14th overall. The team also added tackle Barry Richardson, who started in Kansas City at right tackle, and interior linemen Robert Turner and Quinn Ojinnaka in an effort to ensure that quarterback Sam Bradford can remain upright and healthy all season.
Finnegan, who played for Fisher at Tennessee, understands the Rams are facing an uphill climb, but told NFL Network that the team isn’t rebuilding, but remodeling.
You can call it rebuilding or remodeling, but when you’ve gone through the worst five-year stretch in NFL history, one thing is for certain: The Rams have nowhere to go but up.