Players take advantage before lockout resumes

2011-04-30T00:20:00Z Players take advantage before lockout resumesBY JIM THOMAS • jthomas@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8197 stltoday.com

From the looks of it, linebacker David Vobora approached the day like an eager student on the first day of school. He got to Rams Park very early Friday.

"I don't know if I was just eager or my time clock went off," Vobora said. "But I woke up at 6. I was in there just after 7 a.m. — right after the bell rang."

In the now-there-is, now-there-isn't-a-lockout world of the NFL, players were free to go to Rams Park starting at 7 a.m. Friday to work out and meet with coaches, athletic trainers and other team officials.

"The guys are eager to get back together," Vobora said. "As much as this time has been sort of trying for guys mentally, wondering what's going to happen, there's a lot of uncertainty."

And that uncertainty came through, Vobora said, in talking with Rams coaches. "They were like, 'It's good to see you. We're ready to get rolling with this thing. We hope that it continues to stay this way and nothing reverts back to the lockout being on.' "

Oops. Friday evening, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals announced it had granted the NFL a temporary stay in its appeal of Judge Susan Nelson's earlier decision to end the lockout.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo said the Rams were about to make their second-round pick (Wisconsin tight end Lance Kendricks) when they learned of the temporary stay.

"To be honest, I don't really know what it means," said Spagnuolo, obviously locked into the draft. "I'm not sure it's been all laid out. I don't really have enough information on what it really means."

Back at the park

Vobora was among about a dozen Rams players who showed up Friday at Rams Park. Others included linebacker James Laurinaitis, center Jason Brown, kicker Josh Brown, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, fullback Brit Miller, linebacker Josh Hull and offensive tackle Ryan McKee.

Laurinaitis actually came by twice — once in the morning and once in the afternoon. He returned to say hello to first-round draft pick Robert Quinn, the defensive end from North Carolina who had an introductory press conference in the afternoon.

The players who showed up Friday were the ones already in St. Louis. The players who have been staying out of town appear to be waiting for more clarity in the labor situation before hopping a plane for St. Louis.

"The guys that aren't here — it's not like they don't want to be there," Laurinaitis said. "A lot of guys are out of town. I know Sam (Bradford)'s in New York being part of the NFLPA's draft thing."

Thinking ahead

Perhaps Josh Brown was the smartest Ram of all in terms of dealing with lockout uncertainty. He showed up with a bunch of kicking balls and his running cleats in a laundry bag. He got some kicking in, and when he was done working out at Rams Park, he took the bag home with him.

"In case the lockout does resume, I've got my equipment," Brown said. "I don't put anything past the league and the owners right now. I've got to do what's best for me, and right now I've got to keep these balls handy so I can keep kicking."

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