During the Rams' first full-squad practice in pads Thursday, tackle Rokevious Watkins participated in team drills for the first time since reporting to training camp out of shape and overweight.
The fifth-round draft pick out of South Carolina, listed at 6 feet 3 and 338 pounds, had spent the first few days of camp mostly conditioning inside the Rams Park complex.
He held his own against defensive tackle Cornell Banks in a one-on-one pass rush drill Thursday. He also somewhat surprisingly lined up at right guard during team drills. Watkins was drafted with the expectation of competing for the job at left guard.
"I felt good, I got some good work in from the couple of reps I got," he said. "There are a couple of things I still need to keep improving (on), with getting back in the groove and everything, but I'll come out tomorrow and try to get better again."
Head coach Jeff Fisher said he guesses it will take Watkins another week to catch up.
"He's been working very, very hard inside," Fisher said. "He's still not all the way there yet, but he's getting close."
Watkins already felt most of the way back physically but said he would still have to adjust to the pace of team drills.
"I'm pretty much there now, I just got to get back to the mental aspect of it and catch up with the rest of the group," he said. "I had a couple-day slump, but I'm where I need to be."
Wide receiver Danario Alexander (hamstring) and center Tim Barnes (calf) returned to action and participated in individual drills on Thursday. Both are Missouri alums.
Safety Darian Stewart (hamstring) sat out again, as did center Scott Wells (knee). Cornerbacks Josh Gordy (hamstring) and Kenric Burney (hamstring) sat out team drills but participated in individual workouts, where fellow cornerback Jerome Murphy joined them.
"He's just a little sore," Fisher said of Murphy. "We've got a chance to get them all back in the next day or so.''
Replacement refs on site
Four NFL replacement referees were at Rams Park on Thursday, the first of three days they will spend at camp looking to get acclimated to the game before the preseason begins in a few weeks.
Referees visit camp every year to go over the new rules and usually to give the media a presentation on them as well. But the regular refs have been locked out since June 4 and will be until they negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the league, The replacements will not address the media.
A broadening of the crack-back block rule is the only rule change regarding player safety. Now when an offensive player hits a defensive player unaware of his presence, he cannot hit him above the shoulders. Previously, they could not hit the knees.
This season, all turnovers will be automatically reviewed.
"They'll do a presentation on the rule changes and then do practice for three days," Fisher said. "This group has been working real hard in clinics, trying to get caught up. I visited a little with them inside, (and) it's a two-way street right now. It helps us and it helps them."
Fan Fest Saturday
The Rams will hold their Fan Fest in conjunction with their scrimmage Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome.
Doors open at 10 a.m. to season ticket holders and at noon for the general public. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis, with the scrimmage set to run from 12:30-2 p.m. Following the scrimmage, season ticket holders will have the opportunity to get player autographs.
Today's 3:30 p.m. practice is open to the public.