Dick Vermeil was back in training camp, with some of his players wilting a bit in the morning heat. The 60-year-old coach of the St. Louis Rams was doing just fine.
“I don’t know when you’re supposed to start feeling old,” said Vermeil, an NFL coach again after a 15-year absence. “Since I was a high school PE teacher I’ve really taken care of my health and stamina.
“I would venture to say: Most younger people, I’m in better condition than they are.”
At least one rookie on Tuesday was impressed by Vermeil’s boundless energy.
“He’s real intense, high pace in everything, no walking around, full-speed everything,” said cornerback Dexter McCleon, a second-round draft choice from Clemson. “I guess it’s something the guys will have to get used to.”
Three minicamps helped Vermeil reacquaint himself with coaching. So he was far from overwhelmed in his first training camp workout with the Rams.
Complaining of burnout, Vermeil left the NFL in 1982. Since he was hired in January, Vermeil has said he’d delegate work this time. And on Day 1 he kept a low profile as 26 players, all but five rookies, participated in the first of two practices.
“I got over feeling useless after about the second minicamp,” Vermeil said. “Now, just to be an observer and a comment-maker and a suggestion-maker, it’s different, but now I’m used to it.”
Actually, Vermeil took it easy on the youngsters. Full-squad workouts will last two hours and up, but with such a skeleton squad on hand he’s cutting the time on the field in half the first few days.
The kid gloves come off Friday when the veterans hit the field. The first practice will be in full pads.
“When you see the guys you project as starters for the opener show up, it’s exciting,” Vermeil said. “Especially for me, not having had that responsibility for a long time. I can’t wait till our first squad meeting.”
He’ll have to wait for No. 1 pick Orlando Pace, however. The Rams and Pace’s agents, Carl and Kevin Poston, met for three hours Monday with no progress.
“I know where he wants to be and hopefully his agents know where they want him to be,” Vermeil said. “Sooner or later, we’ll get it resolved.
“Whenever you’re communicating and the tone of voice is respectful between two parties I think you have a positive chance of getting things done.”
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams are basing their offer on the contract of Keyshawn Johnson, who got $15 million for six years from the New York Jets with a $6.5 million signing bonus. The Postons are trying for a contract similar to that of Jonathan Ogden, the fourth pick of the ‘96 draft who signed for $15.4 million over seven years with a $6.79 million bonus.
One of the first cuts in training camp will be quarterback Tony Banks’ 6-month-old Rottweiler, Felony. Banks, entering his second season, had planned to have the dog stay with him in his room.
Vermeil balked, and Banks didn’t like it, but he understood.
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