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Minicamp report: Rams, Foles discussing new contract

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EARTH CITY, Mo. — Several NFL starting quarterbacks have signed lucrative long-term contracts in the last year. The question for the St. Louis Rams is whether they can reach an agreement with quarterback Nick Foles, who has yet to play a regular-season snap for them.

Foles was acquired in a March 10 trade for quarterback Sam Bradford, and is entering the final year of his rookie contract with a salary of $1.542 million.

After Tuesday’s OTA session, head coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged a report the day before that said the two sides were talking. Whether that results in a deal is another issue.

Said Fisher, “We’ve had some discussions. I think what Nick has done early in his career, he’s proven he can get the job done on the field. With the numbers that he put up at the end with (Eagles head coach) Andy (Reid) and then his first year there it was very impressive. He’s carried things on here and so we’re going to continue to talk and see if we can get something that’s good for both sides.”

It seems a stretch to think Foles would agree to a below-market deal, while at the same time questioning how high the Rams would go to get him under contract beyond this season. For Foles’ part, he said this coming season is not necessarily about betting on himself.

“Whatever happens with that, happens,” he said. “I’m going to be the same person no matter what it is. The number sign is not going to change the way I play the game. I’m going to play with all my heart. It’s about my teammates and building those relationships and just being a player that helps people grow. The money sign won’t change that. I want to be here and that’s the most important thing.”

Asked about Fisher’s comments that he hopes to have him long-term, Foles said, “I felt like this was home from when I got here and got to meet the guys and talk to the coaches. That’s nothing against Philly. I had a great time in Philly and I built strong relationships. But, just how the team was when they brought me in here and how they treated me, and how my teammates have helped me grow and just the relationships that I’ve built. I want to be here. This is where I want to play.

“As a player, you want to be somewhere and you want to play there the rest of your career. This is where I want to be, but that’s why we have agents. My most important thing right now is just to continue to work with my teammates and continue to be the best player and person I can be, so we’ll see what happens. I want to be here. I love coach Fisher and the staff and everybody in this building, so I’m very fortunate to be here.”

Foles did say his agent keeps him abreast of developments. “That’s what we hire agents to do,” he said. “They really do that for us because right now my focus is learning this offense and coming out here and progressing and executing these plays. It’s not that part, that’s why we have the agents that we do and they do a great job of it. I count on them to do that and they count on me to come out here and just be me.”

New offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti is glad to have Foles. “I tell you, Nick Foles first off is an unbelievable person – high character, great leadership,” Cignetti said. “He does a great job in the classroom, great job in the locker room. He’s able to take the teaching from the classroom to the field. Every day you’ve seen that Nick has gotten better. (Quarterbacks coach) Chris Weinke has done a great job with him, has the whole group of quarterbacks working together. I love Nick Foles.”

Asked if he agrees he’s improved every day, Foles said, “Yes, definitely. I think I’ve gotten a little bit better every day. I just need to continue to do that. We have a phase-two day tomorrow and then another OTA to just continue to progress. Then every day on, continue to get better, continue to gain knowledge and continue to work on fundamentals and get the timing down with everything.”

As for his plans after OTAs end and before reporting to training camp July 29, Foles concluded, “During the break, I continue to study the playbook. Study the installs, watch the film of the practices. We’re going to be going against our defense a little bit during camp, so studying them, studying a little bit of Seattle (season opener) and getting ready for preseason, so there’s always going to be stuff to work on. Then, of course, work out and do the fundamentals, drops, throwing and all of that.”

–The Rams officially announced they will practice in Oxnard, Calif., the training camp home of the Dallas Cowboys from Aug. 17-19. During the first two days, the Rams will practice with the Cowboys, then will practice alone on the third day.

Head coach Jeff Fisher said, “We visited with the Cowboys months ago. I visited with (Cowboys head coach) Jason (Garrett) and it’s going to work. Once the preseason schedule came out, it made sense for us to just kind of shoot down after the Friday night game at Oakland down to L.A. and then we move out to the Thousand Oaks area. We’ll practice with them at training camp for a couple of days and then we’re also going to use their facility on Wednesday and then come back. It kind of shortens camp up a little bit, but it’s the first time that this group has been through that experience and to have an opportunity to practice against another team, a good football team, I think we would benefit from it.”

With the potential relocation of the team to Los Angeles after this season, Fisher was asked about fans being concerned that the area was selected for camp practices.

“The two are not related,” Fisher insisted. “The Cowboys have practiced against somebody just about every year. Their facility is as such that it welcomes another team. We talked to a number of teams besides the Cowboys about working together with them, and the Cowboys were really the only one that worked out.”

Fisher said he hopes the work with another team helps the Rams get off to a better start than they have in recent regular seasons.

“Hopefully, big picture, I think it will help us,” he said. “We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think it would be beneficial. What it does for you, depending on the play time for the starters in the first preseason game, this creates another opportunity for them to compete and get better aside from preseason games when you’re in a full-padded practice against another opponent.”

–One focus for new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti is finding ways to get wide receiver Tavon Austin involved in the offense. Cignetti is confident that will happen.

“Tavon Austin’s had a great offseason,” Cignetti said. “Tremendous. It starts in the classroom. He’s learning, he’s paying attention. He’s bringing it to the practice field. You can just see it from his route running. What a difference. His effort, his attention to details. Every day out here, the guy’s made plays. Tavon’s had a great offseason and he’ll continue that into training camp.”

Despite the notion that utilizing Austin could be compromised by an approach of focusing on running the ball, Cignetti said, “Tavon Austin’s a wide receiver. I wouldn’t say he’s a change-of-pace guy. He’s a guy you can put out there every down and the defense has to recognize, ‘Hey, Tavon’s on the field.’ So, whether it’s running down-the-field routes, intermediate routes, short routes or manipulating his touches, the defense always has to be aware of where’s Tavon Austin.”


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