Minicamps and OTAs are nice development steps for NFL rookies, but things don't really get rolling until training camp starts. That's when you'll see as much actual helmeted contact as the league will currently allow (i.e., not very much), and that's when the playbook installation really happens. If you're a first-year player, your best shot at excellence is to hit the ground running in late July, and keep it rolling all the way through August.
That wasn't the case for Trumaine Johnson, the third-round cornerback out of Montana. Johnson was in Stockton, Calif. for pre-camp preparation, and he had a flight scheduled for Wednesday morning, so he could get out to St. Louis the same day and get started with his new teammates at the team's rookie minicamp. Sadly, the rookie discovered the hard way that he needs a new alarm clock.
"I set my alarm clock," Johnson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I didn't hear it. I missed my flight. I messed up."
Messed up, indeed. Since there was no way for Johnson to get to camp in time, he had to sheepishly explain himself, and arrived in time for Thursday's practice. There will be no fine from the team for Johnson's late arrival.
There were a few issues with Johnson's contract, which he has signed, and the youngster says that there was no message to the missed beginning. It was simply a matter of catching too many Zs. When he finally got out there on Thursday, Johnson re-learned what he first discovered in the spring -- the NFL game is a bit more complex than what he had seen before.
"The biggest adjustment for me out here was just the speed," Johnson said after he finally got back on the field on Thursday. "But other than that it was just football — and I feel like I can come in and play football. That's what I've been doing all my life."
The Rams will need him to. Last year, they suffered a ridiculous number of injuries to their secondary, and went about righting the ship by selecting Johnson in the third round, and troubled but talented cornerback Janoris Jenkins in the second.
As long as Johnson keeps his head on a swivel -- and buys a new alarm clock -- he's got a good chance to see serious starting time sooner than later.
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