Bruce makes it just in time for start of Rams' preseason work

Sunday, July 28, 2002

MACOMB, Ill. -- Isaac Bruce, who showed up at training camp two hours after the St. Louis Rams' initial team meeting, would rather not be there at all.

"If it was up to me, I wouldn't come," the four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver said Saturday after the first of two opening-day workouts. "It's not up to me, so I come."

Bruce said one month should be plenty for players to prepare. The Rams are getting about six weeks to get ready for their Sept. 8 opener, and he said he never knows how to answer questions about his camp goals and objectives.

"I don't know what I'm trying to get out of it," Bruce said. "You've got to go to camp, it's part of leading up to the first day and timing is everything. We've got to get our timing down."

Bruce, the senior Rams player after being a second-round pick in 1994, is usually among the last players to arrive in camp. Coach Mike Martz had thought Bruce was driving in from Memphis, but Bruce actually had left for the more than three-hour drive from St. Louis.

Asked whether he had encountered car trouble, Bruce replied: "Huh? I've got a truck."

Bruce hadn't heard of any repercussions, saying nothing counted until Saturday. And Martz didn't seem worried, either. The coach was able to joke about the situation informally Friday night.

The initial practice lasted nearly two hours and largely was uneventful. Two players, rookie linebacker Courtland Bullard and defensive tackle Carl Bradley, vomited during the workout and Bullard, a fifth-round pick, left the field on a cart about a half-hour before the finish.

"Young guys," offensive tackle Orlando Pace said. "They've got to drink some water and get the proper rest."

Pace, who's 6-7 and 325 pounds, said he had no problems with the first day.

"It could be hotter," he said. "We've just got to get back into the swing of things."

First-round pick Robert Thomas, slotted to start at weak-side linebacker, said the first practice was a bit of an eye-opener. This is why he was determined to sign in time for training camp, agreeing to terms on a five-year contract on Monday.

"I told my agent I couldn't afford to miss a meeting, so have me here on time," Thomas said. "It's a lot faster and overall it's more intense.

"Things are coming at you faster and you've got to get used to it and keep on going."

Third-round pick Eric Crouch, the Heisman Trophy winner last year at quarterback for Nebraska and now a wide receiver, felt the same way.

"It's awesome," Crouch said. "It's a great feeling to be a part of this program. Anything I can do for this team, I've got to take full advantage of that."

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