If Chuck can do it, why can't you?
That could have been the first line of the letter Mike Pagel received from the new Ram coaching staff this spring, playing off Coach Chuck Knox's victory in a national-ad campaign diet-off during which he lost more than 60 pounds.
But the Knox regime doesn't deal in cute stuff, and the letter had more of a militant tone. It was strongly worded enough to make anyone want to get slim fast.
"When you get a letter that says you will report at 207 pounds or less and you will be at or below that weight every day during the season, you kind of take notice," Pagel said.
The Rams' backup quarterback was pushing the scales up to 224 at the end of last season, so he started counting calories and laps around the track and showed up in training camp at a little less than 200.
"I looked at myself in last year's team picture and I was chubby in the face and had more rolls than a Hostess bakery," Pagel said. "It was disgusting."
Pagel had some pretty hefty statistics against Seattle last week, completing nine of 12 passes for a game-high 122 yards and one touchdown.
The signing of Ashley Ambrose by the Indianapolis Colts leaves the Rams' Steve Israel as the only unsigned second-round draft choice. Ambrose was the first choice in the second round, and Israel was No. 2. Both are cornerbacks, so Ambrose's three-year, $1.76-million deal should establish the market value.
Israel is asking for $620,000 per year for three years--a total of $1.86 million--and the Rams are offering a three-year contract worth $510,000 per year--a total of $1.53 million. There has been little movement in almost a month.
Cornerback Robert Bailey, who made a positive impression on the coaching staff early in training camp, continues to get good reviews.
"He's doing the same things he did that first week," Knox said. "We're getting a lot of coverages in, putting something new in every day, trying to build up a library, a reservoir of plays, so that during the season he can go back in there and touch on something."
And then there were two: Marcus Dupree and Joe Campbell were the only tailbacks who participated in both of Wednesday's practices. "That's where we are," Knox said. "Everybody else is nicked." But he didn't rule out the possibility that Cleveland Gary (hamstring injury), Robert Delpino (groin injury), Derek Loville (groin injury) and David Lang (bruised shin) could be ready for Saturday night's exhibition game against the Raiders at Anaheim Stadium.