EARTH CITY, Mo. — Michael Brockers said it was nice to finally hit someone after the St. Louis Rams took to the field Thursday night for their first practice with full pads.
"Oh, yeah, loved it," said the rookie defensive tackle out of LSU. "As a defensive player that's what you love to see. That's what you love to do. You love to hit. We got out here in our pads and we got a little thumping going on."
The Rams practiced for just over two hours and will have a similar session Friday in preparation for a scrimmage Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome. It provided the first glimpse of Brockers in gear and gave everyone a better idea about his transition to the NFL.
Other than the actual contact, Brockers, the 14th overall pick in this year's draft, said he felt no different than when he reported for organized team activities this past spring.
Linebacker James Laurinaitis said from his vantage point the rookie "did a dang good job."
While he withheld a final verdict of Brockers' first day in pads until he watches the film, Laurinaitis said he continued to be impressed by how quick the 6-foot-5, 322-pounder is and that he demonstrated what many players don't when the pads are put on.
"There's a lot of guys that look amazing when it's just helmets and there's no contact," Laurinaitis said. "When the contact comes around, it really starts to change a little bit."
Brockers seemed anything but in awe of his surroundings during or after practice. That might be because of his experience playing in the Southeastern Conference, considered the best football league in college.
The way he sees it, there's nothing to be overly impressed by. He often got past the offensive line during the scrimmaging sections of the practice but pulled up before hitting Sam Bradford to ensure that he didn't hurt the third-year quarterback.
"I feel like I belong out there," he said. "All the guys in the league, they put their pants on the same way I do. So, there's no reason to be intimidated about the league. Just go out and give it your best because you wouldn't be here if you didn't deserve to be here."
That's not to say he didn't show some rookie tendencies. Robert Turner was playing at center for injured Scott Wells and had plenty of face time with Brockers. As impressive as he was, Turner said it is only his first practice and there's work still to be done.
"He looks like a rookie," said Turner, who signed as a free agent this offseason after spending four years with the New York Jets. "I think he's got a lot of potential. He's learning the nuances of the pro game.
"The older you get, the more technical guys understand things. Well, this is Day 1 of pads, that kind of stuff you learn and progress."
Laurinaitis said Brockers' work ethic might be as impressive as any other part of his game. He said that too many high first-round picks enter the league and think they can coast through preseason and he's seen nothing to suggest Brockers is taking the situation lightly.
"Sometimes I forget I was drafted in the first round," he said. "I feel like I was a free agent and I'm trying to make the team. That's how I try to play it. That's why I like to get in my playbook. That's how I take it every day."
The Rams open their preseason Aug. 12 at Indianapolis.