Rams lineman Rokevious Watkins wins by losing

Friday, August 3, 2012 | 8:00 p.m. CDT; updated 9:18 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 3, 2012
St. Louis Rams lineman Rokevious Watkins (73) is cooled off by training personnel during NFL football training camp in St. Louis. The Rams are starting to see a little less of Watkins, a fifth-round draft choice this past spring, who reported to rookie camp overweight and is just now getting to see some practice time.

ST. LOUIS — Rokevious Watkins has gotten where he and the St. Louis Rams expected all along.

The rookie offensive guard out of South Carolina reported to camp overweight and unprepared to practice. It forced him to spend time alone on the sidelines or in the training facility shedding the extra girth as the rest of the newcomers worked on the field during the three-day rookie camp.

"It was pretty high," he said of his reporting weight. "It was a couple of pounds over where they wanted me to be."

Actually, it was about 16 pounds over where the team expected. The training staff put him on a more stringent program than what he followed during the offseason while home in Georgia. He has dropped almost all of the extra mass and is now hovering just above his college weight.

A week after reporting, as the Rams spent their second day in full pads Friday, the 6-3, 341-pound Watkins was on the field, at a better weight and seeing significant time with the second and third teams.

"I'm just glad to be back out on the field," he said. "I thank the trainers for doing it the right way and getting me back out there safely. Now that I'm back out there, I'm just basically trying to get the mental part of it down."

Coach Jeff Fisher liked what he has seen from Watkins on the field. He played both tackle and guard during his two seasons with the Gamecocks. Left guard appears the best fit for him with the Rams.

With the fitness concerns handled, the rookie has turned his focus to pushing seven-year veteran Quinn Ojinnaka for playing time.

His size is precisely why the Rams took him in the fifth round. His 10-inch hands and nearly 7-foot wingspan provide plenty of protection and Fisher said he's likely to see playing time with the first team eventually.

Just not right now. The lack of field work for Watkins during the first week shows.

"He's got a ways to go," Fisher said. "He's been behind, but he'll get caught up. He's now in a position where he can get caught up."

That comes as no surprise to Watkins. While he preferred not to talk about the reason most people are talking about him, he admits it provided a valuable lesson.

He said he watched what he ate during the summer, though not as diligently as he has this past week, and worked out while at home. He said his biggest mistake was that he often failed to get enough sleep, and that led to not working out enough.

With that lesson learned, he is ready to move past the weight issue and learn the offensive playbook.

"I feel like I'm grasping it," he said. "I'm the type of guy, who if you put something in front of me, you're not going to have to show it to me too many times. The biggest thing is learning that you're a rookie and that you don't know anything."

Fisher sees enough potential that he's expecting Watkins to occasionally relieve Ojinnaka on the first team. That's all Watkins wants.

"I'm just trying to get caught up," he said. "Once I get caught up, we'll see what happens."

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