Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 7/26/13
James Laurinaitis was optimistic as he joined the St. Louis Rams in 2009, though they were coming off a two-win season. This summer, he truly believes he's part of a team poised to turn the corner. ''Oh absolutely. Absolutely,'' the middle linebacker said after the first full-squad training camp practice Thursday night. ''I was genuinely excited last year, same thing this year. ''The difference is I think this year's team is more talented on paper, and hopefully that translates to the record.'' Laurinaitis also thought it was Super Bowl or bust in July 2012 when the Rams were coming off another 2-14 record and rebuilding under new coach Jeff Fisher, who stressed from the beginning that players should anticipate success. They've set the foundation, going 7-8-1 and staying competitive in most games last year. They've got the comfort of familiarity, there appears to be a much better supporting cast for quarterback Sam Bradford, and there's more speed across the board. The Rams failed to build on another seven-win team in 2011 and nosedived in Steve Spagnuolo's final season. Nobody's worried that'll happen again and Laurinaitis said there's no reason this team can't reach for the sky. ''I think realistically this team needs to be thinking Super Bowl,'' he said. ''If you don't talk about it, if you're afraid to talk about it, you're never going to achieve it.'' Players were perhaps buoyed by announced attendance of 1,755 on an unseasonably mild day with temperatures in the mid-80s for a two-hour workout, with a dunk tank that tested passing accuracy and autographs from offensive linemen as additional attractions. Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said it was the best weekday showing in his five years with the team. ''We have evidence to believe,'' said defensive end Chris Long, now the senior Ram entering his sixth season. ''We have reason to believe. ''Some of these things are tangible.'' Fisher tempered the enthusiasm by ticking off the challenges the NFL's youngest team still faces. They need to score more, make more stops on defense and minimize penalties to improve on the big step they took last year. ''We've got a good start,'' Fisher said. ''We've got a ways to go. We're not satisfied.'' Fisher didn't think this was a make-or-break year for Bradford, either. Bradford was the first overall pick of the 2010 draft. ''My expectations of myself are always high, I don't think there's anyone outside this building that can have higher expectations of myself than I do,'' Bradford said. ''The goal for me is to build on what I was able to do last year.'' Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer promises to expand the options for Bradford, in addition to talent upgrades topped by tight end Jared Cook and wide receiver Tavon Austin, the eighth overall pick of the draft. ''We're faster at almost all the positions on the field, and I think that puts a lot of stress on the defense,'' Bradford said. ''They hesitate for a second, we're by them.'' No. 11 Austin jerseys were prominently displayed for sale in the team souvenir tent alongside those of Bradford, Long and Laurinaitis. Players underwent physicals earlier this week resulting in one roster adjustment when offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins reported overweight for the second straight year and was released on the eve of camp. ''Until he can get that stuff figured out and make a commitment, we're just going on without him,'' Fisher said. ''It wouldn't surprise me if he gets another opportunity because he's got some ability.'' ---- Online: AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org/
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

NFL Media executive deletes Twitter account amid scandal

Udonis Haslem has funny reaction to Wayne Ellington’s hot shooting streak

Anthony Davis surprises family with new car, gifts

Ezekiel Elliott makes a daring bet with Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson

Pacers take subtle jab at Paul George with introduction video

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Paul George booed by Pacers fans like crazy

Angels reportedly acquire Ian Kinsler from Tigers

Warren Sapp addresses sexual harassment allegations, claims he’s ‘always the bad guy’

49ers player: Jimmy Garoppolo has become leader of team

Thunder already loooking to trade Paul George?

Report: 'More than five teams interested' in Orioles' Manny Machado

The 'Is there anything Brown can't do for you?' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

Newcomers help Predators get back to 'Smashville' hockey

How Buddy Hield became the NBA's newest sniper

NFL MVP Watch: Antonio Brown enters suddenly wide-open race

The 'To the Victor, go the spoils' quiz

Matt Barnes and the looming end of the NBA's enforcers

25 players to watch in the pre-Christmas bowls

The naughty and nice athletes list for 2017

NFL free agent signings who have paid off the most in 2017

Six NBA coaches who could be on the hot seat

The best individual performance from every bowl all time

Rams News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

The 'Is there anything Brown can't do for you?' quiz

Newcomers help Predators get back to 'Smashville' hockey

How Buddy Hield became the NBA's newest sniper

NFL MVP Watch: Antonio Brown enters suddenly wide-open race

The 'To the Victor, go the spoils' quiz

25 players to watch in the pre-Christmas bowls

The 'Josh Gordon is back and the NFL will have to deal with it!' quiz

The best individual performance from every bowl all time

NFL Week 14 injury report

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker