After dealing with the death of his mother, Rams defensive end Eugene Sims returned to practice Thursday afternoon.
“A little rusty, but it’ll do, ‘’ he said. “It’s been a long week, a little stressful, but it feels good to be back with my team and my brothers. Trying to keep myself busy to try to help myself heal from what’s going on.’’
Sims, a sixth-round draft choice by the Rams in 2010, has been a solid contributor on defense and on special teams ever since. A year ago, he established career highs in tackles (36) and sacks (three).
The 6-foot-6, 269-pounder had two tackles, including one sack, in the Rams’ preseason-opening loss in Cleveland on Aug. 8 and then returned home to be with his family.
“To be honest, I thought about (football) every day, just trying to get my mind off other things and to keep from feeling sorry for myself, I guess,’’ the 27-year-old said. “There’s still a lot on my mind, but I have business to take care of. It’s a job, you know, and even though it’s a sad week for me, I have to try and take care of my end.’’
Sims said the response of the Rams has been overwhelming.
“My teammates have been there 100 percent; I’ve never been around a group of guys like this,’’ he said. “They’ve been positive with me, keeping my head straight. The whole organization, everybody from top to bottom, has been there for me.’’
CUDJO RETURNS, TOO
Defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo took part in his first practice since suffering a foot injury during organized team activities in the spring.
“It’s a little sore – still have to continue my rehab to get it stronger – but it just feels good to get back out on the grass,’’ said Cudjo, who spent about six weeks in a cast and started camp on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list with the stress fracture. “Being out for so long, you get down on yourself and just wish you could contribute more to the team. I’ve tried to stay in there mentally as much as I can, so now it’s really just a matter of knocking off the rust.’’
Cudjo (6-2, 304) joined the Rams as an undrafted rookie in 2010 and saw his most extensive playing time last season as the team’s third defensive tackle. In 15 games, including four starts, Cudjo finished with 39 tackles and a sack.
Cudjo is hoping to play in the Rams’ preseason finale Thursday against the visiting Baltimore Ravens.
Cody Davis did everything right, except get the desired final result.
On a third quarter field goal by Green Bay’s Mason Crosby on Saturday night, Davis got a hand on the ball but it still managed to flutter through from 30 yards out.
“I’ve watched the film over and over and I still have no idea how it got through my hands,’’ said Davis, a rookie free agent safety from Texas Tech. “I asked if there was anything I could correct, anything I could’ve done differently, and Bones (special teams coordinator John Fassel) told me ‘no’, that that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“I was right at the block spot with both hands perfectly straight and somehow it ricochets off and whirl-winds through.’’
Just last week, Davis and Fassel went over film of NFL kick blocks and spent some time on the practice field together.
“It’s good to get the technique down and have it work in a game; you kind of get confidence from that and can hopefully build off that in the future,’’ Davis said. “It would’ve been great to get the block, but knowing I was able to get a hand on it really motivates me for the next one.’’
Just before halftime, on a 38-yard field goal by the Packers’ Giorgio Tavecchio, the Rams’ Mason Brodine flashed his athletic ability when he broke through the middle of the line by hurdling Green Bay’s Patrick Lewis.
But, like Davis, he was unable to finish off the play.
“It’s illegal to land on the player or use the player to jump off, but to just jump over him is fine,’’ said Brodine, who stands 6 feet 7 and weighs 284 pounds. “I was trying to make a play. In college, I was a jumper on field goals, but I’d never jumped over anybody. Figured I’d just give it a shot.
“I just wish I could’ve made the play.’’
Brodine, who played his college ball at Nebraska-Kearney, saw special teams action in a pair of games with the Oakland Raiders in 2011 and spent 13 weeks with the Rams’ practice squad last year.
“I’ve been improving every day and that’s really all you can ask for in camp,’’ he said. “Instead of worrying about everybody else, you just work to improve yourself and hopefully make the team better.’’
Tackle Ty Nsekhe returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s workout with the flu. Sitting out Thursday’s practice were safety Darian Stewart (hamstring), safety Matt Giordano (calf) and linebacker/defensive end Sammy Brown (calf).
• TE Lance Kendricks continues to work his way back to practice, working on the side again on Thursday.
• With public practices over, things seemed a little quiet on Thursday. But the team seemed to get a lot accomplished.