As new Rams start to train, staff also starts new era in NFL diversity program
Reggie Scott knows the value of a pipeline program — two decades ago one started him on his way to becoming the Rams’ vice president for sports medicine and performance.
Thomas Brown, the Rams’ tight ends coach, is looking forward to another pipeline program producing similar results for coaches and front office executives.
Brown and Rams senior personnel executive Ray Farmer were among more than 60 men and women who participated this week in the NFL’s inaugural “Coach and Front Office Accelerator” in Atlanta. The two-day event provided women and minority prospects with development sessions and networking time with team owners.
The program exceeded expectations and was “definitely a step in the right direction,” Brown said Thursday after an organized team activity workout in Thousand Oaks.
“Everybody involved with the program, I think, was very intent on trying to make it a real experience, to make the networking and the programming impactful,” Brown said. “The ultimate true test is going to be the results down the road.”
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford needed an injection for his ailing elbow on his passing arm and might not throw until training camp in August.
Brown, 36, coached running backs his first two seasons with the Rams. During the winter, he interviewed with the Miami Dolphins for their head coach opening, and with the Minnesota Vikings for their offensive coordinator job.
Brown’s move to coaching tight ends this season ostensibly will build his resumé for the next round of coordinator and head coach openings.
Brown said the accelerator provided him and others with opportunities to ask questions and to speak with owners on topics unrelated to football.
“You could actually get to know me as a person, so when my name does come up, you can put a face to a name,” Brown said, adding that the informal exchanges will enable hiring decision-makers to recognize, “ This individual, he’s a human being first, and I can see him in that light before we even get into anything football-wise.’ ”
Scott, president of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS), is optimistic that the NFL’s new Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative will help increase the number of ethnic minority and women physicians working in the NFL. The league, in a release announcing the program, said the NFL Physician’s Society reported that 86% of its membership identify as white, 8% as Asian, 5% Black and 1% Hispanic.
The Rams and Chargers this season will be among eight franchises that will host two medical students from four historically black colleges or universities — including Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. The students will serve two-month rotations that will focus on primary care sports medicine, orthopedics and athletic training.
“You’ve got a pipeline, but you also need a pool of candidates,” Scott said Thursday. “So, we want people to see this, to start saying … ‘I want to do this.’ ”
Scott said that in 2001 he was awarded a PFAT ethnic minority scholarship with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Rams and NFL paid $790 million to settle a suit with St. Louis over the team’s relocation to L.A., and every team is helping to foot the bill.
“That gets me in the door,” he said.
Scott said he intended to return to physical therapy school, but the Buccaneers trainer offered him a one-year fellowship. The next year, Scott said the Carolina Panthers called the Buccaneers asking if they knew of any possible candidates for a full-time assistant trainer opening.
Scott said the Buccaneers trainer replied, “ ‘Well, I have somebody right here I think you should hire.’ ”
Scott got the job, starting a career that included six seasons with the Panthers before the Rams hired him as head athletic trainer in 2010.
“Me getting that exposure, me getting my foot in the door, was the stepping-stone for me to get into the NFL,” he said of the internship program. “So, it shows that it works.”
Observations from the Rams’ organized team activity workout:
Running low on running backs
Running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson were not on the field, so second-year pro Jake Funk took most of the snaps with the first-team offense.
Rookie Kyren Williams continues to show that by training camp he could compete for a role. Williams caught a touchdown pass during a seven-on-seven drill inside the 20-yard-line.
Time to shine
With starters not participating in seven-on-seven drills, undrafted receiver Lance McCutcheon took advantage of the opportunity.
The 6-foot-3 McCutcheon, who played at Montana State, made an impressive touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone on the final play of the workout.
Allen Robinson gives the Rams a different look at wide receiver as they prepare to defend their Super Bowl title with offseason training.
On the mend
Receiver Jacob Harris, who is recovering from knee surgery, ran on the sidelines and did agility drills.
The 6-foot-5 Harris could provide the receiving corps with an added dimension if he is sound by training camp.
Picking his spot
Defensive back Jairon McVea intercepted a pass by quarterback Bryce Perkins.
McVea is an undrafted player from Baylor.
Members of Utah’s coaching staff were on hand to observe practice.
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