Rams know target is on their back

 

August 6, 2017

Kevin Wilson

Portales coach Jaime Ramirez goes over last-minute items at the Rams' Friday practice at Greyhound Stadium.

PORTALES — Logan McDaniel displays optimism — both in listing himself at 5-foot-8, 190 pounds and in declaring his Dallas Cowboys will win Super Bowl LII.

But the Portales senior is most optimistic about his Ram teammates.

"This is the hardest-working group I've been a part of," said McDaniel, a junior standout on a 2016 senior-laden defense that helped the Rams claim a Class 4A title.

But the rub is that Portales has to work harder, as the Rams are a few weeks from first-hand knowledge that staying on top of the mountain is just as hard as getting there.

Portales coach Jaime Ramirez reminded his players of a target on their backs throughout Friday's practice at Greyhound Stadium - a location that was set up well in advance of Thursday's heavy rains and fortunately good to go at 6 a.m. when Portales Athletic Director Mark Gallegos gave the facility a quick look.

Ramirez didn't even bother to look at the Rams' standard practice facility once he got the thumbs-up on the field Portales shares with Eastern New Mexico University. but he assumed it would be too drenched to do anything productive.

The Rams got much of their work out of the way before the humidity turned to heat and closed out a week of slow but steady improvement.

"We have a lot of new faces and a lot of guys that aren't familiar with some of the things we do," Ramirez said. "We've put in a little bit of what they're going to see. We want to make sure that whatever we run, we run well."

McDaniel's also part of that learning curve. He will retain his middle linebacker role where he posted 46 tackles — fourth on last year's team and tops among returners — but will transition from running back to right tackle on offense.

Ramirez said it was a matter of attrition, and having McDaniel fill a void instead of keeping him in a logjam at running back.

"I thought I'd hate it," McDaniel said. "Honestly, I like it a lot. It's been fun. It helps me at linebacker as well. I've got to learn to be a lineman in order to beat the lineman."

Even with McDaniel taking a spot, Ramirez said the offensive line remains the biggest competition because the Rams have plenty of positions to fill and each player looking to fill it is good albeit inexperienced.

The higher-profile battle, where Tyrese Dawson and Julian Urioste are contending for quarterback, has been too close for Ramirez to make a decision.

"They've both been good in spots," Ramirez said, "and they each have spots where they need to improve."

The Rams host a four-team scrimmage with New Mexico Military Institute, Eunice and the Clovis JV on Aug. 18, and open the season Aug. 25 at Texico.


 
 

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