The first day in pads generally represents the real start of training camp.
For Rams cornerback Sam Shields, it represents something much bigger.
Via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com, the 30-year old Shields practiced in full pads Sunday, the first time he’s done so since a concussion ended his 2016 season after one game, and nearly cost him his career. He sat out all of last season before the Rams gave him a chance, cognizant of his four known concussions.
“It’s hard mentally for anybody to come back and put these pads on,” Shields said. “But like I said before, I’m just happy to be here with my brothers. That’s the most important part.”
Shields said he had to put aside fear of another traumatic brain injury, something he thought about constantly during his extended absence.
“I think I made the right choice,” he said. “You’ve got to be mentally strong.”
“He’s doing a great job,” Rams coach Sean McVay said of Shields. “Elite man-to-man skills, unbelievable lateral agility and just short-space quickness. He’s a great guy. . . . We’re hoping he’s able to stay healthy.”
That hope is tempered with reality, and plenty of breath-holding by those around him.