The Los Angeles Rams opened up their 2017 training camp at UC Irvine last Saturday. And with five days of practice comes a lot of on-field news to catch up on. From injury reports to up-and-coming players, much has been said about the team’s first week of camp.
But don’t worry if you missed any of our team’s coverage from the past week – we’ve assembled five days worth of news into one convenient place. Check below for our top takeaways from the Rams first phase of training camp.
Defensive line depth tested
During their first week of camp, the Rams suffered a serious blow to their line after defensive end Dominique Easley was carted off the field with a season-ending knee injury.
Easley had been pegged as a projected starter on the D-line. In his absence, the Rams have pushed forth a “next man up” mentality, encouraging the rest of the defensive line to step up and compete for a starting role. According to head coach Sean McVay, the Rams will look within the organization to fill Easley’s void at the position.
“We’ve got some depth at that D-line like we’ve talked about – guys like Ethan Westbrooks will be asked to step up, Louis Trinca-Pasat, you are looking at Tanzel Smart,” McVay said. “So we’ll find different ways to continue to develop that depth and being mindful of some of the things moving forward. But that certainly is a big loss for us.”
Goff becoming a leader on the team
The Rams first week of training camp also brought us a true glimpse at the development of quarterback Jared Goff from year one to year two. Goff has looked more comfortable as a leader on this offense, holding his own in the pocket and showcasing confidence in his receivers.
During the offseason the Rams added several players to assist Goff both on the offensive line and among the wideout group, including left tackle Andrew Whitworth and wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
As the Rams starting quarterback this season, Goff has made a concentrated effort to become a vocal leader and an example for the rest of his teammates.
“I think you just grow, you get older, you have more experiences and you know how to carry yourself a little bit differently,” Goff said on the biggest differences between his first and second year of camp. “I don’t know if there’s any examples. Just as you get older, I can tell that with myself and the way I’m able to communicate with my teammates a lot better.”
“Just knowing I’m the guy that they’re going to look to,” he added. “It is my team to lead and my team to direct and control and command. I don’t take that lightly. I’m trying to put a lot of pride into that and try to do my best.”
New additions making an immediate impact
After five days of training camp there have been several players to catch my eye as potential impact-makers on the roster.
Rookie fullback Sam Rogers has been the first player out on the field every day for the past week, making a point of catching jugs before each practice. And his hard work has not gone unnoticed. Rogers has made his name known to many for several juking moves during the team drills and strong blocking abilities during the one-on-ones.
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Kupp and Woods have also come forward as promising starting receivers. Both have had several impressive catches, showcasing their strong hands and run-after-catch skills. In addition, they seem to be building a strong relationship with their quarterback. Though there are still a few timing kinks to work out on various deep routes, these two have proven themselves as reliable options for their QB.
And finally, defensive back Kayvon Webster has shined as a projected starter on the Rams’ secondary. Webster has had a seamless transition to the Rams defense thus far, reuniting with his former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. During week one of practice he has forced several incomplete passes in man coverage and proven himself as a defensive workhorse, working at the jug machine after every practice and on the sidelines with his teammates.
The “Wade Phillips” defense is on full display
Last, but certainly not least, the entire Rams defense under Phillips has come forward as the MVPs of week one. During the last five days, the defense has successfully begun its transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme. Linebackers Connor Barwin and Robert Quinn have looked strong on the outside, using the added mobility of Phillips’ scheme to blitz the quarterback on the pass rush.
The secondary has also been a strong spot for the Rams during the past five days, making noise both on the field and on the sidelines. Cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant and safeties coach Ejiro Evero have encouraged their players to be aggressive and make plays all over the field – challenging the offense each and every day.
“I think what we’re striving to see is just great competitiveness on both sides of the football,” McVay said of the strong defensive play. “I think when you look at it just seeing it firsthand right now watching it live, it seemed like it was a good balance back and forth between the offense and the defense. But absolutely as a coach, it’s about winning football games and any time you have a great defense, you give yourself a chance.”