In total, I got the chance to attend and observe three Rams practices and a scrimmage. Of course these practices were all in the first one-third portion of training camp, and with a month before the first game kicks off so much can change in that time.
But in the time spent at these practices, there are a few points that has consistently stood out each practice. Some good, and some not so good.
- Greg Robinson might be the most improved player on the team. He looks good out there. Albeit, with pads or no pads. Every day he has brought the ferocious athleticism that made him the number two overall pick. But most importantly he is playing fast and thinking less.
- Foles has thrown a lot of interceptions. He has struggled most with throws to the sidelines and the intermediate to deep middle. Most of the the deeper throws have been overthrown. He has flashed some good throws as well though. These throws have mainly gone to Jared Cook and Stedman Bailey. He looks to have built the best connection with those guys.
- Todd Gurley is huge. A legitimately big back. His knee however, doesn't appear to be ready as he still looks a little uncomfortable when running sprints and does not open stride as fluidly as he has gained a reputation for. With that said, he does seem to make some cuts better than others which is a good sign and says he's closer to a return than the Rams are leading on. The hurdles might be more mental than physical. I wouldn't be surprised if he plays week one and touches the ball about ten times
- Rodger Saffold looks good. I have watched him stalemate Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers with ease. In fact I only seen him lose one battle and that was to Donald in the first practice I attended. Funny how when you fix your shoulder your level of play elevates.
- Tavon Austin is going to be used a lot. For the first time since his arrival, I have seen Austin on the field more often than not regardless of personnel. As I said weeks ago, I am expecting a lot of screens and go routes out of Austin this season, and 70 total touches seems 100% feasible.
- The secondary could steal the spotlight this season. They look like a completely different group. This will be a top 12 group this season. One interesting package has six defensive backs and four are safeties, with Mark Barron and Maurice Alexander playing in the box with two backers. But they never seem to sit still which so far has caused confusion. Gregg Williams meant it when he said he has a lot of packages and will get everyone involved. You can tell he really bust his ass this off season. This secondary is deep, locked, and loaded.
- Lance Kendricks has not been talked about much but he does indeed look like he will be more involved this season. This leads me to believe there will be a lot of 12 personnel being used this season.
- Back-up quarterback continues to be an issue. Case Keenum has been very shaky. Austin Davis has shined bright, but also lived in the dark, consistency remains an issue. Sean Mannion has made at least one jaw dropping throw every single practice. But he has made far more mistakes than good plays. This is expected for a thrid round rookie QB, but the last thing the Rams need is to have to turn to him at all this season.
- Jamon Brown has looked pretty solid in one on one drills. He's been every bit as physical as he was said to be, and surprisingly has not been as easy to beat in pass protection as he was expected. He has gotten better in that regard each day. He'll be someone I watch closely in preseason games.
- In all the chatter about Gurley and Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham has been somewhat of the forgotten man. However, he has looked like an improved player. He continues to out work players in the off-season and it shows in his consistent growth. Don't expect to see him out carry the aforementioned backs, but the idea that his role will drastically shrink may be extremely premature. He looks like someone the coaches will have a hard time keeping off the field on passing downs. 70-80 touches still seem very likely. he has caught everything and hasnot been beaten in pass pro in any of the practices I've attened. That can't be said about any other back. He also looks faster. He's another guy to keep an eye on.
No Names, Making Names
- Keep an eye out for Bradley Marquez. Every single practice, I have seen him making plays. At only 5'10" 195lbs, he looks like a player that could have a future at either slot or out wide. He runs very good routes creating separation. He has made some very tough catches and shows a nice burst when accelerating for deep throws. He looks like a player that will make the practice squad but depending on how he plays in the preseason games he could push for a spot on the 53. Chris Givens has looked shaky and inconsistent. He should be looking over his shoulder.
- Imoan Claiborne is almost certainly fighting for a spot on the practice squad as the defensive back depth chart is all but set in stone. But he may earn that spot on the practice squad if he can continue to grow. He has made a few splash plays and had some good break ups here and there. He has to make more of these plays more consistently, but he has showed up enough to warrant consideration.
I went for another shot at a Q&A with Dani Klupenger, unfortunately it did not come into fruition as she wasn't doing much reporting and/or interacting with anyone on this day, but just watching and chilling. Looks like I took the permanent L, sorry guys.