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Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher Explains Why Aaron Donald Is So Good

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Fish and Boras talked to the press yesterday about QB Jared Goff, TE Tyler Higbee and more.

Los Angeles Rams WR Tavon Austin
Los Angeles Rams WR Tavon Austin 
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher

(On practice today)

“Practice was good. I can’t ever remember where we didn’t have a good practice. There were some highlights in it and some things we’re going to have to correct. The two, two-minute drives that we had were extraordinary. It’s really, really fun once you get into that. And we’ll be doing that quite often as we move through camp – just putting offense and defense in different situations. It’s not only good for players, but it’s good for coaches because every scenario ends up being different. You can start with 1:10 and one timeout, down by a touchdown and you never know what you’re going to end up with. I thought the offense handled it really well, there was some cerebral things that took place in both drives.”

(On what it is about DT Aaron Donald that enables him to do so many things at such a young age when, in some circles, he’s not your typical defensive lineman)

“Aaron, he’s exceptionally strong and explosive. Then you add the instincts to it and he’s very, very smart. Aaron will watch the huddle break and he’ll look out and look at receiver splits and see where the tight end is and what the back’s depth is and pressure on offensive linemen’s stances and basically know where the ball is going. Because of that, he puts himself in position to make so many plays.”

(On how happy he is with the progression of TE Tyler Higbee)

“He’s a rookie in training camp that’s just getting better every day. He had to work through some injury issues through the OTAs, but he’s there. He’s been there every day. He’s making plays, blocking is something that’s improving that we need to continue to work on. As far as going down the field and catching the football and running after catch, he has got all those qualities to play in the open.”

(On how he felt QB Jared Goff did in the two-minute drills today)

“It was designed to give him a chance to work with the 1s in two-minute. He took the ball right down the field and got points and that was good – not necessarily good for the defense, but it was good for Jared and the offense. It’s always good to get him working with the other offensive linemen and get him a chance to work with (C) Tim (Barnes) from a communications standpoint, because Tim is so smart up front. Tim can take some of that load off him and let him play.”

(On if there was something he wanted to see WR Brian Quick focus on this offseason.)

“No different than anybody else, but we stressed improvement, the relationship with his new coach (wide receivers/passing game coordinator Mike Groh), different techniques, different types of routes. Somewhat of an offensive change that we went through and he’s done that; he’s making plays, he’s going up, he’s elevating, he’s staying healthy. He’s running all day long, which is good, he really conditions himself and put (himself) in a position to get ready for camp. Hopefully that will translate over into production in the preseason games.”

(On the decision to bring in Mike Groh)

“We made some hard decisions, not only during the season, but after the season was over – changes were necessary. So, we went out and tried to hire the best guys we could. It was an opportunity for us to be able to talk to Mike as a passing game coordinator. The Bears and (Head) Coach (John) Fox gave us permission and it really fit in because (offensive coordinator) Rob’s (Boras) expertise is in the run game and the play-action and protection. I just wanted to expand it a little bit in the passing game. Watching tape and having played the Bears and being familiar with what they were doing, in the passing game, was kind of the direction we wanted to go. It’s been great, he’s handled it really well and they’re working really well together. So hopefully it turns into production for us.”

(On if he’s had a chance to see the robotic tackling dummies on the field and what his thoughts are)

“Yeah, it’s kind of cool. We were aware of it, we were aware of the concept and the prototypes a long time ago and they just got the first two out, so we invited them out. There’s a place for it, there’s a place for it at our level and there’s a place for these things at all levels. In this day and age when we’re so concussion-conscious and contact-conscious, live contact between players, you want to reduce as much as you can – but you still have to have the contact. This is an opportunity to hit a bag that’s moving and a bag that moves around pretty fast. We had the demonstration right after the walk-thru and even got to drive it a little bit. It’s kind of cool. If I could get it to go upstairs, I could have them do bed-check.”

(On if Goff will continue to get playing times with the 1s)

“Yeah, that’s part of the process. As I mentioned, he’s getting walk-thru reps with the 1s. This is one of the first or second times he’s gotten live reps with the 1s, but that will increase.”

(On if the media can read into that, if a quarterback change is imminent)

“Read whatever you want. I’m going to start him when he’s ready to play. It’s all about the process and it’s about being patient.”

(On if the change in the rookie wage scale makes it easier for a guy to be able to come along slowly)

“There’s really no financial consideration entering into our decision.”

(On if that change plays into how a roster is constructed)

“I don’t think so. The higher you draft players, the quicker you want them to play. I don’t think it does – maybe at some other positions. You can rest assured that you’ve got a good deal for four or five years. If you’ve done your homework and you get the right guy and you’re efficient in the organization, you’re extending the contracts before they expire.”

(On if he typically doesn’t have tackling practices before games)

“We tackled today, we don’t tackle to the ground, but we form tackle every day on defense – whether we’re in pads or not, there’s some type of tackling drill that we do. We had 10 plays at the Coliseum Saturday that were live plays where we did tackle to the ground, but typically we wait. I, personally, always wait until the preseason. That’s the first thing that we address in the game is tackling. That’s always an issue, there’s always more missed tackles in the first preseason game than there are in the second and the third and the fourth because you just haven’t done it from a live, go to the ground standpoint.”

Rams Offensive Coordinator Rob Boras

(On how things have been going the past two weeks)

“Good! Obviously, we’re just going through the teaching process of everything, for all the players, and still installing the offense, and all the different situations that (Head) Coach (Jeff) Fisher is putting in. Each day, we just try to attack that day.”

(On how is QB Jared Goff doing, and what do you expect from him this Saturday in the first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys)

“Jared is getting better. Just like we hope everybody is getting better. Again, every day is a new day. A lot of the install that we put in today was the first time that these guys got to do it. Not just him, but for everybody. It takes guys two or three times running the play before they really feel comfortable with it, and you saw that across the offense today. So, Jared is handling everything well. Obviously, we want him just to relax Saturdaynight. It’s just kind of like when we started OTAs and we started training camp, everybody gets on edge, there’s a lot of expectations. The more that he can go out there and just settle in, like we saw him settle in at the coliseum during the family day, he’s going to play confident. We know he’s talented, so, him just doing what he does. And obviously everyone else just playing football around him.”

(On whether or not the coaching staff has formulated a game plan on usage on how much Jared is going to play Saturday against the Cowboys)

“No. Right now, we’re dialed in, tomorrow is the special teams practice, and then we’re doing install number nine, and then after that we’ll start talking about the Cowboys. Right now, it’s about the Rams getting better. And we’ll talk the playing time, we’ll figure out exactly what we’re going to do game-plan wise. We want to run plays that guys are comfortable with. But, we’re just focusing on, right now, the Rams getting better.”

(On if the mentality of the players have changed from last week to this week)

“Players are resilient, I don’t know if it’s changed much. You know, obviously, it was exciting to be in that Coliseum. I think that all of the guys felt that and they were prepared for that. And I think their excited to get back in there. They understand though they’ve got to deal with, today was win Tuesday. And then we’re back out here Thursday, it’s winning Thursday. And eventually, we’ll try to win Friday, and the next day. So, they know it’s out there. But again, we’ve got to make sure that they’re focused on today.”

(On what you’ve seen out of TE Tyler Higbee that has shown you he is a consistent player)

“Tyler really has handled everything well. It started fast, and I don’t know why, but you get to that point where you’re kind of waiting for that rookie slump, if you win for a couple of days, it hasn’t happened. He’s mentally tough. He’s handled the installation well. We’re putting him in some situations that he wasn’t asked to do in college, and handling it very well. Every day is a learning experience, and he’s going to see some things in the run game and protections that he’s got to improve, but he’s just a mentally tough kid that is determined to succeed.”

(On the kind of situations have you put TE Tyler Higbee in)

“Blocking (DE) Will Hayes. There’s not many Will Hayes. When you’re asked to block that, that’s different than what he’s had to do. You do that enough times, you better learn how to drop your pads and play a little stronger.”

(On WR Pharoh Cooper not falling into a rookie slump)

“Coop is handling everything really well. We love what Pharoh can do. It’s great to get him back out and just, obviously Saturday night we’re going to try and get those guys going and just feeling comfortable, and not trying to overthink anything.”

(On being an offensive coordinator now, and how have things gone for him personally these past few weeks of training camp)

“It’s just like the players. Every day is a new day. This is my first time going through the training camp experience. I’d be lying if I say I’m still not learning, and that’s why we come out and practice. It’s a new day. Just like I challenge the players to try and attack that day and us coaches, we have to have that same sort of mentality. So, tomorrow is a new day and coach is going to put us in different situations. And then those team periods where it’s not scripted, you got to think and tries to make it as game-like as possible. Between the offensive staff and everything that’s going on, it’s been a great group to work with.”

(On the limitations when you’re practicing against each other and when you’re still installing the system)

“Well what we’ve tried to do is not change our rules. Offense, you need to know your rules. And if you start game planning specifically against Coach (Gregg) Williams’ defense and you change your rules, then you’re going to struggle to succeed when the game really matters. Again, it’s just teaching the rules, understanding what the foundation is, and they can always go back to that.

(On what do you see Saturday that you just can’t see out here on the practice field)

“Well, the speed. We try to get fast here, but for a lot of these guys, speed on Saturday, even in the preseason, it’s going to be a step higher than what they’re getting in practice. Then when we have the opener, it’s going to be a step faster. And a lot of these young guys are not going to really recognize how much faster the game is on Sunday, or Monday night in this case. It’s different, and it’s going to be different Saturday for them. That’s why you have preseason games, so those guys can understand how it changes.”

(On having two tight ends you’re comfortable with, is that something you’re looking for)

“Obviously, anytime, really, three with Cory Harkey, and obviously we’re bringing Temarrick (Hemingway) along, and all those guys in that group. The more guys that you can have do multiple jobs, so that they’re lining up as a tight end and maybe as a fullback. Or, they’re lined up as slot receiver. Hopefully we can dictate and it provides a little bit more versatility for us. So, we’re looking for that with all of these tight ends.”