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Los Angeles Rams Special Teams Coach John Fassel Points Out Who’s Surprising In Camp

Here’s how the Rams’ special teams coordinator sees his unit shaping up with just two days to the preseason opener.

Los Angeles Rams Special Teams Coach John Fassel
Los Angeles Rams Special Teams Coach John Fassel
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams Special Teams Coach John Fassel

(On if he wished he was in the pool working with the linemen instead of on the practice field)

“No, I’d much rather be out here. Although I love swimming, nothing beats the grass.”

(On the value of the one-on-one special teams drills)

“A lot of it is really a little bit of a warm-up, come out of stretch to warm them up. Plus we like to see on tape, individual guys moving, reacting, bending, twisting, turning, all of the stuff that shows up when you start doing 11-on-11. Plus it’s fun to kind of compact some things and do some different drills”

(On who is standing out on special teams)

“That’s another really good question. I’ll probably stay away from some names, but like I said last time, really good group of linebackers, we always have running backs that have been bonus guys, quite a few. We will see in the game, I’ll probably have a better answer for you after we actually play real football, because things change when it really starts happening.”

(On what he looks for in the preseason games that is more difficult to evaluate in practice)

“I think guys that are willing to collide and be open-field tacklers. Out here we can simulate the movements and the techniques, but when you get in the game, and you’ve got a live runner and you’ve got to square him up and collide and block, or two-gap and tackle; those things really stand out that is different from what we get on the practice field. ”

(On the value of watching tape and meeting with players after practice as mentioned by LB Cameron Lynch)

“I’m glad Cam said that, because last year, Cam was in my office after every practice, every night, every morning. Along with (WR) Bradley (Marquez) and the year before (RB) Chase (Reynolds), all of the guys that have become our core special teams guys. They just can’t get enough. They just hang out in the office. We just watch film, we watch them in the drill, we watch other NFL players who we think are really good on special teams, the similar positions. Something about a football player that just can’t get enough football that seems to always have the edge.”

(On the team improving in camp during the first two weeks)

“Yeah, definitely. Where you really see the improvement is (players) who were rookies last year, and they’ve had a year under their belt, how much better they get after a year. Then the rookies this year, from OTAs, where they have no idea about drills and techniques and they probably haven’t played (special) teams since their freshman year in college, improve from just OTAs to right now. By the end of the year, it’s really fun from a special teams coach’s perspective, to take a guy that is really raw and might not know, that grows into a really good player.”

(On the growth of Lynch from last year to now)

“Last year, Cam, Bryce (Hager), and Bradley (Marquez), were three rookies that started out really, not confident in the spring, then they got the experience and now they’re almost like the leaders. I call them vets, they were rookies last year. Cam is one of those guys, Cam and those guys have really good guys to look up to, Chase (Reynolds), and (Cory) Harkey, from 2012 Cody (Davis) and Benny (Cunningham) from 2013, and the year go on and on, for guys that show the younger guys the right way to practice and it carries over to games.”

(On if the Coliseum will impact the return game)

“Not really for the return game, unless the sun... A little bit for the kickers, because there’s a depth perception at either end with the field goals. One side where it’s the torch and it’s kind of an arch with a hole in it, so there’s some depth perception. Then, the other side is just a huge grandstand, bowl. There’s things we worked on in the Coliseum, targets, because there is some weird sighting depending on which way you kick.”

(On if the amount of time it takes a kicker to get comfortable kicking in the Coliseum)

“Probably though the preseason; a Coliseum workout and two preseason games. We’re going to try and get there one more time before San Francisco after the preseason games. Yeah, it’s a factor. ”

(On the remaining special teams only practices)

“I don’t think it’s scheduled, although I’ll always ask for one. Then, the drill we finished up with at the end, we kind of started a tradition, make them think we’re going to do some conditioning and then we just compete one more time. Whittle it down to a grand champion, and (P Johnny) Hekker gave them a gift, it was kind of fun.

(On the final drill of practice)

“We call it a strongman; we take their legs out of it. There’s a ball, two guys, they each get to put a hand on it and on my whistle, they try to yank it from the other. We call it ‘August Madness’ like March Madness. It starts with maybe 32 guys, you lose, now there’s 16, losers out, just whittle it down to the one shining moment.”

(On the prize for winning strongman)

“A Bose speaker system from (Johnny) Hekker, I think it was a couple hundred bucks. So, they were going to compete to win, but as soon as that prize went up, all of the sudden their ears perked up and we got a little more out of them.”

(On his thoughts on the Hard Knocks premier)

“When I saw my daughter, the little blondie, run into my arms, I have to say, I almost cried. I didn’t know it was going to happen, I was watching, I had no idea. It was really fun to see the special teams and the yoga, the special teams, then yoga, then I saw my daughter and I was like, ahh”

(On if his daughter knows where the sun rises)

“She’s always at the beach, so she knows. She knows it sets in the west, she sees it about every night.

(On players not knowing which direction the sun rises and sets)

“They don’t know. I had to think about it when you just asked me. I was like, ‘wait a second.’ We got our minds on football right now.

(On if being on the West Coast impacts players not knowing which direction the sun rises)

“That could be! Since we almost kind of switch, when we were in St. Louis, the sun is like in the middle. So, I don’t know. When they asked the questions, I was thinking about it, too. In the air, yeah, the Earth, yeah…”