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Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher, Players Talk About Preseason Opening Win Over Dallas Cowboys

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Here’s what the Rams had to say after last night’s 28-24 win to kick off the 2016 preseason in memorable fashion.

Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff hit as he throws
Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff hit as he throws
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher

(Opening Remarks)

"I just left the locker room five minutes ago, finishing up with the team, and I had to remind them that it was a preseason game. It was as if we just clenched the playoffs as far as they were concerned, and that’s always fun. It was a great evening. To come here and see the fans’ support not only from our fans, but the Cowboys’ fans it made for great competition. No one would’ve thought that our first play after coming home for over 20 years would end up in a kickoff return for a touchdown. I told the coaches that if we won the toss I wanted to defer the kickoff because I didn’t want the receivers to have to deal with the sun, so they won the toss, kicked the ball and now we’re down 7-0.

"Anyway, as far as the game is concerned, there’s always good things that happen in your first preseason game and there’s always so many things that you have to learn from. We’ve got our work cut out. We’re not close to being regular season-ready. Our defense against the run, we’ve got to get that fixed, granted we didn’t do it an awful lot, but still we can’t allow that to happen. Overall, I was pleased with the effort on special teams, and especially pleased with the comeback. (QB) Sean (Mannion) handled things like we expected him to, and we’re really proud of Sean. (QB) Jared’s (Goff) situation is pretty simple, he’s had a great camp. He’s ascending. The first hit he took his shoulder was a little sore, but he came back and finished the next series. He had a great throw to (WR Pharoh) Coop (Cooper), and Coop couldn’t hang on or we would’ve gotten points there. We went at half time to talk to him (Goff) and he was getting a little stiff, so I said, ‘I’m not going to mess with this.’ So we decided to go with Sean, but he’ll be fine. He’ll be back on the practice field this week, but it just didn’t make much sense particularly because of what he’s been able to do thus far. Injury-wise, I don’t think (WR) Nelson Spruce, who’s become a team favorite suddenly, being available with taking a fresh face, it’s nothing that’s going to keep him out for a long time. His knee is a little sore, but he’s going to be fine. And then (S) Brian Randolph, we’ll have some more information and we have to do tests. But other than that, we came to through better than expected. We had previously recollected not to play (RB) Todd (Gurley), not to play (DE) Rob (Quinn). They’ll play probably next week, but it just made sense to hold them out and let the other guys play. You know, if you look across the league some teams are not even playing any starters in this first preseason game. We wanted to get some work, but keep it simple and that was the case with the Cowboys as well. Overall good evening, so onto week two in preseason."

(On what he said to the team at halftime)

"There are so many guys in that locker room and it was so tight and the halftime was so short ,I didn’t say anything to them. No, I just said the young guys need to play. We’ve got 28 to 30 players in that locker room that for the first time played in their first NFL game, and I wanted them to know and watch and see the difference between the practice tempo and the speed and everything in the first couple of series. And they did. They saw how intense and how much faster these games are, and they watched and they responded the second half. A lot of big plays. We had a lot of situations of third-and-short where I told (Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Rob) Boras, who by the way I thought called a great game with what he had from a call sheet and his limitations, but he was on-key in two or three of those situations told us to take two shots on third-down, but we converted on third, so overall I thought he did well. "

(On Spruce’s opportunities moving forward)

"Well, we brought him here because we think he’s got a chance to help us win games. He’s talented. Look at what he did in college in setting the PAC-12 records. It’s pretty impressive and we’ve thought that well before the draft."

(On concerns with Goff working with the 2s protecting him like the 1s could)

"We’re going to give him some opportunities to go with the 1s. Protection wasn’t an issue, I don’t think, but I’m going to have to look at tape. But we will give him several opportunities to go with the 1s throughout preseason."

(On the atmosphere and how he was embraced by the fans)

"It was great. Any time you get close to the Coliseum it’s hard to get in because there’s so many people.  It’s fun. It was great. From the time we got in here, until just moments ago it was just really, really impressive, so we’re just glad to be back."

(On the way Goff handled the sequence coming back after he got hit)

"Yeah, he handled it really well. That throw to ‘Coop’ was a tough throw. I mean he stepped up in the pocket and he put the ball right on target. Now, it’s a tough catch too, but you want to dissect the play. It’s a tough play, but it’s an accurate throw and it’s in the only position where he’s got a chance to catch it. That shows you the arm strength. So he was fine. Nothing was too big for him. He was at ease and it was kind of fun to watch him play."

(On Goff’s demeanor after he threw the pick)

"Yeah, he was fine. He got hit and the ball fluttered and that’s part of football. He understands that. Unfortunately that’s what he’s probably going to have to watch for the next couple of days, but no it doesn’t bother him."

(On TE Tyler Higbee’s plays being a continuation of his play in training camp)

"Yes, Tyler’s just carrying over the things he’s doing on the practice field into games, and that’s what we expect from him. Same thing with Nelson (Spruce), he’s been doing the same thing. We dropped some balls, and that’s on the list of things that we have to correct and eliminate. I think our penalties were down. We had a couple of penalties that I’ll have to go back and look at that were hard for them to explain to me. Beyond that, we protected the football, I thought, pretty well. We’ve got another big week of ball this week."

(On the secondary, and what grade he would give their performance)

"I have to look at the tape. I haven’t seen it. Keep in mind that we’re very, very basic, and we rotated people and both (S) TJ (McDonald) and ‘Mo’ (Maurice Alexander) played a little bit longer than (CB) Trumaine (Johnson). And then we started rotating, so they didn’t really get an opportunity to play that much, so it’s an ongoing process."

(On this week’s Hard Knocks episode turning little things into big stories, and how he’s dealing with the magnitude of the way things are in the city of LA)

"Well, it’s a big deal for everybody. It’s a big deal for our fans and it’s a big deal for everyone in the organization, including me. Part of your question is how are we dealing with Hard Knocks - absolutely loving the experience. I couldn’t expect a more professional group of people that just basically kind of disappear when you go about your business as usual. I’m looking forward to this week and working with them again. I did get a chance to see it and I was laughing like some of you guys were at a lot of stuff. The most important thing to realize is that’s our world and that’s what they’re capturing. We don’t have a bunch of actors out there. These are football players that are being themselves. I mentioned this the other day, I think (DT) Aaron Donald would have taken his shirt off and played ping pong whether Hard Knocks was there or not. That’s Aaron Donald. So, it’s been a great experience."

(On little snippets becoming big stories due to Hard Knocks footage)

"No. I mean, that moment there that I was having with the team, that was between me and the team and we welcomed them in there. And as I mentioned the other day, there was more to that than what was aired, but I mean that’s our world. This is important to us. Winning football games is important to us and it should be to our fans."

(On how much more he was planning to play Goff)

"You know, probably two more series, maybe two or three more series. I was hoping that Sean could come in end of third quarter, finish, and then maybe I could get (QB) Dylan (Thompson) in. That was kind of that ideal world perfect plan, but they never go as you expect because there’s a turnover score here, or there’s a long drive. And you know, I’m constantly saying how many snaps do we have offensively and how many series is that per case and then okay, let’s make the change. You’ve got a perfect world and you try to stay as close to that as you can."

(On QB Sean Mannion)

"Oh that’s Sean. Sean got to play a little against Cincinnati last year at the end of the game when we were out and the game he was stunning. He was 5-for-6 or 6-for-7. Sean is competitive. He’s having a great camp. He’s tall, he can see. He stood in there, took a hit and spread the ball around. He knows where to get rid of the football, so I was really happy for him. And he loved it. It’s been a year since he’s really got to go play like that and win the game at the end."

(On the player’s response to the energy difference in LA compared to St. Louis)

"They could definitely feel, after we came in from warm-ups and with some of the guys that were no longer playing, the response was, "Hey, this is really cool." Some of them had not had that in their professional career, so it was really cool."

Rams QB Case Keenum

(On the assessment of tonight’s performance)

"You know, it’s never as good as it seems or as bad as it seems. I thought we did well on our scoring drive, obviously. The other two series that we were out there going three-and-out, you never want to do that. There were self-inflicted deals, we got a penalty on one and just a miscommunication and a drop on the other, but it’s stuff that we can fix and stuff that we are going to continue to get better."

(On the atmosphere arriving today and playing in LA)

"It was awesome. You guys were out there. The Coliseum was really cool and I told some guys on the sidelines but it seems like this city is ready for football and the fact that there were 60,000 people that stayed until the very end there - that was awesome. I really, really really had a lot of fun and I know our guys did, too. I hope this city knows that we are going to fight hard for them every time we step on that field. We are working our tails off to be the best that we can be and it was fun to see the support we had

(On the first play where the Cowboys returned to kick for a touchdown)

"You never want that to happen, but I was upset that we didn’t get the ball first. So we wound up getting the ball first. It’s obviously not something you want to happen like that, but I think we responded well."

(On the rhythm in the huddle and how the players were responding to him)

"Yeah, I think in practice you can try to replicate the play clock and a drive-like scenario as far as when we do unscripted team periods where we move the ball, but you can’t get anything like game experience. So, being able to get in and out of the huddle, the one when we got the penalty on the third-down and then they start the clock pretty quickly. Just little stuff like that, little game-type management stuff that the pre-season is good to work for and I don’t think we have, I guess the one penalty but other than that, it goes to show the scoring drives we had were ones that didn’t have penalties on them."

(On how significant it is to win the first game back in LA)

"It’s a lot of fun. I think we all had a lot of fun. The significance of it - I love to win, everybody in that locker room likes to win. We hate the alternative. Every time we step on the field, we are trying to do that. I think significance of all this, it’s a bigger picture than me and my feeble opinions that I have on it. I know that there is a lot bigger picture there that obviously for a lot of different people that came

(On the emphasis to get into a rhythm and stay with it based on difficulties last year)

"Yeah, I think that it is obviously very important in this game. It’s about stringing good plays together, into a good drive. It’s about converting on third-downs and then good drives equal points. It’s about streaming sets of drives together to score multiple times. It’s about doing it at the right time, responding when defense runs an opening kick-off. It’s about responding and we didn’t do that in the first series. It’s very important, the rhythm of...the flow of the game."

(On the play with WR Nelson Spruce)

"Spruce. Yeah, that was awesome, man. He played really well. It’s no different than what we’ve been seeing in practice. He’s a really good football player and as a quarterback, you like knowing where guys are going to be receiver-wise, and he’s a guy you know where he is going to be. He’s going to be in the right place, at the right time and he made some really good plays

(On any guys who he thinks has no shot in making the team an how they played today)

"No, I don’t judge who is going to make the team or not. There is always the pre-season - you always have guys that come out and surprise you when it turns into full contact and tackling. There are those plays in practice you tagged off and you don’t know who’s tackling who or what and you know, running backs, its always fun to watch those guys. (RB) Aaron Green

Rams QB Jared Goff

(On how he feels after his performance today)

"Good. I think first of all, I’m pretty happy we won. I’m really happy to see all the fellow rookies play the way that they there did at the end. The way (QB) Sean (Mannion) put that last one in. Yeah I’m very happy."

(On how his knee feels after taking a hit in the first quarter)

"Yeah, it’s fine. I’ve played through much worse. It was just a little precautionary thing. It should be fine in a couple of days."

(On his thoughts regarding the way he responded after his first series)

"Yeah, I just try to do my best. I knew that I wanted to do better than that first drive. I think in our first drive, I was really able to kind of get my bearings and get settled in. I told a few people today, on that second drive, it was like I was playing regular football again. It was back to high school or college, just playing football and felt comfortable. I expected it to take a few plays, and it did. But yeah, I don’t expect to have that transition anymore, I feel good now."

(On whether or not he saw the first player hit him during the first drive that led to the interception)

"No, I didn’t see him. Clearly, I didn’t see him, or else I probably wouldn’t have got hit by him."

(On his thoughts regarding the protection on the interception)

"Yeah, they got us on a nice blitz . They got us. You get beat sometimes. They dialed up something pretty nice, and got us."

(On what he has learned from this experience today)

"At the end of the day, it’s all 11 guys on the field, and 100 yards, and it's still the same game. I think I came into the game really thinking that as well. There was a transition of speed, so it does take a couple of plays. Like I said, I was able to settle in and get comfortable. I felt great."

(On how to bounce back from the disappoint of receivers dropping balls)

"It’s not disappointment. I make errors, teammates make errors, it happens to everybody. Just move on to the next play. It’s not anything you fret on, or talk about. You try to pick him up. Nine times out of ten, you go right back to him. I think they're fine."

(On how to establish a good rapport with TE Tyler Higbee)

"He’s my roommate. We hang out a lot. I think he’s pretty damn good. He’s a big receiving tight end, and strong, and physical, and runs great routes, and knows what he’s doing. Reliable I think is the best word to describe it."

(On whether he feels like a real NFL quarterback)

"Yeah, yeah I think so. When we were out there for warm-ups and saw the NFL in the middle of the field, and saw NFL is on everyone’s jersey, you kind of realize, ‘Oh, we’re here.’ It was exciting. I’m very happy with the final result. Hopefully next week, I can get a little bit more production. But at the same time, I’m very happy with the final result. I’m very happy to see my teammates do what they did, it was really exciting."

(On whether he has experience responding from a bad play)

"Absolutely, yeah. It’s something I always think back to. And use that experience as a lesson for my career now and in the future. It’s something that was tough and had to really grind through it. It allows me to see the big picture and not really focus on one little mistake. It’s something you can’t get back. Just move on to the next play and go out there and do your best."

(On what he said when he was in the huddle prior to the final touchdown pass that QB Sean Mannion threw)

"I don't think I said anything to him. I think they were telling him the play and I was writing it down. I don't think I said anything to him."

(On what he thought about WR Nelson Spruce's performance)

"He's a baller. He played really well and I'm very happy for him. The same thing like I said about all those guys who were in there late. To play as well as they did is exciting. All those guys are in my rookie class and it was fun to see. Nelson is a guy I trained with. For us to be on the same team now and to see him do that is really exciting. I was very happy for him. Everyone started doing the 'Spruce' (chant), it was cool."

(On how comfortable he was calling the plays in the huddle)

"Great. That was a transition that took place a little while ago and, where I'm at now, I feel really comfortable with it."

(On what the reaction was like from the fans for the first NFL game in Los Angeles in 22 years)

"They stayed until the fourth quarter of a preseason game and were on their feet for the whole fourth quarter, so you can kind of tell what it means to them and how exciting it is to have a team back here. When we ran out of the tunnel, how excited everyone was. The National Anthem and everything was just really cool and you could tell that the atmosphere was just awesome. I expect it to be like that most games in the regular season, as well."

(On if he argued against coming out of the game or if he just did as he was told)

"No, just do what I was told. Just had a quick little chat and it was not a tough decision because I didn't really make a decision."

(On how much he would have liked to play another series)

"It would have been great, but I have a lot of football ahead of me and I know that. I'll be fine. I have a whole career ahead of me to play and this preseason hopefully I can continue to play at a high level."

(On how the transition of going from college to the NFL has changed how he approaches his growth or his adjustments)

"No, I don't think that's had an impact on me or changed the way I've approached anything. It's really - I've said it a few times - it's just football at the end of the day and I try to keep it like that. A lot of times, when people make things more than it is and they focus on the outside factors, it doesn't really help them, and I know that. I've been raised to really focus on what matters and I'm able to do that."

(On what he would like to build on what he did today)

"I was happy with the second drive we had and getting it down there. I would have loved to finish the drive and score, obviously, and finish the half with a score. But I think I can build off a lot of stuff I did in that drive. I did some things there that I was pleased with, I threw some good balls and had some guys up there running some good routes. The o-line did a great job, we checked some stuff. It was good. It was a lot of good stuff and I hope to continue to improve on that and just continue to get better this preseason."

(On if there is anything he picks up when he watches QB Case Keenum and QB Sean Mannion in a game situation)

"I think the new thing, for me being a rookie, is the sideline (Microsoft) Surface we have, we didn't have that in college. Seeing them interact with that, seeing what they're looking for and what they talk about after the play - what they're looking at, so stuff like that is helpful. Sean and Case have been great, they're obviously veterans that know what they're doing. They've been really helpful."

(On how many times he's been asked about his quote on Hard Knocks about where the sun rises)

"I haven't been asked about it too much. I've been joked about it a lot, but it's been fun. I know now and I'll never forget."

Rams CB Trumaine Johnso

(On what he was thinking after watching Dallas return the opening kickoff)

"'Oh no - we can't start like this.' We started slow, we started flat - special teams and the defense. We let up an 80-yard drive for a touchdown. We started flat, but I'm glad we came out with the win. The young guys came out there and pulled it out."

(On if he felt that the defense was a little rusty early on)

"Not rusty, we just started flat and it's not acceptable - especially coming out in the first game out here. We just started flat. To go 80 yards in the first (offensive) drive and score, it was not like us.

(On if a preseason game can make a difference in terms of momentum)

"Of course. It's a win. We didn't win too many games last year, we lost a lot of close games. So for us to come back in this environment with 90,000 people watching, that's big for us and I'm glad we won."

(On how he thinks the competition is shaking out at the other cornerback position)

"It's a battle. It's a battle at my position - I'm not safe. You have to go out there and prove yourself every year. I don't care if you're a starter or if you're a free agent or a first-rounder, you still have to go out there and prove yourself. But it's a battle, for sure."

(On if any of the young players impressed him tonight)

"(WR Nelson) Spruce. He had it going on the offensive side. He made some tremendous catches on third and fourth down. If anybody, it was him, for me."

Rams LB Akeem Ayers

(On the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum's atmosphere today compared to when he was in college at UCLA, playing as a visitor)

"It was a lot different. You could tell the fans were loving it. They were excited for some football. It was a preseason game and everyone was here and stayed the entire game. It was a lot different than what you would usually see during the preseason."

(On what he liked and what his concerns were defensively)

"We have a lot that we could fix. We gave up a lot of points - something that we usually try to stay away from. We don't like to give up that many points. Guys are playing hard. We still have a lot to learn. We still have a new group of guys at new positions. We're still learning and there were a lot of good things out there and of course there were a lot of bad things as well."

(On having almost 90,000 fans for a preseason game)

"Yeah, it was exciting. The fans are all into it - from beginning to end. Just to see that many people come out for a preseason game, it just tells you the type of fans that we now have. It just shows how much they love football and how much they're excited to have an NFL team. We had great support - they were loud the entire game - we fed off it the entire game. Us, as players, we really, really appreciated that. We love the support that the fans have given us."

Rams RB Benny Cunningham

(On what the team, and himself, needs to improve on moving forward)

"I feel like we just need to come out and start faster. I feel like the earlier drives they were minimum mistakes, penalties, kind of working out the kinks, and settled in. We can most definitely get better all around. Just coming back to practice, we most definitely have a strong point, and want to continue to build on that."