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TRANSCRIPT: LA Rams HC Sean McVay, OC Matt LaFleur

Here’s what the two offensive tutors had to say after practice today.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay
Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(Opening Remarks)

“From an injury standpoint, everybody was back full except for (OLB) Connor (Barwin) and (WR) Robert Woods and both of those players will be out for the game. Everybody else was a full participant and then (RBs) Malcolm (Brown) and Lance (Dunbar) are the only ones that are listed as questionable for the game, but they were both back practicing today. We’ll find out about their availability before the game.”

(On if how much flexibility it gives him at the running back position if those two guys are back)

“It certainly gives you flexibility. We’ll figure that out from a numbers standpoint, how we get to our 46, but it’s looking like they’ll both be available and then how we go about that will be determined right before kickoff. So, it will be good.”

(On WR Pharoh Cooper emerging as a top kick returner)

“Yeah, he’s done a great job. I think when you look at the return units as a whole, real credit to ‘Bones’ (Rams Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) and Ty (Rams Assistant Special Teams Coordinator Tyrone McKenzie) and some of the things they’ve set up. But, anytime that you see an individual having as much success as he’s had, it is a credit to those other 10 that are blocking and setting things up. But, I think when you see the ball in Pharoh’s hands – a very confident player, can make things happen, has got an understanding and a good feel for the return game. I think he’s caught the ball consistently well, especially just looking at the punt returns as you’re getting more and more comfortable with that phase of our special teams unit and he’s been a big part of it. That’s why you see, he’s just a good football player. I think you just watch his development as a receiver as well, continues to get more and more comfortable and you win with players like Pharoh Cooper.”

(On if Cooper’s long returns alter the way he calls a game)

“I think typically when you’re still in kind of what we consider the normal field, you stay right on schedule. If you took one back, which wouldn’t be a problem at all, back to the one or inside the 20 then you’re kind of operating off of your red zone menu. But, for the most part when he’s able to get some of those big returns, what it does is it gives us that immediate field position, which you feel a lot better about. But, we pretty much stay on schedule with kind of what our drive starters and that kind of menu of plays that we’re thinking is.”

(On how good WR Cooper Kupp’s arm is)

“Well, it didn’t work out too well last week. I think there was some inside pressure, but he’s got a good arm. He threw it a lot in college and what he did there was a smart throw away. That was actually a throw away, that was good coverage by the Saints, so he was digging at his feet, but not running the risk of getting any sort of penalty right there. He’s got a great arm. As far as the amount of trick plays that we’ll have moving forward, maybe we will and maybe we won’t, but we’ll see.”

(On how much Kupp’s aptitude on reading defenses plays into that)

“We’re not asking him to recognize and read coverage and progress through with a bunch of different eligibles, but we do trust his decision-making where if one isn’t there we give you maybe a second option and then it’s a throw away and live to fight another down. That decision-making is very important, he does recognize coverage, but different than (QB) Jared (Goff) and (QB) Sean (Mannion), we won’t ask him to exhaust a progression and get through and use all of his eligibles.”

(On if facing a team for the second time in a season is harder for the offense or the defense)

“I think it’s equal. I think because they’re such a good coaching staff and then we try to look critically at some of the things that we put out there, so you just have to really make sure that you’re very thorough with your preparation and some of the things that showed up in that game and trying to anticipate, but not guess on what are some of the things that they might do that fit within the framework of their structure that they’ll continue to do that they had some success with or something that they might look to change if we had success with something. It does involve a little bit sometimes of overthinking. I know I’ve been guilty of that in my past against division opponents, but it will be a great challenge and I think going on a road atmosphere, especially a place like Arizona where they’ve played so well, where they have such a great crowd, it always provides a unique challenge that we’ve got to be able to handle, specifically on offense.”

(On if he has been surprised by the contributions of this draft class this year)

“Yeah, I think it’s a credit to kind of targeting the right guys. I think (Rams General Manager) Les (Snead) and his staff and then our coaching staff being able to kind of say, ‘Yeah, we’re on the same page.’ And then those players’ development. I think what we looked for, really in all these guys are mature players that understand the game and then go about it the right way and that’s both a credit to some of the veterans we have as well. Specifically, when you talk about (OLB) Samson (Ebukam), unbelievable influence and kind of mentorship that Connor Barwin has provided for him. They’re working together after practice, before practice and really, Samson missed a lot of time where especially as a rookie – the OTAs (Organized Team Activities), he had a hamstring injury early in camp and I think he’s been able to stay ahead of the curve for missing the amount of reps because (Rams Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers) Coach (Joe) Barry has done such a great job with him, (Rams Assistant Linebackers) Coach (Chris) Shula and then also Connor’s mentorship and you see the athleticism and I know he’ll be excited about getting another opportunity or his first opportunity to start. We have got a lot of confidence in Samson. But, the draft class as a whole has been a pleasant surprise, a lot of guys that have contributed in a variety of ways and that’s always the goal and I think it’s worked out well for us so far.”

(On where the Ric Flair, ‘Woo’ thing came from)

“A lot of times with those, you don’t really think about, you’re just kind of excited and that was the reaction. It wasn’t really anything other than really happy for the guys, happy for our team to be able to get a big win and sometimes that’s when you just react, you don’t really think.”

OC Matt LaFleur

(On if there is anything they need to shore up on third-and-short situations)

“Yeah. There’s a lot of things (laughs). No, that’s a good question. Every week, we have a certain plan, especially when we’re running the ball – exactly how we want to attack a defense. I personally think it just comes down to execution. We haven’t always executed in those situations. You look at it in third-and-two to five, we’ve been I don’t know – it’s something like 18 of our last 19 or something like that. It’s been very successful. So that’s definitely a point of emphasis for us to clean up is that short yardage, especially when we’re running the football.”

(On what kind of flexibility it gives him to get RB Lance Dunbar and RB Malcolm Brown back for this game)

“I think first, it allows us to keep (RB) Todd (Gurley) fresh. We have a lot of confidence in both of those guys going in and being able to execute the same way that when Todd’s in the game. So yeah, it allows us to keep him a little more fresh so that when it gets down in the crunch time, he’s got a full head of steam behind him.”

(On how unique WR Cooper Kupp’s awareness is as a rookie)

“He’s not your typical rookie. It’s funny because a lot of times, after they’re done with the receiver meeting, he’ll come in the quarterback meeting and he’ll listen to us. The guy is just – he loves football, very intelligent player and we’re lucky to have him. He’s a really good player and I think he’s going to be a really good player for years to come.”

(On if he’s sure Kupp isn’t just coming into the quarterback meeting room because Kupp wants him to call more trick-pass plays)

“Well, you saw him throw the ball last week. It was a pretty good job at not making a bad play worse. You know what I mean? The intended receiver – they covered it and he threw it away. I’d like him to throw it out of bounds when you throw it away, but he did a good job making sure nobody was going to get that ball.”

(On what went into calling that trick play where Kupp threw the incomplete pass)

“I think the element of surprise sometimes. I guess you would have to ask (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) about it, because it kind of caught me a little bit off guard. But I think sometimes that’s the best time to call a play – when nobody is expecting it. Especially, on offense you have a pretty good idea of what’s going to be coming and you throw one of those trick plays out there. Trick plays are feast or famine, they’re either going to work or they’re not. What I liked about that play is, it wasn’t open, so worst case scenario, you’re throwing an incomplete pass and you line up and play – I can’t remember if that was a first down or second down, but you have another down to convert on third down.”

(On if running the no-huddle early in games is a tactic to put pressure on the defense early)

“Yeah. I think each week we kind of go in with our gameplan and that has been, as of late, that’s been something that we’ve wanted to do to really try to press the tempo and put the pressure on the defense.”

(On if he didn’t anticipate going no-huddle so frequently when he first arrived here)

“Yeah. I think we’ve always been a part of the offense and it has – it’s kind of picked up some steam because we feel like it’s been pretty successful with it. Now, within that, we can change the tempo. I mean, it’s not like you’re getting up there and you’re trying to snap the ball with 30 seconds on the clock or whatever. A lot of times we’ll run it down and just try to get the best plays called.”