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LA Rams’ OC Matt LaFleur Talks First Impressions, Great Effort, and the 2017 Draft Class

LaFleur has been very pleased with what he’s seen from Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. He’s impressed with the rookies, as well.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-Rookie Minicamp Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams’ rookie minicamp is now under way, providing fans with a glimpse of some long-awaited football, albeit without pads or contact.

But it’s an exciting time nonetheless, as Sean McVay and his new staff get to work. After practice on Friday, Rams’ new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur stuck around to field questions from the media. He covers a variety of topics from first impressions of Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, to what he’s seeing from the rookie class, to improving along the offensive line, and Tavon Austin being the team’s deep threat at receiver.

(On what he saw specifically at practice that he liked and he’s looking for from players that are trying to make the team)

“I think number one, great effort out there and I saw a lot of good things from our rookies – the guys that we drafted. It got us pretty excited about that.”

(On how it’s been for him transitioning into his role with the Rams and working with Head Coach Sean McVay)

“It’s been an awesome transition. Number one, we’ve got a great staff, a lot of good guys. Obviously, Sean and I have worked together before, so I think our philosophies align. It’s been a very good transition.”

(On his impressions of QB Jared Goff and the strides he’s made so far)

“Goff’s been awesome. He wants to be great and he’s doing everything that we’ve asked him to do and then some. He’s working hard every day. I think he’s getting better every day and he’s done a great job.”

(On what he means when he says, ‘Jared Goff wants to be great’)

“It means he’s doing the little things day in and day out. He’s coming in early. He’s staying late. He’s really grasped the offense surprisingly fast, especially for a new guy. When you get a new guy in an offense, there is a transition period with that, but he’s done a nice job at picking it up at a surprisingly quick pace.”

(On if there’s anything else that has surprised him while working with Goff)

“I’ll be honest with you, I think he’s a little more accurate than I anticipated, so that got me excited. Obviously, he’s got a big arm. Until you work with a guy you don’t really know. Obviously, I studied him coming out in the draft and knew that he had some of the characteristics that you look for. He’s a natural thrower. He’s tough and he’s throwing the ball with, like I said before, surprisingly with really good accuracy.”

(On his assessment of the team’s offensive line and what areas can they show improvement)

“Well, I think it’s always a work in progress, especially when you add a couple new pieces to the line. It takes time for them to gel as a unit, but (Offensive Line) Coach (Aaron) Kromer and the other guys have done a great job with that transition and those guys. You see improvement every day and it gets a little bit easier for them every day and obviously the goal is to get a little bit better each and every day as we move into OTAs.”

(On what made him look at OL Jake Eldrenkamp as a center and what about his skillset makes him think he can play center)

“Coach Kromer did more of the evaluation with the offensive line, but he’s got the movement skills that we look for in a center and he’s a big guy. He had very, very limited team reps today, but we’ll get a chance to look at the film afterwards and have a better assessment of him.”

(On what excites him about WR Cooper Kupp)

“I think the first thing you know about Cooper is he’s a pro and you can see that. He came in here not like most rookies do. He’s an extremely polished route runner, got great hands, is a precise route-runner. You can tell he works at his craft each and every day. He does a great job.”

(On Goff watching today’s rookie minicamp and what that means from a leadership standpoint)

“I think you said it, he’s really trying to take that step and be the leader that we need him to be. I think that encourages those young guys that are coming in. I love it when he’s around, the fact that he’s around today. If you go around the league, I don’t think you’re going to find too many teams where the starting quarterback is sitting here watching these rookies in their rookie minicamp. So, I know he’s excited about some of the pieces that we’ve added. I think it’s great for us as an organization.”

(On his first impressions of TE Gerald Everett)

“We got a chance to work him out so we felt like we knew him pretty well. Obviously, he’s got the movement skills that we’re looking for. He is extremely fluid. He can get in and out of breaks and the other thing that you notice from him, he’s got great hands. His catch transition, getting up the field is, what we felt, was as good as anyone in the draft.”

(On WR Josh Reynolds)

“Josh did some great things. I think today you saw in some of the 1-on-1s, you can see his range. He is a rangy target and quite frankly, he’s bigger than a lot of the other guys we have in our receiving corps. So I think he brings an element of, not only a big rangy target, but he did show some very good speed down the field. He caught a post and then he caught a ‘go-ball’ out there today, and so it was pretty encouraging to see him.”

(On his impressions of RB Todd Gurley and what he’s seen from him)

“You can tell why Todd was picked where he was picked. He is a big man that can run fast. What I’ve been most impressed with him is just how he’s approached it on a daily basis. He’s really come out here and worked his tail off…Obviously, you want your star players to set the tone for you and he’s done a great job with that.”

(On if he’s seen anything from WR Tavon Austin that indicates he could be a downfield threat)

“We only had him for a limited time before he had the surgery, but you could definitely see and feel his speed. When you look at what Washington was able to do and what Atlanta was able to do and the explosive plays, it all starts with having speed at that receiver position, which is something he possesses. Great guy, is attentive each day, so we’re excited to give him those opportunities.”

(On if Austin’s height could make it difficult to become a legitimate deep threat)

“I personally don’t think so because if you’ve got the speed to get open and you’ve got the separation skills to get open, he’s got great hands. When we judge receivers it’s more about their ability to separate. The size is not as big of a concern. I know last year in Atlanta, they used (Falcons WR) Taylor Gabriel and he’s not the tallest guy, but he could get open and he was electric with the ball in his hands. So hopefully we can get Tavon going the same way.”

(On transitioning working from a Matt Ryan in Atlanta to a young quarterback in Goff and if that requires him to make adjustments in the way he relays information)

“I think any time you’re dealing with a young quarterback, you never assume anything. What’s been so much fun for me is he is a sponge and he is soaking up everything that you tell him. It’s been a joy to work with him thus far, so hopefully we keep on chopping wood and get a little bit better every day.”