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Five Things To Watch For In 2017 LA Rams OTAs

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Here are five things to keep an eye or ear (or both) out for as we head through the final phase of the offseason.

Los Angeles Rams QB Coach Greg Olson and QB Jared Goff
Los Angeles Rams QB Coach Greg Olson and QB Jared Goff
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Rams held their second organized team activity of Phase III of the 2017 offseason. With today off, the Rams have eight more allowable practices per the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement. They’re currently scheduled for May 25, May 30-31, June 2 and June 5-8.

Here are five things to track over the next two weeks.

Jared Goff

The early returns for the Sean McVay era will likely depend largely on the Rams’ franchise QB. A year ago prior to McVay’s hiring, the Rams traded up to take Goff #1 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. A year later with an 0-7 record and horrible statistical output to his name, Rams fans are clamoring to justify pinning that failure on former Head Coach Jeff Fisher.

This is sure to be filled with 99% empty language. He’s feeling comfortable! The offense is easier! CHEMISTRY!!! It doesn’t take much effort to go back and see that the same things are said every year regardless of who’s manning the position.

Here’s the chemistry nod from 2016. And two years ago. And three years ago.

Don’t sweat the spin. Soak up the tangibles. What specifically is Goff doing? What is he being asked to do? How are his teammates and coaches responding? That’s what matters. If we get any real word on that front, that will likely be the most important pull-away from OTAs.

Offensive Line Personnel

The offensive line is undergoing a remake after being locked in a year ago. The only starter from a year ago in the same spot is LG Rodger Saffold. LT Andrew Whitworth and C John Sullivan are first-year Rams. RG Rob Havenstein and RT Greg Robinson are at new positions.

That’s as of today. The chances that group remains in place through the rest of the offseason, training camp and preseason unchanged is less than 100%.

So I’ll be interested to see if we get any reports of any switches. For example, who’s the backup at LT? Do they get any reps with the rest of the first-team line in case of an injury to Whitworth? Does GRob get any reps elsewhere on the line should the RT experiment fail? Whither Jamon Brown, Cody Wichmann and Andrew Donnal? And what of the lower reaches of the depth chart?

I could see something coming out of OTAs that seems more sensational about this group than it is and requiring McVay to walk things back. That being said, it would likely seem sensational only because this group is far from reliable as a unit...and with Jared Goff heading into his first Week 1 start of his career a season after he took a pounding in his seven games, I’d think the coaching staff will be more than willing to tinker with this group to try to find the point of maximum reliability throughout the summer.

Wide Receiver Personnel

Robert Woods? Check. Cooper Kupp? Check. Tavon Austin? I guess check. Everybody else? WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Who knows how this rotation is going to work three months from now. Between last year’s rookies and this year’s, there’s just a ton of competition. Last year, Nelson Spruce emerged a fan favorite...off of a single game. The door’s open for a similar bandwagon to develop this year. The early signals of as much could come over the next few practices.

Expect more of this kind of thing:

And expect it to have more of an impact.

Wade Phillips Begins

“I thought he was going to be kind of a hard (personality),” linebacker Samson Ebukam said Friday. “Because he’s an old dude; you know what I’m saying? He’s an old dude, and I thought he was going to be one of those hard-ass dudes, who was like, ‘Do this, do this, do this.’ But he’s chill. He’s just right there trying to get you better, and that’s what I like about him. He’s just trying to get us better.”

The Son of Bum is being given free rein to take over the defense and produce what Gregg Williams could not as defensive coordinator: a top-five defense.

With DT Aaron Donald sitting out OTAs as the Rams work on a contract extension (YOU BETTER BE PRAYING ALL THE PRAYERS, FAM), Phillips is without his talisman to begin putting things together. Not a huge deal.

He’s got tons of personnel to work through and system installation to get into. Donald’s absence is the least of his worries. Setting up an effective linebacking corps and consistent secondary tops things.

And...Injuries

It’s the angle with the most impact. And there’s nothing you can really do about it.

Let’s hope we continue our run of fortune on this front.