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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay, General Manager Les Snead training camp press conference to discuss RB Todd Gurley extension

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Here’s what McBae & Lester had to say to the media with training camp set to begin in two days as news hit the media that the Rams were extending RB Todd Gurley on a megadeal.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay and GM Les Snead

(Opening remarks)

Snead: “We’ve got breaking news. We do plan to sign three wide receivers this afternoon. We haven’t totally agreed yet, but one of them is Aaron Lacombe, who played his college football at Cal Lutheran. Obviously, there’s other breaking news. I’m sure we’ll get to that. (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) will allude to that, with (RB) Todd (Gurley) agreeing. I do want to stress though, anything from this presser, this is one of our favorite times of the year because this is when we start gelling to become the 2018 Rams. It’s a fun time of year. It’s when all of us become, as Sean likes to say, ‘We’. It all starts right here and that’s why this is great to be back.”

McVay: “No, it’s exactly right, feel exactly the same way. Couldn’t be any more excited about getting going. Veterans will start reporting tonight and tomorrow. Like (General Manager) Les (Snead) mentioned, we were able to agree to an extension with Todd, and what a special player he is. I think last year’s production isn’t really a reflection of the value that he provides because he did such a great job, but he’s so much more than that to our team. The way that he competes in protection, the way that he works, and the way that rubs off on his teammates. It’s a great reflection of the job by Les, (Vice President, Football and Business Administration) Tony Pastoors, and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations/Chief Operating Officer) Kevin Demoff to be able to target a lot of these core guys. This doesn’t have any effect on some of the (DT) Aaron (Donald) things. I know that’s going to be a question, but these are things that these guys have done an excellent job of trying to have some foresight into the future and locking up some guys that we feel like have earned that and this is somebody that they invested in a while ago, and he’s done an excellent job and feel fortunate to be able to work with players like Todd. Happy for him that he earned this.”

(On if the timing of Gurley’s new contract was planned to be completed early in the season)

Snead: “The answer’s yes. We started talking with Todd and his representation, really, this spring. To get ahead of the curve, think ahead and like Sean mentioned, big part of who we are and where we’re going. It’s not only Todd, but a lot of other guys that we want to make Rams for a long time and be a part of the core that we’re building here.”

(On if Gurley and WR Brandin Cooks’ contracts will help create more clarity for DT Aaron Donald’s contract)

Snead: “I think you said it. Each situation is different, different players, different agents and all of that. You work on everything simultaneously, but you really don’t know when you’re going to get something done or not because it’s case by case.”

(On where the situation with Donald stands)

Snead: “We’re simultaneously working to make Aaron a Ram a long time - that’s the goal. I know we’ll get questions about him, but Aaron’s a big part of who we are, where we want to go. But I think the details and all of that, I think we’re going to continue the course of keeping them in-house. We’re going to continue working to get something done with Aaron.”

(On if Snead anticipates that Donald will show up to training camp at any point)

Snead: “I can’t answer that. Don’t want to get into the details, but I do know we still got time to get something done as well.”

(On what kind of calculations go into the signing of a running back like Todd Gurley and the perceived value of that particular position)

Snead: “I mean Todd was NFL Offensive Player of the Year. So, I think from the big picture standpoint, he’s a big weapon for us. In terms of the calculus, it does help when you lock up some of your core players and from there you have anchor points of what you do as we continue to build the Rams.”

(On how excited they are to sign Gurley and coaching the 2018 Rams)

McVay: “Yeah, really excited. I think the thing, too, just going in to year two there’s a comfort level of at least feeling like you know your players. Obviously, (WR) Brandin’s (Cooks) a newer addition, but getting to work with him through an entire offseason program. Really with offense, defense, special teams, we feel really good about the core group of leaders, veterans and then really, some younger players that we’re going to ask to continue to grow each and every day, and step into some of those leadership roles. But, it’s a great group of guys. Got a lot of high-character guys that love football and really couldn’t be more excited about working with this coaching staff and our players. We’re chomping at the bit to get going.”

(On if it’s safe to say that if something isn’t reached by Thursday that they would not expect Donald to be report)

Snead: “That might be unfair because I really don’t know. We’re going to continue trying to work to get something done and we’ll adjust from there.”

(On how they respond to fans who want Donald to be signed)

Snead: “Probably agree with the fans and that’s what we’re trying to do. But, I understand this day and age with social media and tweets and all that, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Definitely agree with the fans. We want to definitely try to pay Aaron what he’s deserved and make him a Ram a long time.”

(On if RB Todd Gurley’s game has evolved from last year)

McVay: “I think you can always – even as great of a player as Todd is – there’s always room for improvement. I think he’s mentioned it a couple times, extremely conscientious. I think it’s something as simple as understanding exactly what we’re trying to get done, how I can set up the blocks and the combinations. I think those rare backs do a great job of setting their blocks up, cutting on the heels of the linemen and really making the players around you even better. You could see even just with his understanding and continued mastery of what we’re trying to get done, whether it be some wide zone concept, some tight zone, whether he’s displaced from the core in the pass game. There’s always going to be things that we can continue to emphasize and improve on. Similar to what we talk about with (QB) Jared (Goff) as far as having an ownership of the offense in a very similar manner, I think Todd can do that. He demonstrated that there was improvement in the offseason. It’s always hard to evaluate the backs in terms of being consistent with the landmarks, pressing and setting up some of our combination blocks up front, understanding the intent of the play, if you will. That’s one of the things that I think we’ll emphasize. He’s mentioned it himself. Like we said, excited to get going with him and really happy for Todd as well.”

(On what he’s seen from WR Brandin Cooks to keep him for the long term)

McVay: “Well, I think it was a consistent thing with our organization. The first thing that you see is just the production. When you flip the tape on, you see the ability to win on short routes, you see the intermediates, good in the screen game. He had some jet sweeps and some touchdown rushes – well really, they were receptions because (Patriots QB Tom) Brady was flipping it to him last year – and obviously the deep threat with the consistent ability to track the ball down the field. For a guy that’s supposedly small, he plays big when the ball is in the air. Then when he came here, just the way he immediately fit into the culture, endeared himself to his teammates. The way he works consistently day in and day out. The type of character that you hear consistently talked about with him. He kind of just did everything the right way. In a lot of ways, I know people talk about, ‘Well he didn’t really play a snap yet and we already paid him,’ but I think what they did such a job of was we acquired him. He’s really in the last year of his deal and then the way that he played throughout the offseason program and kind of what he did. It was almost more similar to a free agent acquisition than anything else because you felt like he fit in perfectly with that receiver room, the way that it allows us to operate offensively. You really can’t say enough about what he’s done so far in this short time that we’ve been with him.”

(On his concern level with OG Jamon Brown’s situation and which players could help fill the void in his absence)

McVay: “Yeah, Jamon did a great job last year. Jamon, this was something that we’d kind of known for a while, and to Jamon’s credit, which you respect, he took full ownership and accountability for it. We know that he’s going to respond the right way, but I think it gives a great opportunity for some guys like an (C) Austin Blythe, who has demonstrated some flexibility inside – even (OT) Joe Noteboom. You kind of draft him as a tackle where he played at TCU, but he’s got that athleticism to play some interior spots. (C Brian) Allen and (OL Jamil) Demby, both. It’s going to provide a great opportunity. Coach (Aaron) Kromer does such a great job of really cross-training a lot of our guys and making sure that they understand, really, those interior three spots. Joe is kind of one of the rare players that does give you the flexibility to play some guard as well. But right now, if we had to play a game you feel really good about what Austin Blythe has done, but certainly there’s a lot of work to be done until we get to that game against Oakland.”

(On the expectations for this team)

Snead: “You know what, right now we get to practice one, keep evolving as a team. We evolved last year and that’s really all you focus on is practice one and continue doing what we did last year.”

(On the cohesion with the new players and personalities on the defense)

McVay: “Yeah, well it starts with getting to know these guys. We always talk about being a connected team, building and developing relationships. You’ve heard us say it over and over but we’ve been really pleased with both the corners and with (DT) Ndamukong (Suh) and the way that they’ve fit in so far. I think (Rams defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and our defensive coaching staff as a whole do a great job of understanding how can we connect with players and how we can find ways to accentuate their skill set. They’re great competitors. We’re excited about having them. What has been fun about it for me is, really, my first year in coaching with the (Tampa Bay) Bucs was when (CB) Aqib (Talib) was a first-round draft pick. Just watching the maturity, the growth, the way that he’s taken on a leadership role in the back end, especially having some familiarity and some history with Wade’s defense and how we want to operate. Then (CB) Marcus (Peters) has been extremely coachable. Unbelievable natural ability and talent. You’ve seen the production he’s had. Then Ndamukong’s consistency over his career kind of speaks for itself. But it’s all about building and developing relationships and that’s what we’re going to try to do to become a connected team and figure out how we can be the best unit on defense.”

(On how much of a distraction it would be to not have Donald present for training camp)

McVay: “I don’t think it’s going to be a distraction because, certainly like Les mentioned, we’re constantly working towards finding a solution to make Aaron a Ram for a long time. But in the meantime, we’ve got to do a great job of, ‘Life goes on, camp moves forward.’ We’ve got to do a great job of coaching the guys that are here, developing them and making sure that we’re putting our best foot forward one day at a time to be in the best position we can be when that Oakland Raiders game opens up for us on Monday night. It doesn’t take away from the respect and appreciation and how much we value Aaron, but we do have a lot of confidence in those guys’ ability to step up. You’ve seen (DT) Michael Brockers. I think he’s a guy who has kind of gone under the radar in terms of you add a great player like Ndamukong but what a great player Michael Brockers is as well. You get to see some of these younger players like a (DL) John Franklin (Myers) and (DT) Sebastian (Joseph) Day do some good stuff throughout the spring. (DL) Ethan Westbrooks has shown out really well. We’re excited about the guys that’ll be here and we’re not quite sure what the situation is going to be with Aaron until everybody fully reports.”

(On if the start of this training camp feelings different from the past years)

Snead: “I think we’re farther along in the process, the progression and the evolution of who we want to be. That’s a fact. Sean was still installing an offense this time last year. Now, he’s fine tuning it. So, we’re farther along in the process and we got to continue evolving.”

(On what he’s most excited about and if it’s different from last year’s training camp)

McVay: “The biggest thing is people talk about the expectations, different things like that. Our approach as a team and as a coaching staff doesn’t change. We still have the same core values, the same principles. We’re a little bit more familiar with the players having worked with them, and they’re a little bit more comfortable in the systems – offensively, defensively and with what (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) ‘Bones’ has done, there has been some continuity over the last handful of years. For us, our players have an appreciation that, ‘Hey, we have confidence in our players. But they also know and respect that there’s 31 other teams that are working hard. You have to wipe the slate clean.’ What we did last year, the caliber of players we have, won’t get us a first down, won’t get us a sack, a point and we have to earn it every single day. I think our players appreciate and respect the consistent grind that it takes to make sure that you do build the right way, one day at a time, in order to get to the places that you want to get. That was the way our guys worked this offseason. We have a confident team, but you like that, you like that confident swagger. But you also want to make sure that there’s a humility that exists where you understand you got to earn it every single day with how competitive this league is with great players and coaches.”

(On if he can give us a preview of the HBO Sports that is airing tonight)

McVay: “I don’t know. It was a lot of film for what will probably be an eight minute segment. So we’ll see, hopefully it turns out good.”

(On if there is anything he wants to see QB Jared Goff do stepping into year two of the offense)

McVay: “You know, can’t say it over and over again, and this will be something that will be consistent with what (Quarterbacks Coach) Zac Taylor is coaching him right now, and what we’ll consistently say really to that group as a whole. When we’re throwing the football it’s going to be about the decision, timing and accuracy. Consistently making those right decisions and understanding the intent of each play. I think the biggest thing that you appreciate is really as the season progressed, but even getting into spring, when we did some unscripted periods in a lot of ways he can anticipate some of the play calls coming in. When you talk about being connected with your coaches, being an extension of that coaching staff – that’s exactly what you talk about. There’s so many different things involved in the quarterback position. From the fundamentals, from understanding the mechanics of the run game, to some of the checks, the audibles, the different tempos and the way we want to utilize our cadence. I just think it’s that continued mastery and he’s done a great job of that. Like I’ve always said, he’ll be the first to tell you we have a lot of room to grow and we’re excited about doing that together.”

(On the excitement in Mexico about the Rams vs. Chiefs game and about QB Luis Perez)

McVay: “I think it’s a great opportunity for the NFL to go get some exposure to some great fans that get excited. You know that’s certainly a longs way away for us, but we’re excited for the opportunity to go play against the Chiefs there, when that game comes. With Luis, couldn’t really be more impressed with the person. He comes in, you hear a little bit about his background and just the way that he carries himself on a consistent day-to-day basis. A couple times he kind of pissed me off because be beat me into the office. He’s already in there studying tape (laughs). I’m like, ‘What the heck are you doing in here already man.’ But really impressive. He’s got a nice natural stroke too, really has a good feel for picking things up. You see the consistent work ethic, but really we’ve enjoyed being around him so far. He’s done a really nice job competing, and he’ll continue to get that opportunity throughout the course of camp.”

(On if they’re expecting full participation from a health perspective)

McVay: “Yes, there will be a couple guys that we have a specific programs with. As far as right now is concerned the only guys right now we anticipate starting on the (physically unable to perform) PUP list are (DT) Dominque Easley and (OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) ‘Obo.’ We’ll be smart. We expect to take Obo off it sometime based on (Senior Director of Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie and our medical staff’s ability to evaluate where he’s at. He is making good progress. Then, obviously with Dominque coming off the knee. Those guys are in a good place. We’ll be smart with some of those other players, but those are the only two that we anticipate starting on the PUP list.”

(On if there’s any concern about the triple digit heat)

McVay: “I didn’t know about the triple digit heat (laughs). No, but you know what’s nice is that I think we’ll always do a good job trying to be mindful of making sure guys are doing a great job with the hydration. (Head Team Dietician) Joey (Blake) our nutritionist and then really Reggie and his staff and (Director of Strength Training and Performance) Ted (Rath) do an excellent job of kind of putting those guys in position. We have a lot of different ways that we’re monitoring that to try to avoid any of the heat issues that could occur. We can only really practice once a day now too, so we should be alright.”

Snead: “No one ever mentioned triple digit heat in Southern California, maybe in the valley. We’re used to it.”