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Super Bowl LIII Diary: The time to focus is now

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Now the Rams can stop fussing with the media’s shenanigans and just focus on preparing for Sunday.

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-Los Angeles Rams Press Conference Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

One of the challenges for players during Super Bowl week is that everyone wants to talk to them about nonsense all the time. The good news for players today is that it marks the last media availability for both teams until after the Super Bowl.

We used our last bit of media availability wisely — by asking Rams players for their thoughts on the iconic rap video the Rams made in the mid-1980s, ‘Ram It’. Their reactions were classic, and as soon as the piece my colleague and partner in ‘Ram It’ enthusiasm James Dator put together goes live on SB Nation, I’ll share it with y’all.

I also took the opportunity to ask Aaron Donald while he was at the podium what the experience of practicing at the Falcons’ facility in Flowery Branch, Ga. has been like for the Rams. I live up that way, and I’ll be honest — it’s a haul. With no traffic, it’s about 40 minutes from downtown, but this is Atlanta. There’s always traffic. It took me an hour and a half to get to media availability today, if that gives you an idea of what the team is up against with that commute.

But Donald had a very positive view of the situation overall.

“It’s been good. It’s been great. It’s fine,” Donald said. “We were there one day — we were there yesterday. Great facility, everything’s set up perfectly. It feels like being at home. They’ve got pictures of the Rams all around there, so we feel at home. So we like the facility, and everything’s fine.”

McVay agreed.

“They’ve done a great job,” McVay said. “I really just think it’s been a first-class operation since we got here in Atlanta. They’ve made us feel very welcome. They’ve done an outstanding job of being great hosts. The facility was set up, and we really can’t ask for much more than that.”

It is a lovely facility, and I’m glad steps have been taken to make the Rams feel at home. Needless to say, I’m sure the Falcons are quietly pulling for the Rams this week. First the Rams earned their loyalty by beating the Saints, and now the Rams are up against the team that ruined our lives in Super Bowl LI. The Falcons should give them the warmest welcome possible.

Let me wrap this section up with my favorite moment from Rams media availability.

Speaking of practice ...

They don’t let everyone cover practice, but the Pro Football Writers of America (a wonderful organization, of which I am a proud member) coordinates a pool report from each practice. Wednesday’s practice went well.

McVay said during Thursday’s media availability that it was more “above the neck,” meaning the Rams wanted players to get their minds and focus in the right place, and that was a bigger priority than anything physical. But that’s actually not anything new. The Rams have had lighter practices on Wednesdays since after Week 4.

“Really where I got it from was just learning from our training staff as far as a sports-science approach, just being smart with our players,” McVay said, via Charean Williams, who compiled the pool report. “Earlier in the year, we end up practicing on Wednesdays and then depending upon where we are injury-wise or how our team is feeling, for us this year was after Week 4, we ended up tailoring our Wednesdays back. Guys have handled it really well. I think it’s been good from a performance standpoint. We’re able to get a lot of reps, but we don’t get as much physical work as you’d like, but that’s why the Thursdays and the Fridays are so important to us.”

And that focus was evident when Donald was at the podium.

McVay emphasized again on Thursday that the team will be fine-tuning the game plan and cleaning things up over Thursday and Friday so everyone is ready to go on Sunday.

The only players who were on Wednesday’s injury report were Blake Countess (foot) who was out, and Greg Zuerlein (left foot), who was limited.

Greg Zuerlein kicked a little bit, and he’s on track,” McVay said. “And I believe Blake will be good, but we want to be smart with him earlier this week.”

Tomorrow I won’t have any media availability updates, but we do have some fun things going on that I’ll be glad to share with you (like that whole ‘Ram It’ thing, which is going to be hilarious), as well as full reports from today’s Rams practice. In the meantime, share your questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.