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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, DC Wade Phillips, DL Aaron Donald August 2 press conference

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Here’s what the trio had to say yesterday.

Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald during organized team activities at Cal Lutheran University, May 20, 2019.
Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald during organized team activities at Cal Lutheran University, May 20, 2019.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On if anything jumped out at him after watching the tape from Thursday’s practice with the Los Angeles Chargers)

“I thought it was kind of like what we felt like. There was some good stuff, there was some stuff we can’t do to beat ourselves. But any time you go up against a really good team like that, I think you can expect a good back-and-forth competitive balance. Really, what was good for us is going against two different systems offensively, defensively and then really for some of our punt and punt return units, to get some different work. I thought it was really beneficial to see a really good team and we’re looking forward to competing against them tomorrow, too.”

(On what he looks for on tape when there isn’t tackling and full speed involved)

“I think, really, it depends on which position you’re specifically talking about. But you want to try and play things as true as possible. Where you say, ‘Okay, if this collision occurred and we don’t break a tackle, this is what it would be.’ You try to get the quarterbacks to play the real timing and rhythm of what the rush indicates. That’s where it’s a good challenge and you want to try to make sure that we’re being critical of ourselves and realistic, because there were some things yesterday that maybe you feel like it’s a good play and you go back and say, ‘If that’s a real game, maybe it isn’t as good of a play as we thought.’ It stresses our communication. I think especially for our defense, getting a chance to go against a Hall of Fame quarterback (Chargers QB Philip Rivers) and his command – and they’ve got some great players on their offense. And then really, for our offense, going against a defense with some big-time players on really all three levels and a great system on both sides by (Chargers Defensive Coordinator) Coach (Gus) Bradley and (Chargers Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Ken) Whisenhunt. And (Chargers Head) Coach (Anthony) Lynn does a great job managing it all.”

(On if he has seen enough from his young players in terms of their production as the team gets closer to games)

“That’s something that we’re going to continue to evaluate. We talked about that before we practice. I think, really, a lot of that is going to be predicated on how we evaluate the way that tomorrow’s practice and the two practices against the Raiders go. I think you want to get those guys some work but you want to be smart in a lot of instances like we’ve talked about. Those four practices – especially for the veteran guys – represent the closest thing that we can create to a game-like situation. If we feel like they’ve gotten enough work, that might be something, but (Run Game Coordinator) Coach (Aaron) Kromer and I and the offensive staff, we talked about that and that might be something that we’re going to revisit after those practices.”

(On if he’s talked to Coach Lynn and Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden about how he wants those practices to go)

“Absolutely. That’s a big part of it and I thought it was a real credit to the Chargers yesterday for us to be able to both get a lot of work in and really understand the intent of what we were trying to get done from the practice setting. There wasn’t anything that took away from both teams’ abilities to get better and to get really a lot of work. That’s what it’s about. I think we’ve had some situations where it became a distraction, where some fights occurred and we’re very optimistic and hopeful that tomorrow will be a lot of the same as what it was on Thursday and we’re hoping for the same against the Raiders.”

(On if there are any injuries from practice)

“There’s really not. I think, more than anything, it’s more preventative maintenance. (WR) Brandin (Cooks) is feeling good. He didn’t do anything, he just kind of felt a little tightness in his hamstring. We expect him to be good to go tomorrow. (WR) Cooper (Kupp) is going to be able to practice. I think more than anything, we wanted to be able to see what that practice setting looked like, what was the tempo and was it something that we felt good about putting him in that atmosphere, because you forget that was only our fifth practice. He’s looked outstanding, but you’re still coming off a major injury. We’ve been relatively healthy so far and again, it’s a credit to our players, our training staff and we’re hopeful to keep it that way.”

(On DT Tanzel Smart)

“He’s done a nice job. (Defensive Line) Coach (Eric) Henderson did an excellent job rotating a lot of guys in that front, especially with some of our top groups and (DT) Tanzel (Smart) showed up. He’s stout playing the three technique. We talk about those techniques, those fundamentals all the time and Tanzel’s a reliable player. You look at even going back to his career at Tulane, how reliable he was. And then, coming in as a rookie and just a steady guy that has a nice demeanor and I thought he did a lot of really good things yesterday in the opportunities that he did have.”

(On the offensive line and uncertainty going into the season because of new faces)

“They have done a good job. I think any time we’ve had such continuity up front for the last couple of years. So, when you have two, second year players that are projected to start for us, that’s always going to be something that people look at. This was kind of part of the design, again you can’t say it enough Aaron Kromer has done a great job. Really, helping those two take steps in the right direction. I think (T) Joe (Noteboom) and (C) Brian (Allen) are mature, young players. They’ve gotten a lot of really good work going back to last year. Now looking into the offseason and building in to training camp. We’re optimistic, we know there’s a long, long way to go. But, I think with the three players that they do have that have played a lot of football with (OL) Austin (Blythe) and (T) Andrew (Whitworth) and (T) Rob (Havenstein) at the tackles, they’re in good shape. It’s definitely something that we can’t ever allow the complacency to set in. Those guys have a long way to go but they’re in a good place right now. We’re very confident in them.”

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips

(On looking a little more slim)

“Somebody told me the other day, he said, ‘Hey, you lost some lbs. (pounds), huh?’. I said, ‘We didn’t lose any linebackers, did we?’ (laughs).”

(On if he’d play safety or linebacker)

“I’m way deep safety (laughs). I’m way behind everybody.”

(On if he was attempting to get in shape for the upcoming season)

“Every year I think you do the same thing and then during the season you get nervous and start eating.”

(On the open spots in his defense)

“It’s going well. I think everything is progressing well overall. We had a scrimmage yesterday, which, I think was really good for us. I told all our guys I felt like in the scrimmage they did a lot of really good things. There were a couple things they could do better. I can’t say enough superlatives about (DT) Aaron Donald. And he’s got some things he could work on, too. And he knows that. He made some plays where he’s standing – they’re handing off the ball in the backfield and he’s standing right in front of the guy and there’s two guys supposed to block him. I think the neatest thing is his peers rating him the best player in the league. I think that shows you. I think the coaches all vote the same way. Certainly, I would. He’s an amazing talent and he works hard at it and it’s great to have him in camp.”

(On having Donald in camp this season)

“He has a great attitude all the time. We missed that because he wasn’t with us at training camp the last couple of years. In the offseason he works. He was with us in OTAs and he looked great. He’s got a great attitude. Besides being a great player, he’s a great person.”

(On the nose tackle position)

“I thought our defensive line played well overall. Of course, you’ve got Aaron in there but ‘Brock’ (DL Michael Brockers) played well yesterday and the two guys you mentioned - (DT) Sebastian (Joseph-Day) and (DT Greg) Gaines – both did a good job yesterday. I was pleased overall. We had a lot of good rush by all our guys as far as pass rush is concerned. They’re (the Los Angeles Chargers) certainly a good team and (Chargers QB) Philip Rivers gets rid of the football, so I thought we got a lot of pressure and some would have been sacks, so it was pretty good.”

(On if Joseph-Day is making a push to start)

“Oh yeah. He’s been really solid. He’s very strong and a very powerful guy. He’s got size and he’s working hard at it. I think all our guys are working hard but I think he’s seeing the opportunity and has seized it. I’m pleased with where he is, too.”

(On LB Clay Matthews)

“(LB) Clay (Matthews) is a really good football player. He showed yesterday, again, he had a couple tackles for loss. Our SAM linebacker position really fits him well. We’ve had some good one’s there and out here and I’ve had some good one’s in the past. He’s some of the real good one’s I’ve had. He can cover, but his strength is his pass rush and his run play. He’s an outstanding run player.”

(On how the linebacker corps looks so far)

“I mean yesterday, again, it’s not full game but our run play I thought was real good. They ran a lot of plays teams had run against us last year that had been successful, and they weren’t. That was a good sign, and they have a good offensive line, I like to say they have a good offense, they have a top five offense, so we did some good things, we can do some better.”

(On if he’s seen RB Todd Gurley II having praise for OLB Dante Fowler Jr.)

“Oh yeah, obviously he made a difference when he came in last year. You know, everybody talks about how the run defense and all that, but you look in the playoffs and see what happen, I mean Dallas averaged 2.3 (yards per carry), New Orleans averaged 2.3 (yards per carry) and neither one of them made 50-yards rushing, so with him in there I think it strengthened certainly not only our pass rush, but our run game.”

(On what S Eric Weddle has brought to the secondary as a player and personality)

“He has a personality, (S) Eric Weddle is a personality. You can tell by looking at him or talking to him. Obviously he’s a really smart guy, smarter than I am, I know. He anticipates so much and helps other players so much by helping them anticipate by saying ‘Hey watch for this, do this, this might be coming.’ Those kinds of things that you don’t see, so he’s doing that. He has some great suggestions about things. He will come to us about things and say ‘Why don’t we do this or that?’ And we say, ‘Yeah let’s do that.’ That’s the way he is, he’s thinking football all the time and he’s got a real sharp mind, football IQ.”

(On Matthews and Donald thinking they still have anything to prove as veterans)

“If they feel that way, I hope so. They are both really good players and have been. You know, you get a little older, you want to prove things, I can see that (laughs).”

(On if LB Micah Kiser is getting a lot of looks at the inside spot)

“He’s a big MIKE linebacker that you’d like to have. Again, he’s young, but has done a lot of really good things. He did well last year in preseason and we felt like he’s got a good future and he stepped up.”

(On if he feels like he has all the pieces in place to run the defense he wants to run)

“We will see. Like everybody, we have high hopes and high standards right now. To play a 3-4 (defense) you have to have really good outside backers. I think we seal that now with Clay Matthews. I think the secondary is a really key situation. We got secondary players that can play, so I look for good things. We have the highest standards, I can tell you that.”

(On how S Taylor Rapp is progressing)

“I think he and all our rookies, our young players are progressing well. They still got a ways to go but we’ve got time and they will get a lot of play in the preseason.”

(On CB Marcus Peters and how he’s progressing)

“I think it was more us than him progressing last year. I said during the season, I put him in situations we shouldn’t have. Now, we got him playing with more help in some situations, so he can take more chances. He knows when to and when not to. He’s a really good athlete – he came in really good shape and he’s ready to go.”

DT Aaron Donald

(On how he feels about yesterday’s practice)

“It went good. We got a lot of good things on film. Obviously, we saw things we need to clean up, but that’s normal, it’s camp. Feels good to compete against somebody else and work against them guys. Got good work, so I think it was a good day.”

(On being voted the top player in NFL’s Top-100)

“It’s pretty good. It’s a good feeling any time your peers think of you that highly. That’s the No. 1 football player in the whole national football league, it’s surreal. It just shows the body of work I-put into the game and all the things you do behind the scenes, when nobody’s watching, showing that all that hard work pays off. It’s been a good ride thus far, but like I said, I got room for improvement for myself. I’m just trying to get myself better.”

(On if the defense talks to him in practice about how disruptive he is)

“No, we’re just out there working. I’m just trying to do my job, I’m trying to find ways to keep working my technique. At the same time, find ways to get in the backfield to make plays, so that come game time, we can translate it and I do that come game time. So, we’re just working and trying to get better.”

(On if he has embraced and enjoyed training camp)

“I’m just here working. I ain’t been here in two years, so it’s just good to be back in the grind with the guys. This is what I missed the most, was just going out, that relationship, that grind, that process from the beginning with the guys. This is where it all starts, this is where it all starts. To be here now and grinding and getting in football shape now, and not having to do it a week before the game, it ain’t going to do nothing but make me that much better. It’s definitely good to be here now.”

(On if is the single-season sack record is something he thinks of)

“I just play. If it happens, it happens. Obviously, you want to have success, so I get how it goes just to have success and keep getting better each year. Main goal is trying to get a ring. That’s the main thing is trying to get back to the Super Bowl and being world champions. So, we just got to keep working, I got to keep working and trying to do my part.”

(On his feelings about traveling to different places for training camp)

“It’s different, but I think it’s good. I kind of like having an opportunity to practice against different teams and things like that. You get tired of practicing against the same guys every day, so having the opportunity to compete against different guys. All offense is going to amp up a little bit more. It won’t do anything but make us that much better. I think it’s good and we’ve been getting good work thus far.”

(On what it’s like going against Chargers QB Philip Rivers)

“It’s good. He’s making great reads and seeing things, so it helps us as well on the defensive side. Not showing too much, because if you show too much, for a great quarterback, they’ll pick you apart. It’s just an opportunity for us to get better.”

(On how Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has evolved)

“(Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) is Wade. Obviously, he’s trying to find ways to put guys and positions that have success and where they’re more comfortable at, that’s the most important thing. When you’ve got a great defensive coordinator like Wade, he puts his guys in great positions to have success. If he’s got to tweak a couple things here and there for a guy to be that much better, he’ll do it. When you’ve got a great coach like that that knows how to put his guys in great positions to have success, all you’ve got to do is go out there and play.”