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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, GM Les Snead August 31 press conference

Here’s what McBae and Lester P. had to say after reducing the roster down to 53 yesterday.

NFL: AUG 29 Preseason - Rams at Texans Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

(Opening Remarks)

Snead: “Here we are. We’re just finishing the process – not quite done yet – of finalizing the initial start of our 2019 Rams-53(-man roster), 46(-man roster) and then 10 more (practice squad) players. We’re at the mercy of the waiver wire on that one, so here we are.”

(On only keeping three running backs and if that was to improve the depth at other positions)

Snead: “Yes. We’ve got a couple of things that could explain that a little bit later down the road. We’ll keep that in-house for right now.”

McVay: “I think you’ll get some clarity just because of some moves that we may or may not make. We think the world of (RB) John Kelly and what he’s done for this football team. That’s where when you start to get into the semantics – like (GM) Les (Snead) is talking about – your 53(-man roster) and then, you’re ultimately projecting for your 46(-man roster) – how can you do some of the stuff with your practice squad? What I’ve begun to learn over the last three years, especially, is there’s some nuances, there’s some layers and a lot of that is specific to not only opening week, but projecting, ‘How do you give looks? How do you balance out a lot of different things that you want to personnel-wise in a given gameplan?’ There’s a lot of factors in it, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that we think very highly of a good football player in John Kelly that we had to make a tough decision on.”

On what went into the decision to cut DL John Franklin-Myers)

McVay: “It was very difficult, and I think it’s more of a credit of not what (DL) John (Franklin-Myers) didn’t do, but what some other players did do. Again, a lot of those decisions do go back to, ‘What is the projected 46(-man roster) for guys that are actually going to be active? John is a guy that’s done a lot of good things – like you mentioned – and then that was a very difficult decision for Les, for myself, and really, for our organization. We’re very thankful for John and what he’s done and (he) couldn’t have handled it with more class and we’re appreciative of that.”

(On if Franklin-Myers being cut is a product of DE Morgan Fox being healthy and DT Tanzel Smart having a strong preseason)

McVay: “It is. Those guys (Fox and Smart) have done a great job and then there’s been some different spots – you look at some of the things that Les and his group like so much about (OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) ‘Obo’ coming out. You’ve gotten a chance to really see some of the things that he’s done, and that’s what is encouraging. But, that doesn’t take away from the appreciation that we have for John Franklin-Myers, the contribution that he had to our team last year. As you guys know, these things are never truly final. These are tough decisions that we have to make today, but there’s a lot of instances that end up changing the narrative and this doesn’t mean that there’s not going to be a point in time when John Franklin-Myers’ status changes with us.”

Snead: “It was interesting, too, that front-seven and I think we’ve talked to a couple of players about that today that, the last couple of years, especially, we’ve loaded up that front-seven, trying to find the right fits. That’s been a competitive, competitive area for us with a lot of young players that are – let’s call it – earning their keep every single day. It’s been tough on them in terms of the multiples, in terms of the amount of players that we put in those position rooms.”

(On how quickly LB Natrez Patrick made his presence felt)

Snead: “It’s an interesting story. I knew early in OTAs, before you put on pads, he (LB Natrez Patrick) was impressing (Special Teams Coordinator) John Fassel. Then, go back to high school, (he played) defensive end. With Georgia (he) played (inside linebacker) ILB, we brought him in as an ILB because of some injuries. Even though we were aware that he could rush the passer a little bit, we had talked about letting him get some reps. Because of those injuries, he goes and gets a shot rushing the passer. Then went to a Chargers practice and really flashed. The river of life that those things take sometimes are fortunate. He took advantage of every opportunity that he got, starting in OTAs with John Fassel.”

McVay: “A lot of the same. I think, talking to our coaches, Les and then (Director of College Scouting) Brad Holmes did a great job of identifying him. He was a guy that came in, maximized his opportunities. Really, when you look at when (DL) Justin Lawler got injured, that represented moving him to the outside linebacker spot. I thought (Outside Linebackers Coach) Chris Shula did a great job getting him up to speed quickly, as well as Natrez doing his thing himself and (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) ‘Bones’ has always valued him. When you start to get to those latter half of the discussions where a guy is a depth player on one side of the ball, John Fassel has done a great job and we feel like special teams is something that has to be an edge for us. Certainly, his opinion weighs heavily on a lot of these decisions that Les and myself end up (making) and really, as an organization we make. To his (Patrick’s) credit, he’s going to be big-time contributor for ‘Bones’.”

Snead: “That’s what’s interesting, right. For an OLB to be a big thumbs up for John (Fassel) on gameday. I know Sean mentioned Brad Holmes, but, to keep going on the narrative, we didn’t sign him (Patrick) right after the draft. But Brad lives in Atlanta, scouts Georgia heavily, kind of grew up with him in that area in high school, saw his career at (University of) Georgia, knew he had some pass-rush skills. He was still available, we still had a spot, Brad comes to us late on Saturday night and says, ‘If we’re going to use that spot, I’d love to give this kid a shot.’”

(On if they have addressed Patrick’s off the field issues with him and if they are confident they won’t arise moving forward)

Snead: “Ultimately, going back to the Brad Holmes story, we do a lot of research on those kids. To bring one in, you go, ‘Okay, at the end of the day, thumbs up or thumbs down?’ Similar to (LB)Dakota Allen and things like that, based on everything we collected and who the human being was after those instances, we felt comfortable doing it.”

(On the decision to cut LB Dakota Allen)

McVay: “A lot of those decisions end up being a result of the big picture perspective with how they can contribute on teams. Some of those things, think you can’t argue with what he did this preseason. Did a great job of putting a lot of good stuff on tape, he’s a player that’s ascended. It was tough for him initially because he missed the whole offseason program as a result of an injury that he suffered. But, I thought to his credit, he responded the right way. He maximized his chances and again, a lot of these decisions are more a result of other guys kind of earning it, not necessarily one guy not doing what he can to show that he’s an NFL-caliber player. I think we’re talking about a lot of guys which is a credit to Les, his group, our organization for having a competitive roster where you’re unfortunately having to let guys go that you feel like are NFL-caliber players. A lot of it ends up coming down to numbers, how we ultimately figure out our offense, defense and special teams. Not exclusive to the 53, but we keep going back to that 46 as well and those decisions come into play there.”

Snead: “I think that’s what we always start with, the trying to project the 46 before you figure out the 47 through 53. Then before you try to attempt to figure out 54 through 63. It’s amazing sitting with the coaching staff and each role and contributors and ‘If this guy goes down, who’s up? Who’s playing the sub positions?’ Ultimately, (Special Teams Coordinator) John (Fassel) has a big say in the back end, those guys that are depth players, are they going to help him in those four phases of the game that are very important?”

(On the decisions for the cornerback position)

Snead: “It’s probably as deep a cornerback room as I’ve ever been a part of. Sometimes that can be subjective. We’re the Rams and we like our corners, but (CB) Kevin Peterson’s had interceptions in real NFL games. (CB) Dominique Hatfield tried out one day and has played a lot of snaps for Coach Fassel, so that was a very, very tough room.”

McVay: “It’s the same. You guys have said it all along, that’s been a position that we’ve talked about. These guys have come out and they’ve made a lot of plays. A lot of times, sometimes what you’re having to do and what Les and I have talked about a lot over the last couple of days is you’re final 53 isn’t always an indicator of who you deem the best 53 football players. So, I think that’s a credit to, again, you go back to (Cornerbacks) Coach (Aubrey) Pleasant and (Safeties) Coach (Ejiro) Evero and their ability to help guys develop. Our veterans and the influence that they have on those guys. I think it’s a situation where, again, you’re talking about letting guys go that are not making your final 53 that will probably have a chance of being somewhere else and that we believe are NFL-caliber players.”

(On how he utilizes the inside linebacker’s position with three players on the roster and using safeties in that position as well)

McVay: “It is and we’ll have four. We have four on there when you take into account (LB) Cory (Littleton), (LB) Bryce Hager, you got (LB) T. (Travin) Howard and then you also have (LB) Troy Reeder.”

(On what was about LB Troy Reeder)

McVay: “In a lot of the same reasons why you say you speak so highly of (LB) Dakota Allen. We felt like he played really well and then he’s also done an outstanding job creating and carving out a role for himself on special teams.”

(On what is different about this year’s roster compared to last years)

Snead: “Here’s the similarity which is nice from last year. We did a lot of moves last year and a lot of those players are still here. Now, they’re over 400 days in the system, per say, so they’re only going to continue to get better. What I like about this roster is a nice mix of veteran players that may be on their third, fourth contracts, but have a lot of wisdom, experience and want to be a part of something special. You got a lot of guys in their prime and a lot of guys that are young, that are going to help us in areas and you never know when. (DT) Sebastian Joseph(-Day) was inactive most of last year, this year he’s going to start in our base. That’s the similarities, but the names can be different. The nice thing is there’s going to be a lot of continuity. The difference is probably some of the guys in that younger category changing a little bit.”

(On his reaction to the news of the Seattle Seahawks trading for DE Jadeveon Clowney)

McVay: “They just acquired a really good football player. When we played against him a couple of years ago, he was a huge difference maker. He’s been that consistently year-in and year-out and it’s going to be a tough player that we play against twice a year.”

(On an update on QB Brandon Allen and QB John Wolford and if they will come back on the practice team)

McVay: “Yes. I think in a lot of the same ways that Les talked about, the thing that stands out when we’ve talked over the last couple days, especially, is the continuity that we have over the last three years now where there’s a vision for every player. I think there’s some clarity that exists in terms of the types of players that we want to on board. This all starts with really, the leadership that we have in that locker room with our players. When you can have a better feel for them, when you can have an idea of, ‘Alright, how are we adjusting and adapting our systems specific to these types of players we’re bringing in?’ There’s clarity that can exist with a lot of the tough decisions. It doesn’t mean that it makes them any easier, but when you have a vision and a role that’s carved out as opposed to, and I’ve heard Les say this before, we’re trying to build a team not just collect talent. You want talented players that are a part of that team and I think we’re moving towards that. I think you feel more comfortable based on the continuity we have and then the players that we’ve been able to, whether be draft or acquired free agency. There’s a vision and there’s a role that you can see these guys fulfilling that if they do what we expect them to do, you feel really good about that. As far as the practice squad is concerned, both guys that are very capable NFL players, I thought they did a nice job in the preseason games. A lot of that evaluation is also what goes on out here during practice sessions. Whether that be against each other or in some of the settings where we’re going against those other teams with the Chargers and the Raiders. But, at the end of the day (QB) Brandon (Allen) has been a big-time guy around here the last couple of years. He’s been a joy to be around, but if that’s something that presents itself, those guys will go through the wire. I think (QB) John (Wolford) has played really good football and then when we get to that practice squad tomorrow, I think we’ll have a little bit better idea. But, those guys have to go through waivers first and then we’ll get to that next step. Both guys are really capable and players that we have a lot of confidence in.”

(On if WR Nsimba Webster took advantage of his opportunities to make the roster)

Snead: “Definitely, we all see that right? You’re sitting in the press box and you’re going ‘Woah, wait, who is (jersey number) 14? Who’s this (WR) Nsimba (Webster) kid? The nice thing, going back is you talk through it - has return skills. Also, a receiver that has ability to cover for (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) Bones. When ‘Bones’ is fighting for a guy, not necessarily just for return, but for return and coverage skills, That’s just a bonus. That’s versatility, that’s a player with a lot of tools in his tool box. As (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) just said, ‘You have a vision for if he continues to evolve, for his future and what he can do for this team.’”

McVay: “I think he represents the epitome of a guy that truly earned a spot, based on the way that he went and did his thing in the preseason games, too. He didn’t really have as many opportunities the way that we set up practice, in a lot of these settings where a lot of our guys that are the projected starters – and things of that nature, are getting the reps. He’s a guy that just jumped out at you no matter what it was. Whether it was on teams, whether it was getting opportunities, competing without the ball, getting his targets in the pass game, you can just feel the moment’s not to big for him. He truly earned his spot based on, really, the way that he played in the preseason, gained a lot of the confidence of the coaches and just demonstrated his versatility. When you talk about it, that guy is just a good football player. I think he’s one of those guys that you’re talking about, when you’re talking about (WR) Nsimba (Webster).”

Snead: “We were just in the hallway there, we call it our CFA (College Free Agent) Committee, when our scouts work with our coaches. Scouts who are part of that committee they were going because of how deep we are at receiver, they were laughing and going, ‘We would of never bet that one of our college free-agent wide receivers would of made the football team just based on how deep we were at that position.’ As (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) said, ‘it’s (Eastern Washington) they come in and earn it.’ They did inform me that we had three CFAs make it today. I know Mr. (LB)(Troy) Reader, Mr. (Nsimba) Webster, Mr. (LB Natrez) Patrick.”

(On if there is a timetable for DL Justin Lawler to come back and if he is on the roster)

McVay: “Yes he is on the roster.”

Snead: “There is. We are going to sit with (Senior Director of Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) this afternoon, in the next 24 hours and then determine what’s the best course of action with (DL) Justin (Lawler), in terms of when. He’s a guy who’s contributed for us last year, real versatile. Again, someone that helps Coach Fassel so, we defiantly wanted to keep him as insurance. Again, that front-seven was a very, very competitive front seven.”

(On what’s going on with negotiations on QB Jared Goff on a new contract)

Snead: “I think the update is probably similar to the endless (DT) Aaron Donald updates. Jared is somebody we want to be the Rams quarterback for a long time.”

(On if he’s in the ballpark of finalizing a contract deal)

Snead: “We are in the same state (Laughs).” Again, I think out of respect for (QB) Jared (Goff) and his group, I don’t want to make it public on those things. I do know this, Jared wants to be a Ram for a long time, we want him to be a Ram for a long time and we will continuously try to work to make that happen.”