Tuesday was the conclusion of Los Angeles Rams training camp in Irvine and Turf Show Times had both Kenneth Arthur and Blane Dydasco in Irvine to watch the action from different angles and with unique points of view. The highlights include some of the regulars like Tyler Higbee and Cooper Kupp, but also some lower profile players like Ernest Jones and Dont’e Deayon.
Here are observations from Blane Dydasco at Tuesday’s practice:
- OL Brian Allen was taking snaps at the center position from warm ups to 11 on 11s with the starters and Matthew Stafford. Austin Corbett was at guard. Following practice, Sean McVay confirmed that Allen is in the lead to start at center if the Rams had to play a regular season game tomorrow.
- John Wolford was present on the field with the QBs but not actively participating.
One on Ones: WR and DBs
- On one play, Cooper Kupp beat CB David Long Jr. deep.
- J.J. Koski had a good session with a couple of catches, one of them on deep route.
Eleven on Elevens
- LB Ernest Jones had an interception over the middle against the twos. Jones stayed on his feet and took momentum towards the opposite end zone. Might have been a touchdown in a game but maybe not, rookie WR Tutu Atwell caught up to him.
- During red zone drills Matthew Stafford found TE Tyler Higbee on a quick out for a touchdown.
- CB Dont’e Deayon made a nice pass break up in the flat against the starters.
- TE Jacob Harris caught a nice end zone fade in which he showed great ability to high point the ball over a defender.
- One play that seemed to pop was during the 2 minute drill. In a tight bunch formation to the left was DeSean Jackson, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods. With the use of tempo and with all eyes on the trio, Xavier Jones popped out of the backfield to the right and catches the ball with the nearest defender maybe 15 yards away. In a game time situation, should Jones abide the ‘make at least one miss’ rule ... touchdown.
And here are some observations from Kenneth Arthur at Tuesday’s practice:
Blane did a great job of breaking down some of the key plays at practice. My thoughts may end up being a bit more abstract and way too long.
- The offensive and defensive linemen were indeed wearing the ‘soft shell’ helmets over their regular helmets, as you’re starting to see more and more teams implement that as another strategy to reduce head injuries.
- My impression of Raheem Morris, as I was watching him talk to the defensive linemen and linebackers, is that he will bring a similar positive energy to the team to what Brandon Staley provided last season. I’m not an Xs and Os guy really, but I am an “infectious smile” guy and Morris has one of those.
- One of the first plays I saw on the day was a pass breakup by David Long, Jr.
- For some reason Tyler Higbee doesn’t always appear big on television, but truly he is 6’6 and over 250 lbs. He could be slightly bigger than Travis Kelce. Without a clear number two tight end, Higbee has an opportunity for more opportunities and he looked good for the most part on Tuesday.
- You know who’s actually kind of not bad? Devlin Hodges. His arm is better than most people realize. He can make some of the fancy throws that highlight clippers like too. He had a few really impressive completions on Tuesday and while there is a lot more to quarterbacking than just having a great arm, Hodges might be three good preseason games away from surprising everybody about the backup job.
- On the first Darrell Henderson carry that I saw, he fumbled the ball. It’s just one play but I figure that is notable.
- Practice runs are much different than game runs, so take that into consideration when I say that no running back necessarily stood out. I think that truly Jake Funk, Xavier Jones, and Raymond Calais might as well be even right now and Sean McVay will let the preseason games and the next four weeks of practices decide the order. I did write down “Jake Funk good run” one time, so there’s that. I don’t necessarily think the first running back depth chart matters and I would say Funk seemed like the number two option on Tuesday.
- I assume the Rams are just waiting until the right veteran running back comes available. Will they really enter the season with Henderson as the only back who has played an NFL snap? One role that LA might really need to replace is actually Malcolm Brown, not Cam Akers. Henderson may not be the best choice for third down and goal line runs, it has not been his strength in the past. You know who seems to not struggle with goal line runs, even when all else has gone wrong?
- The Rams have five wide receivers who are locks to make the roster, making it even more interesting that J.J. Koski is starting to emerge as a player who could demand his opportunity to make the final 53. Koski went undrafted out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2020 and that means that he was one of the unfortunate rookies who never really got the chance to showcase what they could to do make a roster last year. But then Koski overcame the odds to make LA’s practice squad and on Saturday he will get to appear in his first NFL game. Two years ago, Koski was a big play threat for SLO, catching 42 passes for 868 yards and eight touchdowns. He also has punt and kick returning experience and certainly special teams ability of any kind is valuable if you’re going to sneak onto the end of a roster.
#TouchdownTuesday Jake Jeffrey connected with JJ Koski on this 43-yard TD last season against Sac State! It was one of Koski's team-leading 8 touchdown receptions last year! #RideHigh | #RideTogether pic.twitter.com/V2I24XCgNy— Cal Poly Football (@calpolyfootball) October 13, 2020
- Safety Brontae Harris dropped an interception.
- Ernest Jones intercepted Bryce Perkins. Ernest Jones also had a nice pass breakup on a target for Higbee. It’s got to feel good to have a great day of training camp in your rookie season right before a game. Just stop reading this for a moment and think about that feeling and then get all warm inside, emotionally speaking...... Welcome back, there’s a preseason game in a few days.
- Dont’e Deayon is having a special camp. He energizes the entire defense. He’s making plays. I don’t know if he is considered a liability in coverage because of his size, but I do know that time after time, my eyes have been locked on “#21” because he continues to stop receptions from happening aka the goal of a cornerback. This is Deayon’s sixth attempt at making an NFL roster. That in itself is an amazing accomplishment. Many guys who are lucky to get one chance, will never see two. I’m sure that Deayon has to prove himself in the next three preseason games because that third cornerback spot is going to be so important to fill this year, but it’s starting to teeter on “travesty” territory if he gets cut this year.
- I did see Matthew Stafford have one overthrow on what could have been a touchdown. I also saw him absolutely killing it out there the rest of the time, but I feel like it would be unfair to the other players if I didn’t mention that I witnessed that. At least, I think it was an overthrow.
- Very possibly people are underestimating the seasons that Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are about to have.
- After practice, Terrell Burgess said that “outside of taxes, California is the place to be” and I’d agree with that.
- Rob Havenstein told reporters that Brian Allen has had a “good mindset” all offseason and that Italian tackle Max Pircher “asks a lot of questions” but that it is a good thing. Could Allen turn out to be a good center? He hasn’t even played in a game since 2019, so I can’t imagine why anyone would deign to know how much he could have improved in that time. Even the coaching staff has to wait until the preseason to find out the answers to the same questions we’re all asking about the offensive line. It’s not as though teams are playing a bunch of games in secret and getting proof of concept. As of now, the “best offensive line combination” is only a theory that the coaching staff has. Some of them may even disagree. But Allen also has a new offensive line coach this year and there’s plenty that they could have learned (without secret games) about his development that has McVay so excited.
Next stops, Thousand Oaks to establish the game week routines and then Sofi Stadium against the LA Chargers on August 14th.