So far through the first week of training camp, the Los Angeles Rams have done a relatively good job in keeping their plans and progress as a secret from the media. I’ve been keeping tabs on all 32 training camps around the NFL and even as someone who monitors the Rams full-time, I feel as though I’ve heard less about the “standouts” and “disappointments” out of Irvine than I have from most other teams.
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been any reports (6 things I think I’ve learned so far about the Rams in training camp) but the most accurate news will likely happen after the preseason gets underway on August 14th against the LA Chargers.
To pick a stand out now, I would have to start with the most obvious choice of all: Matthew Stafford.
The quarterback soaking in all the attention as is, Stafford has been the most apparent difference with the Rams this year (Stafford’s no-look pass to Darrell Henderson) and teammates from Cooper Kupp to Leonard Floyd to Aaron Donald have praised the skills and leadership that Stafford brings to the team. He’s been a standout at camp, but not a surprise.
Perhaps in that case, a more accurate LA player to single out would be another veteran, in this case it being DeSean Jackson. While the Arizona Cardinals are apparently quite happy so far with their investment in 33-year-old receiver A.J. Green, the 34-year-old Jackson has also turned heads in Rams camp and he figures to be more than just an offensive distraction for the defense who gets one or two targets per game.
But Jackson has so much less NFL road ahead of him than he does behind him, so I’m sure you’d prefer to hear more about some standouts who are still on their rookie deals.
Second-year safety Terrell Burgess is one of them and he should find a role on the defense that allows him to eat a good chunk of the ~2,000 secondary snaps that left in free agency to sign with the Cleveland Browns this offseason.
Though he may best fit on the practice squad this time around, seventh round rookie wideout Ben Skowronek has made a case already for the preseason snaps he’ll need to prove himself as worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster. He could be a future captain on special teams and his ceiling as a receiver is still in flux.
And though he’s expected to have minor surgery that won’t keep him out for long, fourth round cornerback Robert Rochell made a few plays early in training camp and could qualify as another standout, but will need more time on the field.
We’ll know a lot more once a lot more time has passed, but for now, here are a few other players around the league who had a reportedly good first week of camp. Some of whom may have had some connection to the Rams, including a pair of center prospects from the 2020 NFL Draft.
Matt Hennessy is running away with Falcons center job
I recall us taking about Hennessy a lot leading up to the draft last year and right now it looks like the Falcons have found their Alex Mack replacement.
Matt Hennessy is the clear leader at center
Fans didn’t get to see much from 2020 third-round pick Matt Hennessy outside of a few games as an injury replacement, but he appears to be impressing the new coaching staff. After the addition of fourth-round pick Drew Dalman in the 2021 NFL Draft, the center position seemed like it could be up in the air going into camp.
Matt Hennessy is moving really well at center. Getting to the second level with ease. #Falcons— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) August 1, 2021
That doesn’t appear to be the case right now, with Hennessy getting all the first-team reps at center and looking good doing it. Obviously, it’s difficult to fully evaluate line play without full contact and pads, but Hennessy’s movement skills and ability to climb to the second level were on full display on several run plays. Meanwhile, Drew Dalman got some looks as both a center and guard with the second team offense.
The Falcons drafted Hennessy with the 78th overall pick, which is 21 picks after the Rams picked Van Jefferson, and six picks ahead of where the Rams chose Terrell Lewis. If you’re going to compare whether or not LA could have or “should have” picked Hennessy, then it’s important to know what the Rams would be losing out on too. And right now, I have no problem with Jefferson being on the team and Hennessy being on the Falcons.
Maybe that will change by the end of the season.
Lloyd Cushenberry finding his focus in pro football
Though he was rated as one of the worst centers in the NFL last season by PFF, Cushenberry seems to have found his footing during year two. After drafting Quinn Meinerz in the third round this year (another center prospect who Rams fans were hopeful to attain and didn’t), the Denver Broncos seemed content with seeing Cushenberry pushed to the bench, but it’s been apparent for a while now that there wouldn’t be a change at center this season.
Broncos guard Dalton Risner had this to say in June:
“They’re both doing a heck of a job. Lloyd has grown so much, and he worked so hard over this offseason,” Risner said. “I think he looks really good. He’s calling it out really well—that’s who I’m working with right now. So, a lot of respect towards Lloyd. I think he’s grown and he’s going to continue to grow. Man, it’s so fun to be with these guys.”
Cushenberry welcomed the competition and that attitude is probably part of what has helped him secure his starting role so far. Mile High Report reports that Cushenberry looks “much improved” and it seems like Denver has their center of the future, meaning Meinerz could be forced to set his focus at guard.
Austin Trammell appreciation moment
Another standout in the first week of training camp has been undrafted Rice receiver Austin Trammell, a player who I openly campaigned for the Rams to sign:
Other receivers who made an impact were Austin Trammell—who also stood out yesterday—and former UDFA Chris Rowland. Trammell added a few other good grabs and a very nice long punt return, while Rowland made a spectacular diving sideline catch against tight coverage from rookie safety Richie Grant.
My article on Trammell from April was one of the most popular posts on TST on Sunday, so that’s how I was tipped off that there are some people out there who are now as excited as I was back then. Looking at Atlanta’s roster, it seems like Trammell has a shot at the final 53.
Now here’s a longer list with a lot less words after each name. It is certainly not the complete list of “standouts” but it is a start and I definitely believe that some of these players will continue to be worth monitoring.
And others, will not. Did you want the Rams to pick up any of these players?
Other training camp standouts through one week:
- CB Maurice Canady, Cowboys (Source)
- DE Randy Gregory, Cowboys (Source)
- LB Carter Coughlin, Giants (Source)
- LB Krys Barnes, Packers (Source)
- RB Damien Williams, Bears (Source)
- DT Alim McNeil, Lions (Source)
- CB Chris Williamson, Falcons (Source)
- CB Mike Edwards, Bucs (Source)
- WR A.J. Green, Cardinals (Source)
- CB Ahkello Witherspoon, Seahawks (Source)
- RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots (Source)
- WR Jake Kumerow, Bills (Source)
- WR Robert Foster, Dolphins (Source)
- WR James Proche, Ravens (Source)
- LB Anthony Walker, Jr., Browns (Source)
- RB Trayveon Williams, Bengals (Source)
- TE Pat Freiermuth, Steelers (Source)
- WR Michael Pittman, Colts (Source)
- OT Rod Johnson, Texans (Source)
- WR Jalen Camp, Jaguars (Source)
- CB Breon Borders, Titans (Source)
- OT Alex Leatherwood, Raiders (Source)
- C Lloyd Cushenberry, Broncos (Source)
- CB Nate Hobbs, Raiders (Source)
- LB Brennan Scarlett, Dolphins (Source)
- WR Jalen Hurd, 49ers (Source)