Head Coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford took the podium Monday after the first practice of the week. Here are seven takeaways from their press conferences.
McVay on Raymond Calais’ injury and current running back depth
(00:27) “You feel terrible for him. He was really doing a nice job. It’s a bummer that that really occurred. Was really pleased with the progress that he made and he had put in so much work with (running backs) Coach Brown. But we feel good about the group that we have right now. We’re going to continue to evaluate it but I thought both Jake (Funk) and Xavier (Jones) showed some really good things and then we know the confidence that we have in Darrell (Henderson).”
Calais fractured his foot during the preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders and will be on the mend for four to six months. The Rams waived him after reaching an injury settlement. McVay praised Funk’s second effort and Jones’ catching ability out of the backfield, while reiterating his faith in Henderson, who suffered a thumb sprain at practice, but avoided serious injury.
Johnny Mundt will get the biggest opportunity of his career thus far
(00:57) “(Tyler) Higbee does a great job being able to lead the way. He’s been a productive player for such a long time and I think he’s feeling good. He really battled through a lot of different things last year, that’s really a credit to his toughness and his resilience. Johnny Mundt, I think is ready to take on a bigger role and then really guys are working to establish themselves behind those two.”
Mundt, who has a career total of 84 yards on nine catches, will be called on to fill the hole left by former Ram Gerald Everett. No mention of Jacob Harris amongst the tight ends all but confirms he has not proven to be ready to compete for snaps at tight end, as he has exclusively played at wide receiver. Hopefully he can have a role in the red zone, where he was used as a jump ball specialist during the preseason.
Monday’s practice lacked the sense of urgency expected of a Super Bowl contender
(01:28) “It felt a little flat. We can’t afford to have that. The sense of urgency has got to go up. We’re going to be here before you know it on September 12th. The guys always respond. Sometimes it’s hard to get engaged, been a couple days off. Either way, expect to have a little more sense of urgency from our group.”
The season opener against the Chicago Bears is right around the corner so it is time to lock in. Let’s hope Tuesday’s session is more to Coach McVay’s liking, and is at the level of a team who expects to hoist the Lombardi trophy on their home field.
John Wolford will be active in the preseason finale
(02:33) “He’ll be active if need be. Not planning on playing John.”
Your favorite hurdling QB of all time! Excited to see more of Bryce Perkins this weekend! pic.twitter.com/7TzQdtsT3f— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) August 18, 2021
McVay was got right to the point. With Devlin “Duck” Hodges being a victim of the most recent effort to trim down the roster, third string quarterback Bryce Perkins will get another game all to himself. Wolford will be available in an emergency role.
Matthew Stafford has been keeping a close eye on Tutu Atwell
(08:15) “He’s done a nice job. I watched him closely in the game. Thought he did some really nice things. Threatened some people with his speed, was sudden at the top of some of those routes, did a nice job of catching the ball when it was thrown his way. He’s just developing. He’s another guy (Stafford previously mentioned his chemistry with Van Jefferson) that every opportunity he gets is going to be a huge plus for him in making sure he learns from those.”
Atwell has played a ton, showing good hands and toughness, as he has taken some pretty good hits and battled through some in game bumps and bruises. We’ve yet to see him take the top off of the defense, but that time is coming soon. Stafford certainly won’t hesitate to target the speed demon down the field, given the opportunity.
Most targets without a dropped pass this preseason— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 23, 2021
Rams' rookie Tutu Atwell (16) pic.twitter.com/FcidbYKHXP
Learning the intricacies of the offense has been “pretty cool.”
(10:00) “Before this year it was unlike anything I had ever done so from afar I was wondering how they got all of that done to be honest with you. Being inside of it now and being able to be a part is pretty cool and see how it all happens. Back then, all you were getting was nickel 4-2 and like body matches and all that kind of stuff, and they were just going up and down the field on people. Defenses have adapted and done things to try and disrupt some of the rules and things that we have as an offense but it’s on us to adapt then further.”
With all of the different variations of the McVay- Shanahan style offenses, defenses have developed answers that were much harder to find three years ago. Adding a quarterback with Stafford’s arm talent and experience should allow the fifth year head man to open up the playbook and attack all areas of the field with different route combinations off those famous bootlegs.
Stafford’s expectation of being ready for the season opener without playing in the preseason
(12:30) “I hope I’m getting better in this offense for five, seven, ten years. I hope that my first game on September 12th isn’t my best game as a Ram. I’d love to have a great one, but I hope I get better and better in this offense with all these guys with this team as it goes. You’ve looked at it, kind of across the league when guys change spots, there’s some really highs, there’s some lows, there’s some things we’re going to have to just battle through and keep working. I mean days like today. You have maybe a tough period here or there and you’ve got to keep battling. You can’t just freaking hang it up and go in. I was proud of the way we practiced and battled today. Everything wasn’t perfect but that’s what it’s out here doing and the season is going to be the same way.”
Jalen Ramsey says Matthew Stafford has “elite talent”.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) August 22, 2021
“We feel like we different over here. So we feel like we can do a little something something to bring it all out of him.” @RamsNFL pic.twitter.com/WL2uf9ERiJ
The twelve year vet echoed McVay’s sentiments about practice not being an offensive clinic while also reminding everyone that there will be ups and downs during the season, as he adjusts to this new offense. Thankfully Stafford will play against a familiar foe when the LA hosts the Chicago in the Sunday night opener, less than three weeks away.