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LA Rams bring together offense and defense for phase three of OTAs

Sean McVay deals with injuries and high-profile absences

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As spring winds down into the dog days of summer, phase three of the Los Angeles Rams official team activities (OTAs) has begun. In this portion of preseason work, although scheduled to be non-contact and without pads, the Rams can now line up in offense versus defense scenarios and work on installing/refreshing schemes.

Participation is voluntary, but many, if not most players are in camp and working to lay the necessary groundwork to defend LA’s Super Bowl LVI title. Certainly, all the rookies are in-house trying to impress their position coaches and make that uphill slog to a roster spot. But there are some notable veteran players who are making a slow return to action, either to rehab injuries or by personal choice.

Sitting out

Jalen Ramsey- Although he has been present in and around Rams workouts, Ramsey prefers to workout and prepare for the season on his own.

Aaron Donald- Will he, or won’t he? That decision will fit structurally whether the subject is retirement, holding out for a new, bigger contract, or honoring his current deal. The Rams say they want to upgrade their top player find a win-win resolution. AD is a workout machine, so a lot should not read into him missing some voluntary workouts.

It’s LA-LA land, a little off season drama is apropos. Donald and his support team are very aware of his personal brand and the market he's in. The current Rams leadership have shown that they are willing to pay their talent. If he doesn’t report to training camp, then it will be time to furrow eyebrows and say “hmmm”.

Nursing injuries

Matthew Stafford- Coming off a career best completion percentage of 67.6%, Stafford is reportedly not throwing many, if any passes until late in July, when the Rams official training camp begins. His elbow distress began back in 2020 when he tore a ulnar collateral ligament, this led to his wearing an elbow sleeve for support.

During last season’s winless November skid, Stafford was nicked up and hobbled by elbow, back and ankle woes. Still, he refused to blame his uneven performance on injuries. During this stretch, he completed a hair over 60% of passes, lost a fumble and had as many interceptions as touchdowns, five.

The Rams have space open on the roster and should sign a camp arm for drills, Staff doesn’t need 10,000 throws to get his timing down. Getting in synch with Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and Tyler Higbee shouldn’t take many reps, there’s history there. Allen Robinson could be a little different, but honestly, two old pros like Robinson and Stafford should be able to easily mesh.

Tyler Higbee- Left early in the NFL Championship win over the San Francisco with a knee sprain and missed participating in the Super Bowl win. The knee ended up requiring off-season surgery and his timetable is to be ready for training camp.

Darrell Henderson- Is missing time early, struggling with a soft tissue injury. In his three year Rams career, Henderson has battled hamstring, rib cartilage, knee and ankle injuries. His durability issues have cast a shadow on his stellar abilities as both a runner and receiver.

Van Jefferson- After battling through knee and shoulder injuries in the second half of last season, the Rams are bringing Jefferson along slowly. Although he remains at WR3 after LA’s acquisition of Allen Robinson, he should be a big part of the Rams passing game.

Jordan Fuller- In the 2021 regular season finale, the Rams defensive captain and play caller injured his ankle. It would require surgery and Fuller missed out on the Rams playoff run. Fuller accounted for 113 tackles last season. On the the Rams official website, Fuller said his rehab was “on track” and he was “bridging up” to on field workouts.

Much ado about nothing?

These are the first days of players being able to be on the field together and it must be reported that according to NFLPA rules, participation is strictly voluntary. It’a good time for the rookies to get their feet wet and acclimated to professional protocols.

Making a big deal out of veteran players not showing up or the slow integration of players with injuries, whether major or minor, back into a daily routine, would be overkill. But, what happens at these early sessions should be noted with some interest. It’s all part of being the defending NFL champions.