It’s in the books, the first week of the Los Angeles Rams training camp and those first, few small steps in defending the NFL Championship.
All around the league, the inside stories, hyperbole, and hot takes are coming fast and furious. This time of year, puffery is not just a tool of used car salesmen, politicians, and public relations flaks. Coaches, players, and fans, all decked out in rose-colored glasses, wax philosophical on their teams destinies. Not to be out done, here are some of the Rams top stories from the first week of camp.
Warning! Some puffery may have snuck in, simply for entertainment purposes.
Rams put on the pads
Today will be the first “in pads” practice. After a Thursday day off, the Rams will raise the intensity and engage in combat. Fans should not expect a wild, roughhouse session. The Rams staff is very adept at getting work in without risking injuries to their playmakers.
The first four practices have been closed to the public and according to the Rams official site, Friday will be the first workout to allow fan access.
Rams scheme installations are ahead of schedule
Sean McVay took a relaxed view of OTAs after the Super Bowl win. There were many injuries that needed rehab and he wanted the team to recharge after the longest season in NFL history. He worked on teaching the incoming rookies and other newcomer how the Rams did things, concentrating “above the neck.”
Now that Matthew Stafford has a year in the system, he can concentrate on taking ownership of the offense instead of learning terminology and plays. With this knowledge, the Rams can absorb scheme information faster and translate it to on field production.
McVay is very happy with how the team has responded and their readiness for the road back to the NFL Championship.
Rams HC Sean McVay: "We're further along in terms of the installs and some of the things that we're able to get done offensively and defensively than we've been in previous years. What that means leading into September 8, we'll have a better idea, once we get closer to that."— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) July 26, 2022
Will the injury bug be repelled
How the Rams injury situation plays out through camp should be kept in focus. Eric Edholm at NFL.com, thinks that staying healthy is the Rams biggest concern in 2022.
“The Rams rewrote the unofficial team-building handbook last season with their top-heavy approach, securing a handful of star talents and surrounding them with solid, complementary players. The Rams also stayed relatively healthy a year ago, all things considered, and rode off with a Super Bowl victory in their home stadium. But can they count on good health again? The roster’s depth could be seriously tested; it features only four former first-round picks and eight second-rounders.”
Running back Kyren Williams, Safety Quentin Lake, and linebacker Travin Howard will start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform List. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was on that list, but was taken off and is limited. Running back Cam Akers and quarterback Matthew Stafford are reportedly 100 percent, but Stafford is on a pitch count. It was no surprise that the Rams added a camp arm in QB Louis Perez to handle practice reps.
Tight end Tyler Higbee, running back Darrell Henderson, wide receiver Van Jefferson, and safety Jordan Fuller are all important contributors who missed OTAs because of sugeries late last season or after the Super Bowl victory.
Sean McVay was willing to pay a high price to sign Allen Robinson
Still basking in the afterglow of the Super Bowl win and the accompanying Lombardi Trophy, Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp met with McVay and breached the subject of adding Robinson to the Rams wide receiver unit.
Robert Woods had been sent to the Tennessee Titans, Odell Beckham was not only injured, but a free agent as well. Van Jefferson had his own knee surgery. Bennett Skowronek and Tutu Atwell both had their rookie ups-and-downs. Adding a veteran wide receiver with a high upside would be a stellar move. But could the team afford him?
Trying to get Robinson to forget about other teams offers and come to LA, McVay told Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. what he was willing to pay for Robinson’s commitment.
“I was selling my f---ing balls off to this guy,”
Bobby Wagner is wearing the green dot
Coming off a career high of 170 tackles, Wagner brings a thumpers mentality and the ability to cover receivers. The area in the short middle of the field has been a real weak spot in the LA defense and the teams that give the Rams fits have all exploited this area. Wagner’s addition should tighten down opponents from playing pitch-and-catch inside the hashes.
After 10 years as the Seattle Seahawks defensive captain, the newly acquired Wagner has been named to the same role with the Rams, relaying the defensive calls to his teammates. A natural leader, he keeps the defense’s practice intensity at a high level, schools his younger teammates while simultaneously getting a grasp on a new scheme, and fits perfectly into LA “accountability” mindset.
Ever since the Rams chose Harris at #141 of the fourth round in the 2021 NFL Draft, participants in the Turf Show Times forums have debated how his role should be defined, tight end or wide receiver.
At 6’ 5” and 220 lbs. and running a 4.39 forty with a 40.5” vertical leap, Harris’s build is akin to today’s NFL wide outs. Before his knee injury last season, he looked like he would fit into the Rams offense. He had a few ball security issues, but overall, did not look overmatched.
Jacob Harris walked into the Rams’ facilities this spring with a “new” position and a locker right next to Allen Robinson’s. In camp, and finally healthy, the message is clear: It’s time to go all-in at receiver. He’s got the tools, and teachers, to do it: https://t.co/BKE6U5DVTi— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) July 28, 2022
Is Von Miller really missing the Rams? Are the feelings mutual?
After leaving the Rams this off season for the Buffalo Bills and a six-year, $120 mil contract, Miller returned to LA last week, to receive his Super Bowl Championship ring. According to Peter King and Football Morning in America, Miller said,
“So hard to let go of L.A., so hard to let go of Coach McVay, [GM] Les Snead and especially Aaron Donald, man. Every time I think about it, man, I get sad thinking about not playing with them anymore.”
Was it buyers remorse? Or simply a case saying the right thing at a Rams team event?
Either way, Leonard Floyd thinks the members of the current LA edge unit are ready to step up and replace Miller and said as much in a video press conference.
“My guys are hungry. We looked at it as Von came in, did his thing, now he’s gone. Now it’s their turn to do their thing. We never looked at it as, ‘Aw, we lost Von.’ Nah, nah, nah. We hungry. We going to show that this year, too.”
Two of Floyd’s “my guys”, Terrell Lewis and Daniel Hardy, have been getting some run as standouts in this first week of camp.
Terrell Lewis is healthy
When the Rams drafted Lewis, he was considered a high risk/high reward player. Injuries limited him to only 26 college games and his tenure in LA has marked by time missed due to injury. He has certainly flashed glimpses of a game changers ability, using burst, power and a tremendous wingspan. But those knee injuries have relegated him to only four starts and 19 games.
Rams veteran edge Leonard Floyd thinks that Lewis is focused and healthy for 2022. In a July 27 video press conference, Floyd spoke out about the Alabama prospect’s confidence he he is showing from his healthy knee’s strength.
“I can tell he trusting it a lot more than he did last year. He’s executed some of his best rushes in training camp. I’m looking forward to him doing it with the pads on...“He’s been taking care of his body the whole offseason. I can tell when he pass-rushes, he leanin’, he dippin’, and he real fluid right now,”
Some guys just can’t get over a crush
Whether-or-not Daniel Hardy makes the Rams final 53 is still up in the air, but one thing for certain, he has a lot of fans rooting for his success and trumpeting every good report on his progress. In that spirit, here’s what Sean McVay told reporters at a presser, earlier this week.
“He’s done a good job. He’s got great effort. You can see the athleticism. I think he’s getting more and more comfortable with the things that we’re asking him to do snap in and snap out. So, Daniel’s a guy that definitely has flashed.”
Blasts from the past
Defensive back Eddie Meador and linebacker Maxie Baughn were announced as NFL Hall of Fame candidates by the the Hall’s Senior Committee. Clark Shaughnessy was also nominated by the Coach/Contributor Committee.
Meador joined LA in 1959 as a seventh round draft pick out of Arkansas Tech, an NAIA school. and played through 1970. He retired as the Rams all-time leader in interceptions (46), opponents fumbles recovered (18) and blocked kicks (10). Meador was twice named a first team All-Pro, three times to the second team and six Pro Bowl berth’s. He was also named to the 1960’s All-Decade team.
A two-way star (center and linebacker) from Georgia Tech, Baughn was a 1960 second round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles and as a rookie, was an All-Pro contributor on the their NFL Championship team. He would go on to be named All-Pro seven times. He joined the Rams in 1966 and played four seasons in LA. As the Rams defensive captain, he was was named to the Pro Bowl all four seasons and was thrice selected All-Pro.
Often called the father of the modern T-formation and the forward pass, Shaughnessy was a football innovator who also was the first NFL coach to use three wide receivers. He did this with LA to utilize Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch as a flanker with wide outs Tom Fears and Bob Shaw, creating mismatches and getting his playmakers into space. He only lasted two seasons in LA, with reports that his playbook was too big being a reason for his demise.