Day 1 of open practices at UC Irvine for Los Angeles Rams Training Camp was buzzing, as fans were lining up three hours early to get their first look at the defending champions. Not only was the atmosphere electric, but the sound of pads popping was heard as well, as it was the first day of fully padded practices for the team.
Football is officially back, and man does it feel good!
Here are 5 observations I made from the Rams first open practice in Irvine, CA:
DECOBIE DURANT MAY HAVE “IT”
Now, this may seem premature, as no actual games have been played. However, there are those players where you can just see/feel their presence on the field, and I get that feeling from fourth round rookie cornerback Decobie Durant.
Durant had two interceptions on the day, one coming off a spectacular diving catch he made cutting off a deep corner route thrown from Matthew Stafford intended for Cooper Kupp. The latter play alone was so elite that I am sure Durant has a legitimate shot to get snaps this season, as the speed in which he recognized the route concept and identified the angle he should take in order to play the ball was that of a seasoned veteran.
Rams camp yesterday— Cliff Jackson Jr. (@CliffJacksonn) July 30, 2022
ONE DAY CLOSER TO KICKOFF BABY pic.twitter.com/SEJpKePWkG
One knock on Durant was his size, as some claimed he was too small to play at the NFL level. In my opinion, size at the corner position is extremely overrated, I see it as more of a luxury if you do have good size. Corner comes down to being able to cover and being able to make plays on the football, both of which Durant showed he can do in day 1.
COLEMAN SHELTON GETS FIRST-TEAM REPS AT RG
One big question mark for the Rams entering this season is who will be the man to step up and start at right guard? Many believe, including myself, it would be rookie guard and third round pick out of the University of Wisconsin, Logan Bruss. However, backup center Coleman Shelton is showing his versatility, so much so that he was the one trotting out with the first team offense as the right guard.
Now, the competition is in full swing, so I would imagine Bruss and possibly Bobby Evans could potentially get some first team reps as well, but Shelton getting the initial nod may bode well in the future for the fourth year man.
RAMS TINKERING WITH 3 SAFETIES ON THE FIELD
Now this was one of the more exciting observations I made from day 1, as I've been a huge advocate for using Taylor Rapp in more of a hybrid role and letting him fly around and make tackles. With the emergence of Nick Scott, the Rams have three legitimate safeties that can play.
There were times during the situational portion of practice where Taylor Rapp, Nick Scott, and Jordan Fuller were all on the field at the same time, This, in my opinion, would put the three into positions where they can be the most successful, in particular Taylor Rapp.
Now, I'm not saying Rapp is bad in coverage, it's just certainly not his strong suit. Rapp is a natural and gifted tackler, an extremely physical football player who I believe should be near the line of scrimmage as close to the ball as possible. Rapp is capable of covering tight ends, as well as filling gaps as if he's a linebacker. Let Jordan Fuller and Nick Scott be more so coverage guys and allow Rapp to be the enforcer of the group, creating a healthy balance between the three. If the Rams can successfully incorporate packages where all three safeties can be on the field together, that can make for an awfully fast and versatile defense that would be very tough to prepare for.