The L.A. Rams are less than two weeks away from their first preseason game and we’ve learned quite a bit about the team already through one week of practice.
Here is the rundown of what Rams reporters saw on the field on Monday, including standouts like Robert Rochell and Tutu Atwell, Brandon Powell’s best shot to make the roster, the open competition at punter, the big plays by Bobby Wagner and Brycen Hopkins, and the importance of John Wolford.
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John Wolford fills in for Matthew Stafford
Stu Jackson of TheRams.com noted that McVay is giving Stafford some rest, which means more reps with the starters for Wolford.
“Really, when we look at it, we’ve got five weeks until September 8,” McVay. “He’s still feeling a little bit of pain, he could push through it, you guys have been out here, he’s been throwing and competing in team settings. We felt like the smart thing was, let’s really just take it a week at a time.”
While I don’t see any reason about Stafford’s availability for Week 1, or even most of the season, it is fair to question what workload he can handle at this point if the Rams are meant to play another 20-21 games.
Nobody is taking Wolford’s place as the backup quarterback and it’s interesting to consider what his long-term future with the team will be. Is there a team that will ever be interested in Wolford as a starter? Is he settling in as the next Chase Daniel?
Stafford still working with Cooper Kupp
Give the fans what they want.
Nice dime by Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp on post route. pic.twitter.com/4tfWvz8gM3— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) August 1, 2022
Robert Rochell shining
Robert Rochell intercepts a Bryce Perkins pass deep down the sideline intended for Tutu Atwell during 11-on-11. Terrific play.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 1, 2022
I am not surprised to hear that Rochell is settling in nicely as the replacement to Darious Williams, if not an upgrade. Rochell played so well during his brief stint as a rookie and he had the upside going into the draft as a potential number one cornerback. It’s early in camp, but the standout play of Rochell, Derion Kendrick, and Decobie Durant so far is encouraging for a team that has had so much turnover at cornerback in the last three years.
Love for Brycen Hopkins
Though he has barely played through two healthy seasons, Hopkins could very well be taking a leap in year three. It’s not that late into his NFL career and the Rams are extremely hopeful that one of their young tight ends will develop into the replacement for Tyler Higbee.
TE Brycen Hopkins having a good day. pic.twitter.com/3jIFsrRTRZ— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) August 1, 2022
Multiple reporters were high on the Monday practice by Hopkins. But he did get bested by Rochell at one point.
Another nice play by Robert Rochell, making the pass breakup on a jump ball by John Wolford for Brycen Hopkins in corner of endzone.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 1, 2022
Aaron Donald still not afraid to practice with Elijah Garcia
Aaron Donald getting some extra work before camp. pic.twitter.com/7Kpi9R0ygq— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) August 1, 2022
No, Donald was not “bullying” Garcia with any drills this week. If he was, this must be Greg Gaines stepping in to defend Garcia...slowly...so slowly.
Bobby Wagner continues to solidify himself as Bobby Wagner
Bobby Wagner picks off John Wolford and returns it 40 yards for a touchdown during 11-on-11. Defense ran to the end zone to celebrate with him. Lots of cheers from crowd.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 1, 2022
Wagner had an interception “touchdown” off of Wolford on Monday. Some of the team jumped on Wagner after the play. Must be “hazing.”
Bobby Wagner with a springy pick 6 on Wolford has the Rams defense and the crowd here hyped! AD with the block at the goal line to seal the TD and he starts a dog pile, of course #Rams #RamsCamp pic.twitter.com/fzgii68GVh— Ava Brand (@avagbrand) August 1, 2022
Bobby Wagner gets a pick 6 then gets tackled by Donald pic.twitter.com/5GR4tvziFA— DarkKushPapi (@DarkKushDaPapi) August 1, 2022
Defensive coordinator compared Wagner to former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks on Sunday. Normally these comparisons are like “WTF?!” but it’s Bobby Wagner.
Rams DC Raheem Morris says the overall talent on this defense with Bobby Wagner’s addition is special: “It’s something to go to bed not feeling normal. When you wake up, you’ve got a chance to be the very best.”— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) July 31, 2022
He compares the experience of coaching Wagner to Derrick Brooks. pic.twitter.com/zLPutHPJM5
Wagner will be the “green dot” leader for the Rams defense.
Ram DC Raheem Morris said LB Bobby Wagner wearing the green dot provides edge to defense because of his unique ability to communicate, says he plays fast because he has no wasted movement on the field. pic.twitter.com/ZinSSpg4E9— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) July 31, 2022
Tutu Atwell could be the WR three-three
Tutu Atwell has the ball in his hands pretty frequently these days at Rams camp pic.twitter.com/mPb2Pytmtz— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) August 1, 2022
This does not at all surprise me. I was high on Atwell coming out of the draft, high on him pairing with McVay and Stafford, high on his chances to unseat Van Jefferson if he got the chance. With Jefferson having knee surgery this week, it’s more of a chance for Atwell to show off and that seems to be happening.
Joe DeCamillis noted that Atwell is basically ready to be the punt returner, but not there yet with kickoffs and that could mean a roster spot for Brandon Powell.
ST coord Joe DeCamillis says Tutu Atwell is “much better, much more comfortable, making better decisions” as a punt returner. Kickoff returns “still a work in progress.”— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) August 1, 2022
He also gives major praise to Brandon Powell and says he was really happy when Powell got his new contract. pic.twitter.com/CQcf4HCBiX
It’s a competition at punter
DeCamillis would not just hand the job to Riley Dixon and says that Cameron Dicker has a chance to win it.
Couple of notes from Joe DeCamillis:— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 1, 2022
- Yes, it's a competition at punter. Likes two they have in Dicker and Dixon (says Dixon has similar skill set at Hekker).
- Atwell improved at PR, not as pleased on KR.
- Big praise for Powell. Says "hopefully he's found himself a home now".