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Rams show what’s on tap for 2017: excitement and a lot of exhaustion

They tried to give it away, but couldn’t. They did everything humanly possible to blow it, except blow it. On a nutty night at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday, these new Rams backed up the precipice of 2016, stared over their shoulders into its flaming abyss, and … survived? Yeah, survived, won, barely,...

  • Around the NFL: Vikings’ Bradford may play Sunday

    Around the NFL: Vikings’ Bradford may play Sunday

    Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford says his left knee is feeling better this week, raising the possibility he’ll return from injury after only a one-game absence. Bradford was listed as a limited participant in practice Wednesday. He took limited turns last week, because of soreness and...

  • Chargers offensive tackle Chris Hairston is out for the season with an illness

    Chargers offensive tackle Chris Hairston is out for the season with an illness

    Valuable reserve tackle Chris Hairston was lost to the Chargers for the rest of the season Wednesday when the six-year veteran from Clemson was placed on the non-football illness list. The team did not disclose Hairston’s illness. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Hairston, who played left and right tackle,...

  • Bernie Casey, former Rams player turned actor, dies at 78

    Bernie Casey, former Rams player turned actor, dies at 78

    Bernie Casey, a professional football player turned poet, painter and actor known for parts in films such as "Revenge of the Nerds" and "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," has died. He was 78. Casey died Tuesday in Los Angeles after a brief illness, his talent agent Erin Connor said. Born in West Virginia...

  • Rosen still has something to learn about quick decisions

    Rosen still has something to learn about quick decisions

    Some of the game footage that UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen studies is about acceptable failure. A quarterback taking a sack. A scramble that goes for only a few yards. A pass completed short of the first-down marker. They’re all outcomes that are preferable to forcing passes that lead to interceptions....

  • Unlike rookie season, Jared Goff will get to break a sweat when the Rams face the 49ers

    Unlike rookie season, Jared Goff will get to break a sweat when the Rams face the 49ers

    The last time Rams quarterback Jared Goff was in Levi’s Stadium for an NFL game, he stood on the sideline wearing a sweatsuit. The No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, who grew up and played college football in the Bay Area, was inactive for the Rams’ opener against the San Francisco 49ers last season....

  • Rams prepare for Thursday night, by resting

    Rams prepare for Thursday night, by resting

    The whirlwind preparation for a Thursday night game began in earnest Monday for the Rams. And it started with … rest. Coach Sean McVay canceled a scheduled workout so players could have an extra day to physically recover after Sunday’s 27-20 loss to the Washington Redskins. Rams players said after...

  • Lions sack Giants, 24-10

    Lions sack Giants, 24-10

    Matthew Stafford threw for two touchdowns, rookie Jamal Agnew broke the game open with an 88-yard punt return in the fourth quarter and the Detroit Lions beat the New York Giants 24-10 on Monday night. The Lions (2-0) sacked Eli Manning five times and Stafford put together another big game while...

  • Denver Broncos are off to a running start

    Denver Broncos are off to a running start

    The team from the Mile High City is on the rise. The Denver Broncos are running the ball and stopping the run — they did neither well last season — and have a surprisingly effective quarterback in Trevor Siemian. As a result, they are 2-0 with impressive home victories over the Chargers and Dallas,...

  • Family, and friendly, ties bind Rams coach Sean McVay to a lineage of NFL greatness

    Family, and friendly, ties bind Rams coach Sean McVay to a lineage of NFL greatness

    Framed photographs, plaques and magazine covers adorn nearly every inch of wall space, memorabilia from a life in football that spans more than seven decades. A few are keepsakes from Massillon High in Ohio. Others are from college days at Miami (Ohio), coaching stops in the World Football League...

  • Chargers hope losing close games doesn't become contagious

    Chargers hope losing close games doesn't become contagious

    An inability to win close games can be like a flu bug spreading through the locker room. The Chargers, their latest nausea-inducing last-second defeat coming in Sunday’s 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins, can only hope to contain it. When kicker Younghoe Koo pushed a potential game-winning, 44-yard...

  • NFL: Su'a Cravens won't be playing for the Redskins this season

    NFL: Su'a Cravens won't be playing for the Redskins this season

    The banged-up Washington Redskins won't have Su'a Cravens for the rest of the season after putting the 22-year-old safety on the reserve/left squad list. Cravens left the team before Week 1 while contemplating retirement. The Redskins had a month to decide what to do with the 2016 second-round...

  • Marshawn Lynch's wild sideline dance irks Jets, amuses everyone else (video)

    Marshawn Lynch's wild sideline dance irks Jets, amuses everyone else (video)

    Marshawn Lynch was overjoyed Sunday to be playing in front of his hometown crowd as a member of the Oakland Raiders, especially with the way the team was playing. Need some proof? Check out the video of the veteran running back dancing on the sideline early in the fourth quarter of the Raiders’...

  • What we learned from the Chargers' 19-17 loss to the Dolphins

    What we learned from the Chargers' 19-17 loss to the Dolphins

    Here’s what we learned following the Chargers’ 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins at StubHub Center on Sunday: The teams, they’re not so special For the second week in a row, botched plays on special teams played a big role in a close defeat. Though last week’s problems were more evenly spread out...

  • What we learned from the Rams' 27-20 loss to the Washington Redskins

    What we learned from the Rams' 27-20 loss to the Washington Redskins

    What we learned in the Rams’ 27-20 loss to the Washington Redskins: The Rams need work on their run defense Washington rushed for 229 yards, with three backs gaining at least 67 yards. The Rams appeared especially vulnerable on the left side Linebacker Alec Ogletree said the Rams made mistakes...

  • Rams' Gurley delights fans with leaping ability

    Rams' Gurley delights fans with leaping ability

    Todd Gurley, full-time running back, part-time hurdler. Gurley put on a show Sunday, as he caught a short pass, sprinted up the sideline and leaped over a defender on his way to an 18-yard touchdown. The hurdles — he also jumped over a defender after a short catch early in the game — brought cheers...

  • Aaron Donald is back on the field for the Rams but has things to tackle

    Aaron Donald is back on the field for the Rams but has things to tackle

    Aaron Donald read the play, burst into the backfield and nearly grabbed the ball out of midair. But the Rams defensive lineman just missed. Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson took the pitch from quarterback Kirk Cousins and turned the corner for a first-quarter touchdown, helping to...

  • Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is a target in practice, not just in theory

    Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is a target in practice, not just in theory

    Hunter Henry is too good for a repeat of what happened in Denver last Monday night — something everyone within the Chargers organization seemed to agree on. The second-year tight end has a knack for finding space in the defense, using body positioning to welcome the ball into his hands. But in...

  • Chargers make cornerback Jason Verrett rest his injured left knee, which is still not 100%

    Chargers make cornerback Jason Verrett rest his injured left knee, which is still not 100%

    The Chargers decommissioned Jason Verrett on Friday because of soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, an injury that could sideline the Pro Bowl cornerback for several weeks, beginning with Sunday’s home opener against the Miami Dolphins at StubHub Center. It was for his own good, coach...

  • Four-man rush could be enough for Chargers

    Four-man rush could be enough for Chargers

    The stout edge-rushing tandem of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa and a pair of solid tackles in Brandon Mebane and Corey Liuget allow the Chargers defense a luxury few NFL teams have: They don’t have to blitz much to apply pressure on the quarterback. That was clearly evident in Monday night’s season-opening...

  • NFL notes: Bengals fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after 0-2 start

    NFL notes: Bengals fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after 0-2 start

    The Cincinnati Bengals made the first step toward digging out from their historically bad start Friday, firing offensive coordinator Ken Zampese a day after they again failed to get into the end zone. Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor was promoted to coordinator, a spot he held with the Miami Dolphins...

  • Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson eager to face Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins

    Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson eager to face Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins

    As a franchise-tagged player for the second season in a row, Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson shares a bond of sorts with Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. That’s one reason Johnson is looking forward to Sunday’s game at the Coliseum. “He’s tagged twice,” Johnson said Friday, “so I...

  • Colin Kaepernick receives NFLPA's first Community MVP award of the season

    Colin Kaepernick receives NFLPA's first Community MVP award of the season

    Colin Kaepernick isn’t on an NFL roster right now, but he apparently has been keeping up with his dues for the league’s players association. The NFLPA announced Friday that Kaepernick has been named its Week 1 Community MVP. Eligible players must be dues-paying members of the players association...

  • Rams punter Johnny Hekker kicks with a new spin

    Rams punter Johnny Hekker kicks with a new spin

    Johnny Hekker is punting with a new deal, and a new spin. The Rams punter, ranked first in the NFL in punting yards the last two seasons, spent the last year perfecting a technique introduced to him by Australian Nick Porebski, who punts for Hekkers’ alma mater, Oregon State. “Nick said, ‘Check...

  • Sam Farmer's NFL picks for Week 2

    Sam Farmer's NFL picks for Week 2

    The Times’ NFL columnist, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups. Lines according to Pregame.com (O/U = over/under). Last week’s record 9-6 (.600). Using point spreads with the scores Farmer predicted, his record against the spread last week would have been 4-10-1 (.286). Buffalo (1-0) at Carolina...

  • Deshaun Watson runs for TD, leads Texans over Bengals 13-9 in debut

    Deshaun Watson runs for TD, leads Texans over Bengals 13-9 in debut

    Deshaun Watson ran 49 yards for a touchdown in his first NFL start and led the Houston Texans' depleted offense to a late clinching field goal in a 13-9 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night. Watson showed up in a black tuxedo for his first NFL start — it was his 22nd birthday,...

  • Rams might limit Aaron Donald's snaps against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, but in practice he seemed up to speed

    Rams might limit Aaron Donald's snaps against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, but in practice he seemed up to speed

    With only three practices to prepare for his season debut, Aaron Donald will play a limited role Sunday when the Rams face the Washington Redskins at the Coliseum. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on Thursday likened the plan for the star defensive lineman to a “pitch count” a baseball manager...

  • As Redskins' Su'a Cravens deals with personal issues, coaches and players are shocked yet supportive

    As Redskins' Su'a Cravens deals with personal issues, coaches and players are shocked yet supportive

    What could have been a warm homecoming appearance on the same Coliseum turf he graced as a member of the USC football team has turned into a mystery. What is going on with Su’a Cravens? Reports surfaced this month that the former USC linebacker had told Washington Redskins teammates he planned...

  • Chargers offensive line holds its own against Broncos' ferocious pass rushers

    Russell Okung played for the Denver Broncos in 2016, so the veteran left tackle knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed a four-year, $53-million deal with the Chargers last March. One reason Chargers coach Anthony Lynn calls the AFC West “the toughest division in football, no doubt,”...

  • NFL: League fights back to enforce Ezekiel Elliott suspension

    The NFL moved quickly Monday in hopes of reversing a federal judge’s decision that blocked the league’s six-game suspension of star Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott over a domestic violence case. The league asked the judge who ruled in Elliott’s favor to stop the preliminary injunction...

  • Bradford, Diggs spoil Adrian Peterson's return to Minnesota

    Sam Bradford started his second season with Minnesota in style, passing for 346 yards and three touchdowns to help the Vikings beat New Orleans 29-19 on Monday night and spoil Adrian Peterson's first game with the Saints. Stefon Diggs had seven receptions for 93 yards, two for scores, and Adam...

  • Rams make moves that may foreshadow deal for Aaron Donald

    The Rams have yet to sign Aaron Donald to a contract extension that would make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player. But while Donald attended meetings and worked out with teammates Monday, the Rams made several financial moves that appear to be laying the groundwork for a possible deal...

  • Don't write off the Patriots because of opening loss — experts have made that mistake before

    Hey, Patriots, give us one more — with feeling. It’s a new week and a new start for the defending Super Bowl champions, who were blown out by Kansas City in their opener, 42-27. That’s the most points New England has surrendered in the Bill Belichick era, and Alex Smith badly outplayed Tom Brady....

  • Rams punter Johnny Hekker signs two-year contract extension

    Rams punter Johnny Hekker, arguably the team’s most valuable player last season, has signed a two-year contract extension, the Rams announced. Hekker, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, is now signed through the 2022 season The two-year extension includes $10 million in guarantees, according to several...

  • What we learned in the Rams' 46-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts

    What we learned in the Rams’ 46-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts: Jared Goff can make good decisions The Rams’ second-year quarterback completed 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown, without an interception. It was a far different look from the one Goff gave in his final preseason...

  • Rams defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks receives contract extension

    The Rams signed a defensive lineman to a contract extension — and it wasn’t Aaron Donald. Ethan Westbrooks, who started on Sunday in the Rams’ 46-9 season-opening victory over the Indianapolis Colts, received a deal that will keep him with the Rams through 2018, the team announced Monday. Westbrooks,...

  • How the Chargers and Broncos match up for the season opener Monday

    A look at how the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos match up for the season opener on Monday night. Chargers (5-11 last season) at Denver (9-7 last season) When: 7:20 p.m. PDT. TV: ESPN When Chargers have the ball New Denver coach Vance Joseph assessed the Chargers offense this week, saying...

  • Beckham-less Giants are offense-less in 19-3 loss to Cowboys

    Jason Witten scored the only touchdown while breaking the franchise record for yards receiving and the Dallas defense shackled a New York offense missing Odell Beckham Jr. in the Cowboys' 19-3 season-opening victory over the Giants on Sunday night. Ezekiel Elliott had a rugged 104 yards rushing...

  • Cooper Kupp and Rams receivers make few rookie mistakes in season-opening win over Colts

    Rams receiver Cooper Kupp caught his first touchdown pass and followed it with a rookie mistake: He tossed the ball to the referee. After Sunday’s season-opening 46-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at the Coliseum, Kupp hoped the ball would be identified and returned to him. “That was probably...

  • Rams turn the Coliseum into a fun house

    These Rams are fun! Four words not written once during last year’s homecoming season could be printed today on a banner as wide as Sean McVay’s smile. Put it in bold like a Lamarcus Joyner leap. Add the exclamation point of a Cooper Kupp lunge. Roll it out with the precision of a Jared Goff bullet....

  • Rams start the Sean McVay era with a bang in 46-9 rout of Colts to open season

    As he walked out of the Coliseum tunnel to the field on Sunday, a buttoned-up Sean McVay stopped and greeted his father. He hugged his mother. He accepted well wishes from other family members and friends. The 31-year-old McVay smiled but his expression belied a steely focus: He was about to make...

  • Rams defense not only dominates vs. Colts, it scores

    The Rams’ secondary set the tone in training camp, disrupting the offense and providing energy and entertainment. The effort carried over in Sunday’s 46-9 rout of the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener at the Coliseum. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson and safety Lamarcus Joyner returned interceptions...

  • USC-Texas revisited | Why soldier Travis Tofi kept his football career a secret

    On Jan. 4, 2006, USC and Texas played for college football’s national championship at the Rose Bowl in what is considered one of the greatest games in the sport’s history. The Longhorns won it 41-38 to complete a 13-0 season. USC, which had a 34-game winning streak, finished 12-1. The schools have...

  • Eagles ecstatic after 30-17 victory over Redskins

    Dousing the head coach with Gatorade after Week 1? Forgive the Philadelphia Eagles for their excessive celebration Sunday, but they hadn’t beaten the Washington Redskins in their last five tries. So their 30-17 victory — punctuated by a 20-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Fletcher Cox — was...

  • Philip Rivers and the Chargers seek a new comfort level in season opener at Denver

    Eleven years ago, Philip Rivers walked onto the field in Oakland, ready to do the thing he’d waited for his whole life — be a starting quarterback in the NFL. It was a Monday night, the final game of the league’s opening week, and Rivers and the Chargers made a strong statement by shutting out...

  • Ask Sam Farmer: Answering questions about scripted plays and rookie pay

    Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to: sam.farmer@latimes.com :: How can a team script out their first 15 plays when they have no idea of the...

  • Chargers determined to rise above Broncos' 'Mile High' advantage

    Earlier this week, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn joked about doing some redecorating before his first game as the team’s head coach Monday night in Denver. Maybe with a brush and bucket, maybe with paper and duct tape, Lynn wanted to cover all of the signs noting the elevation of the Broncos’ home...

  • Beth Mowins will take her place in history behind the mike on 'Monday Night Football'

    Beth Mowins didn’t set out to make history. She just wanted to call a football game. Monday night, she will do both. Mowins will be ESPN’s play-by-play announcer for the “Monday Night Football” game between the Chargers and Denver Broncos, which will mark the first regular-season NFL game called...

  • Aaron Donald ends holdout and reports to Rams on eve of opener, though without a new contract

    A restful night’s sleep on the eve of his first game as an NFL coach is not part of Sean McVay’s game plan. “I’ll probably just wake up every hour, tossing and turning, excited about the game,” McVay said. McVay no doubt rested a bit easier Saturday after star defensive lineman Aaron Donald ended...

  • Fifteen hot topics with Rams receiver Robert Woods

    Receiver Robert Woods has returned to Los Angeles. The former Gardena Serra High standout and USC All-American signed a five-year, $34-million free-agent contract with the Rams in the off-season after he played four seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Woods will start in the opener against the Indianapolis...

  • Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension is blocked by federal judge

    Another shoe has dropped in the Ezekiel Elliott saga, and it could make for a lengthy legal fight with the NFL after a federal judge in Texas blocked the league’s six-game suspension of the Dallas Cowboys star running back Friday evening. U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant agreed with the NFL Players...

  • Rams will have multi-threat Tavon Austin at their disposal against the Colts

    Some optimism was well-founded, some apparently not. For more than a month, Rams coach Sean McVay had expressed confidence that receiver Tavon Austin and defensive lineman Aaron Donald would be available to play in Sunday’s opener against the Indianapolis Colts at the Coliseum. Austin recovered...

  • Chargers will work together to get to the quarterback on Monday night

    It’s not a coincidence, Joey Bosa said, that teams that apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks most frequently do it with pass rushers and defensive backs working in tandem. It’s simple — and it could be what makes the Chargers’ defense live up to its potential this season, beginning with the...

  • Sam Farmer's NFL picks: Week 1

    The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups. Lines according to Pregame.com (O/U = over/under). Last season’s record 172-82-2 (.677). Using point spreads with the scores Farmer predicted, the record against the spread last season would have been 130-118-2 (.524). Records from...

  • Alex Smith and the Chiefs crash Patriots' celebration

    They cheered. They danced. They high-fived. Thursday was a night of celebration for the New England Patriots. Until the Kansas City Chiefs came to life. In a resounding upset of the defending Super Bowl champions, the visiting Chiefs relied on a pristine performance by quarterback Alex Smith and...

  • Wade Phillips will have his full defense, minus Aaron Donald

    Shrouded in injury-depleted mystery during the preseason, a near fully stocked Rams defense will finally be on display in Sunday’s season opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is as curious as anybody. “I’m just waiting to kind of see how we do,” Phillips said...

  • NFL notes: No. 1 pick Myles Garrett out a few weeks

    Myles Garrett’s NFL debut for the Browns won’t happen for weeks. The top overall pick in this year’s draft will miss Sunday’s opener against Pittsburgh and possibly a few more games after severely spraining his right ankle during practice. A teammate fell on the back of his leg during a drill...

  • Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson didn't get a long-term contract, but he's a team captain

    Trumaine Johnson is attempting to make the most of a disappointing situation — and he’s off to a noteworthy start. The Rams declined to sign the cornerback to a long-term contract during the offseason, but players voted Johnson a team captain. “It shows you what a great job he’s done on focusing...

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