Sammy Watkins, the Rams’ new weapon, is already bringing excitement
The Times’ Gary Klein and Lindsey Thiry break down the Rams’ 13-10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Their discussion includes Sean McVay’s first game as coach, quarterback Jared Goff and the arrival of receiver Sammy Watkins from Buffalo.
Fanfare does not usually accompany an NFL team’s first practice after a preseason game.
That will change Monday for the Rams when new receiver Sammy Watkins works out with the team for the first time.
Watkins, 24, is regarded as the deep threat that McVay and quarterback Jared Goff need to make McVay’s multidimensional passing attack go.
“It will be exciting just to see him move around,” McVay said Sunday, “and we’ll start to try to meet with him and get him going up to speed as quickly as possible with some of our offense’s verbiage and the different things that we’ll ask of him.
“But it is exciting to add a player of his caliber.”
Watkins was on the sideline Saturday night during the Rams’ 13-10 preseason victory over the Dallas Cowboys at the Coliseum.
Afterward, quarterback Jared Goff recounted how he learned of the trade that brought Watkins to the Rams from the Buffalo Bills.
The Rams had just finished team meetings on Friday when news of the deal broke.
“I look at my phone — like 50 text messages like, ‘Sammy Watkins. Sammy Watkins,’” Goff said. “I was like, ‘What? What happened?’ ”
The 6-foot-1, 211-pound Watkins has 153 career receptions, 17 for touchdowns, and has averaged 16.1 yards per catch.
His presence in the lineup should give receivers and tight ends more room to operate. And provide Goff with a legitimate target for longer passes.
“He’s a guy who can stretch the field,” Goff said. “I think that’s what we get from him, obviously right away. … He seems like a really determined guy and excited about a fresh start.”
Building chemistry quickly with Watkins will not be an issue, Goff said.
“It’ll take a couple days,” he said.
The Rams receiving corps now includes Watkins, Tavon Austin, Robert Woods, Pharoh Cooper, Mike Thomas, rookies Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds, Nelson Spruce and Paul McRoberts, among others.
With Austin still sidelined because of a hamstring injury, Watkins, Woods and Kupp are the projected starters.
“I can’t wait to get on the field with him,” Kupp said of Watkins. “He’s an incredible athlete, incredible football player.
“The mix of receivers we have in the room is awesome and there’s competition, but it’s healthy competition.”
Despite averaging only 9.1 yards per catch in four NFL seasons, Austin had been projected as a possible vertical threat. Austin, who received a $42-million extension before last season, did not catch passes during offseason workouts while recovering from wrist surgery. He has been sidelined nearly all of training camp because of a hamstring injury suffered on Aug. 1.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke walks on the field before a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signs autographs for fans before a preseason game against the Rams at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
The Rams take the field before a preseason game against the Cowboys at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
The Rams take the field for a game against the Dallas Cowboys at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Rams quarterback Jerad Goff calls out a play during a preseason game agains the Cowboys at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Rams running back Todd Gurley carries the ball during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Cowboys at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Rams coach Sean McVay looks on during a preseason game against the Cowboys at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Rams quarterback Jerad Goff passes to Cooper Kupp during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Cowboys at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Rams receiver Robert Woods fumbles the ball near the goal line. The loose ball would be picked up for a score by rookie receiver Cooper Kupp.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Rookie receiver Cooper Kupp smiles after recovering a fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Cowboys at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Cowboys receiver Lance Lenior is hit by Rams tight end Temarrick Hemingway on a kick return during the first quarter of a preseason game at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Rams tight end Tyler Higbee gets tripped up by Cowboys defensive back Duke Thomas during the first quarter of a preseason game at the Coliseum.(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Austin will not practice for at least another week, McVay said.
“Ideally, I’d like to say Tavon will get a chance to play in the preseason, but the goal and the main thing we have in mind is making sure he’s ready for” the Sept. 10 season opener against the Indianapolis Colts, McVay said.
McVay has continuously praised Austin’s work ethic and commitment during the rehabilitation process. But his absence has created a challenge for McVay and other coaches as they prepare their scheme for the regular season.
“It does make it a little more difficult because you certainly have plans for a player like him,” McVay said. “He’s still a part of our plans, but to see those things come to fruition on the practice field has been a little bit more difficult for us to envision just based on him not being available.”
Running back Todd Gurley will be among the starters who will get progressively more work as the preseason continues, McVay said. … Running back Lance Dunbar, signed in the offseason to be Gurley’s backup, remains on the physically unable to perform list because of a knee injury. “It doesn’t look like there’s any resolution to that in the near future,” McVay said. … Running back Justin Davis, who rushed for a game-high 70 yards, and linebacker Cassanova McKinzy were among the standouts against the Cowboys, McVay said…. Rob Havenstein, who last week switched from right guard to right tackle — where he started the last two seasons — will remain at tackle, McVay said. Jamon Brown will play guard.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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