The glistening new Range Rover rolled into a parking lot at UC Irvine on Monday, the driver behind tinted windows taking his time to find a parking spot.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff emerged from the SUV and was greeted by a battalion of cameras.
“We’ve got all the pieces we need,” he told reporters as team personnel waited for rookies and other quarterbacks to report for training camp. “We just need to put it together.”
About an hour later, rookie offensive lineman Brian Allen quietly checked in without fanfare.
Goff and Allen could be closely tied when workouts begin Thursday.
With starting right guard Jamon Brown suspended by the NFL for the first two games, Allen could compete with Austin Blythe and perhaps Aaron Neary to start the Sept. 10 opener against the Oakland Raiders.
Allen played center and guard at Michigan State before the Rams selected him in the fourth round of the draft. Now he could be charged with protecting Goff and paving the way for running back Todd Gurley in his first game.
“It’s unfortunate that it happened,” Allen said of Brown’s suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. “We’re all with him, but for those first two games somebody’s going to have to play right guard.
“Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do.”
Rookies reported Monday, and veterans will arrive Tuesday and Wednesday in advance of the first workout under second-year coach Sean McVay, who guided the Rams to the NFC West title last season.
McVay and general manager Les Snead are expected to address Donald’s situation during a news conference Tuesday.
Goff said that Donald’s situation would not be a distraction.
“It wasn’t last year,” he said. “We dealt with it last year, and I wish the best for him. Hope that gets resolved, but they’re dealing with it and hopefully it gets resolved soon.”
The Rams added several veteran stars in the offseason, cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and receiver Brandin Cooks among them. The influx of experience seemingly leaves little room for first-year players to compete for starting roles on anything other than special teams.
But Allen and defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day said they were ready to compete.
“I’m more excited than nervous,” said Joseph-Day, a sixth-round pick. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was little so I’m just really excited to use this opportunity and show the coaches what I can do.”
Other rookies such as linebackers Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Micah Kiser and offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom also could be in the mix for significant roles.
Allen showed his versatility during organized team activities and minicamp, playing center and both guard spots.
Allen said that he has learned from observing and practicing alongside veteran linemen such as Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan, and was looking forward to adding depth to the line.
Goff, on what he wants to improve during training camp: “Everything — nothing in particular. Just to continue to grow, continue to get better. Continue to get the ball in the playmakers’ hands and let them run with it, distribute. I don’t know, take less sacks, get rid of the ball.” … Goff said the Rams would handle the NFL’s national anthem controversy internally and that it would not be a distraction. “Not for us, no, I don’t think so. I think we proved last year that it wasn’t a distraction for us. We’ve got a really good group of mature guys and guys that are driven and have one goal in mind. I think there are many distractions, that could be one of them, but we won’t allow it to be.”… Defensive lineman Morgan Fox, recovering from knee surgery, was among the players who reported Monday.
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