A day after coping with the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting that occurred not far from their Thousand Oaks training facility, the Rams on Friday canceled practice to allow players, coaches and staff to deal with evacuations caused by wildfires in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
“We just felt like, most importantly, was for the guys to be with their families, their wives, their kids and kind of be that support structure and do things the right way and not have them come in, be totally distracted, like I know I would be if I was in their role,” coach Sean McVay said during a teleconference.
Portions of Thousand Oaks, nearby Westlake Village, Calabasas and Malibu were among the areas under mandatory evacuation orders Thursday night and Friday because of fires. About 45 people in the Rams organization, including about 20 players and coaches, were displaced.
“To my knowledge, nobody’s house has actually caught fire or anything like that,” said McVay, working Friday from his San Fernando Valley home. “It’s still a scary thing and extremely unfortunate that they’re having to go through this.”
The Rams are preparing for Sunday’s NFC West game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Coliseum.
The Rams will have morning meetings at a Los Angeles hotel Saturday and then have a short practice at USC, McVay said. He said the format was similar in some ways to their approach for a Week 4 Thursday night game against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Rams played the Seahawks on Oct. 7, so McVay said familiarity with the opponent also worked in the Rams’ favor.
“It hasn’t been too long,” he said.
McVay said he went to bed Thursday unaware that so many players and coaches would be evacuated. He checked his phone in the wee hours of Friday morning and realized what was developing when he saw defensive line coach Bill Johnson and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on a coaches’ text-message chain at 3 a.m.
“I said, ‘There's something going on because those guys are probably usually sawing logs at that time,’ ” McVay said. “So, when they had to leave their places, I knew there was a chance that some things were not going to work out in our favor.”
McVay, though, expressed confidence that his team would be ready for the Seahawks.
“It’ll be a seamless adjustment and we’ll be ready to go on Sunday,” he said.
In the years before he left USC to coach the Seahawks, Pete Carroll made a recruiting stop in Carson to visit Robert Woods at his family’s home.
The Trojans had produced outstanding college receivers such as Mike Williams and Steve Smith.
“I thought he could be the most complete guy that we had recruited,” Carroll said of Woods this week.
Woods also recalled the visit.
“The dream was to go to college and play for Pete Carroll and continue the tradition,” Woods said. “When he left, I was like up in the air on what schools, and opened up my mind for probably about an hour.”
Woods signed with USC and became an All-American.
This season, his sixth in the NFL, Woods has 51 receptions for 743 yards and three touchdowns.
“He does everything,” Carroll said. “He plays with great tenacity, he’s tough, he’s got speed to get down the field, he can make tough plays, he can get open in small areas.