This time around, Day 1 of OTAs won’t feel like starting over for the Rams
Their preparation began in April, before the start of the Rams’ voluntary offseason program.
Quarterback Jared Goff and other players gathered for workouts and throwing sessions to run plays that helped them become the NFL’s top-scoring team in 2017.
“It gives us an advantage just to come in already knowing some of the plays,” receiver Robert Woods said at the time, “so when we do get to OTAs it’s not like Day 1 for us.
“We’re already putting in the work. We already have a rhythm down. So we’re not starting back at ground zero.”
After five weeks of individual and position-group work, the Rams’ offense and remade defense will finally come together for full-team drills.
Monday marks the start of Phase 3 of the offseason program: organized team activities. The 10 OTA workouts, conducted over three weeks, cannot include live contact. But the offense and defense can participate in 11-on-11 situations.
It will be the first chance for second-year coach Sean McVay and assistants in new roles to begin tinkering.
And special teams coordinator John Fassel can continue to assess which rookies and undrafted free agents might break through and find a role.
The only major change in the offense is loss of receiver Sammy Watkins and the addition of Brandin Cooks, acquired in an April trade with the New England Patriots that cost the Rams their first-round draft pick.
Cooks, a 1,000-yard receiver in three of his four NFL seasons, is expected to provide Goff with deep-threat capability. His presence for OTA’s should help Goff develop timing on longer routes, something the quarterback was unable to do with Watkins at this time last year because Watkins was not acquired until training camp.
Watkins now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. Tavon Austin, who never developed as a vertical threat, was traded last month to the Dallas Cowboys.
Goff blossomed last season under the coaching triumvirate of McVay, former offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and former quarterbacks coach Greg Olson.
Now he is being tutored by a reconfigured staff.
Shane Waldron, the tight ends coach in 2017, is the pass-game coordinator. Zac Taylor, assistant receivers coach last season, is the quarterbacks coach. Jedd Fisch, UCLA’s offensive coordinator in 2017, is a senior offensive assistant.
Four of the Rams’ 11 draft picks play on offense, including running back John Kelly and linemen Joseph Noteboom, Brian Allen and Jamil Denby.
Goff and the offense will be looking across the line of scrimmage at some new faces.
Defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, linebacker Ramik Wilson and cornerbacks Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Sam Shields have been added to a unit that ranked 19th in the NFL last season.
Reigning NFL defensive player of the year Aaron Donald is expected to remain absent because of an ongoing contract dispute. Donald, though, might repeat what he did last year, when to avoid a fine he attended but did not fully participate in a mandatory minicamp.
The draft class included linebackers Micah Kiser, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Trevon Young and Travin Howard and linemen John Franklin-Myers, Sebastian Joseph and Justin Lawler.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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