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Rams

New Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh likes practice and its benefits

Proven performance earns some privileges.

In a nod to a new star player’s offseason regimen, Rams coach Sean McVay afforded defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh plenty of leeway when voluntary workouts began last month.

Suh spent time in home-state Oregon getting fit. McVay said the five-time Pro Bowl player also checked in at the Rams’ Thousand Oaks facility to work with strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath, who guided Suh during stints with the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins.

Suh was the on field last week when the Rams began organized-team activity workouts, and he appeared comfortable Tuesday when they started Week 2.

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“The one thing I won’t miss is practice — I pride myself on being there,” he said after a two-hour workout. “Understanding what we have to do and to play this game, you’ve got to have your teammates and they have to have you.”

The Rams are not expected to see all members of their star-studded defensive line in place until probably training camp.

Aaron Donald, the reigning defensive player of the year, remains absent from OTA workouts for the second year in a row because of an ongoing contract dispute.

Los Angeles Rams’ Ndamukong Suh puts on his helmet for practice at the NFL football team’s training
Rams’ Ndamukong Suh puts on his helmet for practice at the team’s training camp in Thousand Oaks on Tuesday.
(Michael Owen Baker / Associated Press )

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Suh, who signed with the Rams as a free agent in March, has been leaning on veteran lineman Michael Brockers and others to help him assimilate into Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.

Suh does not foresee any problems eventually melding with Donald, who did not report last season until the eve of the season opener. Donald recorded 11 sacks in 14 games.

“I don’t think there was a problem last year when he missed,” Suh noted. “I don’t think there will be a problem this year. ... I don’t think it will be an issue by any means.

“He’s a great player and I look forward to him coming back.”

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Suh signed with the Rams after five seasons with the Detroit Lions and three with the Miami Dolphins.

He has 51½ career sacks, including 4½ in 2017.

McVay has watched Suh in four full-squad workouts.

“You see the movement, you see the size and strength, but he’s also smart enough to know how to practice the right way,” McVay said, noting that OTAs are not the time when coaches are “letting guys loose.”

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Suh said he has made an “easy transition” to Southern California and to Phillips’ defense.

“It’s a good situation to have a mind like that around you,” Suh said.

Brockers said it has been “fun” working with Suh, and “informative” for his new teammate.

“He’s just trying to find where he fits in this defense,” Brockers said, “and I think he’s jelling in perfectly.”

The real measure will come when Donald returns.

Last year, he reported for a mandatory minicamp to avoid a fine but did not participate in drills.

“Hopefully, we get to a point where we pay him and he’s back with the team,” Brockers said, adding, “Not really worried about if he’s working out or if he misses us — I know he does.

“I know he really wants to be out here.”

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Etc.

Receiver Brandin Cooks did not participate in drills because of groin soreness, McVay said. … Cornerback Aqib Talib did not attend practice, but McVay said it was an excused absence because of a prior commitment. ... Defensive lineman Morgan Fox, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, was a “big loss for us based on some of the projections we had and plans in mind,” McVay said. Fox was injured in a non-contact drill while attempting to avoid running into quarterback Jared Goff, McVay said. … Goff connected with receiver Cooper Kupp for a touchdown during 11-on-11 drills. … Linebacker Bryce Hager broke up what appeared to be a certain touchdown pass to running back Todd Gurley. … Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman broke up a third-down, short-yardage pass to Kupp at the goal line.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein


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