Two days after a meaningless defeat in the preseason opener at Baltimore, Sean McVay showed a bit of an edge.
The Rams’ coach, who shielded starters from injury by not playing them against the Ravens, was disappointed that reserve cornerback Kevin Peterson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the loss and was placed on injured reserve Saturday. And McVay could not be encouraged by news that tight end Gerald Everett will remain sidelined for at least another week because of a shoulder injury suffered during the first week of training camp.
But McVay was irked by his team’s effort at UC Irvine in first practice since returning home at about 4 a.m. on Friday. Afterward, he gathered the players at the end of the field and delivered a message.
“We’ve got to have better urgency from the start — that’s just the bottom line,” he told reporters. “We can say what we want about when we got back, but however you want to cut it, we’ve got to be better than that.”
Saturday’s workout was the first since Tuesday, when the Rams held the second of two joint practices with the Ravens. The Rams had a walkthrough Wednesday and then gave an uninspired effort in a 33-7 loss Thursday night.
Only two of 22 starters played in the game, so Saturday’s no-pads practice was their first in days. McVay said several veterans spoke at the end of the ragged workout.
“We’re just all kind of communicating clearly, open and honest with each other about it,” McVay said.
Safety Lamarcus Joyner went full speed throughout the practice and intercepted a pass by Jared Goff.
“I just appreciate how coach McVay handles the veterans here,” said Joyner, a fifth-year pro who will earn nearly $11.3 million this season playing under the franchise tag. “And I think the way you repay a coach that takes care of your body, takes care of your mind and takes care of your spirit, is when you come out there, be ready to go make plays.
“Do what they expect you to do so they can continue to treat you like men. That’s my way of showing appreciation.”
Veteran receiver Robert Woods said McVay stressed not going through the motions.
“We were flying around and making plays but he wants us to experience those game-like reps being loud and vocal and having that energy, that pop,” Woods said.
McVay appears intent on continuing to keep starters out of harm’s way during preseason games. He said he expected to “finalize” plans by Sunday for Saturday’s game against Oakland at the Coliseum.
He also expects a better effort on the practice field.
“We hope to have some more juice,” he said.
Getting his reps
Offensive lineman Jamon Brown is suspended for the first two games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. But he is eligible to play in preseason games, and he started at right guard against the Ravens.
He said it was good to be back in a game but found it a bit different without fellow starters Andrew Whitworth, Rodger Saffold, John Sullivan and Rob Havenstein out there.
“My approach is the same,” he said. “I’m trying to get as much momentum as I can.”
Brown, a fourth-year pro, was the most experienced player on the offensive line. He could be again Saturday against the Raiders.
“I see myself as a leader anyway, so it’s not something that I shy away from,” he said. “I just try to make those [younger] guys feel comfortable and that we’re on the same page.”
Peterson played as a reserve last season but started the regular-season finale against San Francisco and intercepted two passes.
“He’s a guy that’s continued to progress,” McVay said. “He’s one of those guys that seems like he’s actively always getting his hands on the ball in practice.”
Peterson was competing for a spot in a cornerback group that includes starters Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman and Sam Shields, Troy Hill and Dominique Hatfield.
Everett watched part of practice from the sideline, his left arm in a sling.
General manager Les Snead said in Baltimore that the Rams and Aaron Donald’s agents were “in the same ZIP code, area code, ballpark” regarding a new contract.
McVay said Saturday: “There’s increased dialogue…. I think there’s a level of urgency that’s being displayed from us.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein