Several long passes in the season opener against the Oakland Raiders resulted in near misses. Two produced pass-interference penalties against defenders.
So Rams receiver Brandin Cooks was happy to haul in a 57-yard pass from quarterback Jared Goff in last week’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Cooks and other Rams receivers are eager for Goff to take more deep shots Sunday against the Chargers at the Coliseum.
“To get a connection going is always going to be good,” Cooks said Friday of his catch against the Cardinals. “Just continue to work on it. Just let it come naturally. Don’t force it, I think, is the key thing about it.”
Robert Woods, who had a 96-yard touchdown pass play last season, nearly caught two long passes against the Raiders. He did not get any deep-ball opportunities against the Cardinals.
“It’s coming,” Woods said. “I know it’s a long season. I know we’ll connect, and we’ll take plenty of more shots.”
Cooper Kupp also is capable of coming through on longer routes, coach Sean McVay said.
Kupp’s longest play as a rookie in 2017 covered 64 yards. His longest play this season was for 29 yards.
“He’s had some opportunities and he’s made plays,” McVay said, adding, “We really have all of our receivers that can be the top shelf of some of our [long] throws and different things like that.
“We feel good about all those guys being able to do that.”
Before the season, McVay spoke of the need for receivers to develop “aggressive hands” on passes that were not close to their bodies.
Woods provided a textbook example against the Cardinals on a catch along the left sideline.
He added receivers coach Eric Yarber “said he put it on his teaching tape for aggressive hands.”
Cooks made several difficult catches in the middle of the field.
“The better you can catch the ball outside your radius, the more chances you got,” Cooks said. “It’s an imperfect game, and the quarterback has a lot going on back there, so if it’s in your vicinity, just do your best to go get it.”
It will be difficult for JoJo Natson to improve on his debut performance for the Rams, but the kick returner is prepared to do so against the Chargers.
The 5-foot-7, 153-pound Natson, signed after Pharoh Cooper injured his left ankle, returned a punt 60 yards and handled five others without error against the Cardinals.
“I’m just trying to flip the field,” Natson said. “Take it one play at a time, go out and be me.”
Jamon Brown, back from a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, had a good week of practice, McVay said.
Austin Blythe will continue to start at right guard.
Brown and Blythe both can play the right and left guard spots. Blythe also has played center.
Linebacker Mark Barron (Achilles tendon) did not practice. He is listed as doubtful and is expected to remain sidelined. Michael Brockers (shoulder) and center John Sullivan (ankle) were full participants and both are expected to start Sunday…. The Rams attempted and converted three two-point conversions last week after kicker Greg Zuerlein injured his groin during warmups. The Rams signed Sam Ficken to take Zuerlein’s spot, but McVay said a decision to go for two points after touchdowns would be dictated by the “flow” of the game. “You do feel good about Sam,” McVay said, before jokingly adding, “Hopefully, we don’t get in a situation where he gets injured right before the game.”
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