Rams’ defensive linemen respond to Coach Jeff Fisher’s challenge

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald takes the field for a workout July 30.
(Ryan Kang / Associated Press)

The Rams’ defensive line is supposed to be the team’s strength, a cornerstone for a unit that must be stout as the offense seeks to develop an identity beyond running back Todd Gurley.

So defensive tackle Aaron Donald took Coach Jeff Fisher’s words as a challenge.

After the Rams’ exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys, Fisher said his team was not ready to play run defense and that it would be a focus of attention this week in practice.

“It’s a challenge to us,” Donald said after Tuesday’s workout. “We have to improve our game.

“We had mistakes, but that’s part of the game. . . . That’s just going to motivate us to work harder.”


Donald, a two-time Pro Bowl player, leads a line that features tackle Michael Brockers and ends William Hayes and Robert Quinn.

Quinn was absent from practice Tuesday because he was in Brazil to watch his sister compete in the Olympics, Fisher said.

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn attends Kentucky and won the NCAA 100-meter hurdles title. She is competing for Puerto Rico in the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Fisher said Quinn approached him during the summer about the possibility of leaving camp for the Olympics.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Fisher said, adding, “It’s a really a neat thing for Rob and his family. It’s the right thing to do to let him go down there.”

Quinn, a Pro Bowl pick in 2013 and 2014, is coming off back surgery and did not play against the Cowboys. But Fisher said he expected Quinn would play on Saturday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, “unless he has some flight issues.”

Donald said he was looking forward to playing the Chiefs after feeling “a little rusty” against the Cowboys.

“The speed of the game was a little different, but that’s part of the preseason — to get yourself ready,” he said. “It’s not going to be perfect. You want room for improvement, so that’s a good thing.”

Learning curve

Quarterback Jared Goff had a bit of a rough day.

The rookie had a pass intercepted by defensive back Marcus Roberson during seven-on-seven drills. Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner also picked off a pass during a team drill but the play appeared to have ended before the pass was thrown.

Goff also had a few snap-exchange challenges and tripped and fell.

“He had a couple issues out here today that he learns from,” Fisher said.

Most of Goff’s work came with the second-team offense. He did take one first-team series, and Fisher has said it was “quite likely” he would take first-team snaps against the Chiefs.

Making a run

Gurley is the star running back, Benny Cunningham his backup.

With Tre Mason absent from camp and his status in limbo, Malcolm Brown, Aaron Green and Terrence Magee are competing for roles.

Brown, a second-year pro from Texas, rushed for a team-best 66 yards in eight carries against the Cowboys.

“It’s only one game,” he said, “so I just have to stay consistent with it.”

The 5-foot-11, 224-pound Brown aims to contribute carrying and catching the ball, in pass protection and on special teams.

His said his confidence has grown since his rookie season.

“It’s crazy what confidence can do,” he said. “I feel like confidence is something I definitely have now as opposed to last year.”

Quick hits

Linebacker Mark Barron and safety Maurice Alexander did not practice. Fisher said they were held out to give them a day off. “Nothing to be concerned with,” he said. Offensive tackle Rob Havenstein remains sidelined because of a foot injury. Fisher said “we’re just waiting.” . . . . Rookie receiver Michael Thomas, who has dropped several passes during camp, caught a long touchdown pass from quarterback Case Keenum. . . . Cornerback E.J. Gaines, sidelined last week because of a hamstring issue, took a few snaps with the first-team defense and had good coverage on a deep sideline pass to Kenny Britt that fell incomplete. . . . Tight end Temarrick Hemingway made several nice catches for the second day in a row. . . . The Rams practice Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Running backs and wide receivers will sign autographs afterward.