Rams’ Sam Shields back in full pads for first time since 2016 concussion
The last time Sam Shields wore a full uniform was Sept. 11, 2016, the day he suffered a concussion that kept him out of the NFL for nearly two seasons.
Shields signed with the Rams during the offseason, and on Sunday the cornerback was back in full pads for the first time since the Green Bay Packers’ season opener two years ago.
“It was a lot … for the first time but it felt good to be back in it, man,” Shields said, adding, “Mentally, especially, I’m definitely working on that.
“But it was a start, I can say that.”
Shields, 30, intercepted 18 passes in six-plus seasons with the Packers. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2014.
But the concussion Shields suffered in a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars two years ago was the fourth known concussion of his pro career.
Shields did not know if he would return to football. But after working through a rehabilitation program at UCLA, he decided to resume his career.
He said Saturday that he was not dissuaded by family or friends. It was his decision to have his agent contact NFL teams after he felt no ill effects from training.
“I started working out for like three weeks and I got no headaches,” he said. “I slept well and was eating well so I said, ‘OK, I went through all these tests and everything and passed them.
“Let’s go give it a try.”
Shields is part of a secondary that includes Pro Bowl picks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters and slot-corner Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Teammates nicknamed him “Ball-skill Shields,” in part for his “catlike movements,” Peters said.
“He’s just getting back into the groove of everything, and you can see why he was making his plays,” Peters said.
Talib and Peters were high-profile offseason acquisitions via trade, but coach Sean McVay also put Shields in the “elite” class.
“People forget what a productive player Sam’s been in this league,” McVay said, adding, “He’s an elite-type player with elite skills. Really happy for him, and we’re hoping that he’s able to stay healthy.”
The Rams did not tackle during Sunday’s first full-pads practice, so Shields still has not engaged in game-speed contact.
But he said this week that he was not worried or scared.
“You have got to be mentally strong,” he said. “No way I can have those [fearful] thoughts. You have to keep pushing on.”
On Sunday, he acknowledged that it was “hard mentally for anybody to come back and put these pads on” after sitting out so long.
“I’m just happy to be here with my brothers,” he said. “That’s the most important part.”
Linebacker Matt Longacre passed a test in his first full-pads workout since undergoing season-ending back surgery last December.
Longacre said he participated in six plays.
“You always have that fear that you’re getting back too early, but it was awesome,” he said.
Longacre played well as a backup the last few seasons. He is expected to compete for a starting role on the outside opposite rookie Samson Ebukam.
Center John Sullivan left the workout because of what appeared to be an arm injury. “I think he’s going to be OK,” McVay said. ... Backup quarterback Sean Mannion was excused from practice because his wife is in the final stages of pregnancy, a team spokesman said. … Quarterback Jared Goff connected with receiver Mike Thomas for a touchdown during a red-zone drill. Goff also had impressive completions to receiver Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp during a two-minute drill. …. Cornerback Kevin Peterson intercepted a pass by Brandon Allen and returned it for a touchdown. Allen passed for several touchdowns, including one to tight end Gerald Everett. …. The Rams have video boards next to their practice fields. “If you think about how you learn, that immediate feedback that you can provide and being able to look at it right away as opposed to waiting a couple hours to go watch the film,” McVay said. “That’s really the intent of it, for a teaching tool. That’s something that I’ve got to get more comfortable remembering that it’s out here.”… McVay said there was “nothing new” regarding Aaron Donald, who remains absent because of a contract dispute. “No news,” he said. “Unless I go inside and Twitter is blowing up my phone.” Asked if he was on Twitter with a secret account, he said, “I don’t have a burner account.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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