Passes were dropped. The Chargers broke up others. Penalties nullified positive plays.
“Not even close to good enough,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
But in the final sequence, a two-minute drill, quarterback Jared Goff engineered a touchdown, helping the fourth-year pro and the offense end on a positive note.
“It’s not always going to be perfect and … it certainly wasn’t,” Goff said, adding, “There’s going to be games like that where you’re not doing exactly what you want. You’re struggling.
“But at the end of the game you make it work.”
Saturday’s practice was the second of two with the Chargers, a playoff team in 2018 with designs on a Super Bowl run.
The Rams will hold two joint practices with the Oakland Raiders next week in Napa in advance of the preseason opener at Oakland.
The workouts with the Chargers and Raiders are the closest that Goff, star running back Todd Gurley, star defensive lineman Aaron Donald and others will get to game action in the preseason. McVay has made it clear that established starters and rotational players will not participate in games against the Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos and Houston Texans so that they will be ready for the Sept. 8 opener against the Carolina Panthers.
That makes work in joint practices extremely valuable, especially when the other team makes adjustments between the first and second workout as the Chargers defense did following Thursday’s practice in Costa Mesa.
Goff said he preferred the joint-practice setting over preseason games because of the “controlled environment” that enables starters to go against starters for more than a few plays. For example, Goff said, the Rams offensive line lined up against Chargers’ stars Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram much more than in a preseason game.
“Our O line got … 40-50 reps against Joey and Melvin and that defensive line,” Goff said, “whereas in a preseason game they might get five to 10.”
Unlike the offense, the Rams defense came out energetic against a Chargers offense led by quarterback Philip Rivers and back-up Tyrod Taylor.
Donald and edge-rusher Dante Fowler were among those pressuring the quarterbacks. Reserve defensive backs Dont’e Deayon, Darious Williams and Dominique Hatfield intercepted passes.
But the offense was “sluggish,” McVay said.
On the positive front, Gurley was a full participant. On his 25th birthday, Gurley took hand-offs and caught passes seemingly with no problems affecting his left knee.
Receiver Cooper Kupp also performed without incident. The third-year pro, coming off knee surgery, was held out of most drills Thursday so that McVay and the training staff could gauge the intensity of the workout before putting Kupp in potential harm’s way.
Kupp was not limited Saturday. He caught multiple passes. There was no tackling by either team, but Kupp was knocked to the ground several times and dived attempting to catch long throws by Goff.
“There wasn’t any kind of hesitation for me,” Kupp said. “I felt like free to do whatever I wanted to do and really was kind of excited about that aspect of the day -- being able to hit the ground and have to pop back up a few times.”
Goff had a pass intercepted by Chargers cornerback Michael Davis but he responded in the two-minute drill.
He completed passes to five receivers during a 10-play drive that culminated with a short touchdown run by running back Malcolm Brown. Goff completed seven of nine passes during the drive.
McVay was pleased with Goff’s finish.
“In the midst of things not going great, he finds a way to settle in, in a situation where we’ve got to have a two-minute drive to score a touchdown,” McVay said. “Made some great throws, recognized coverage, got the ball where it should have gone and really just to be able to stay that even-keeled demeanor.”
The Rams will hold their final training camp practice at Irvine on Sunday. It is expected to be a short walkthrough…. Fowler also turned 25 Saturday. After practice, cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib were on hand in front of a group of fans when Gurley and Fowler received birthday cakes.