The road’s been good to Sean McVay’s Rams. Now they’re calling on the Bengals in London
The Rams conducted a walk-through Friday on a soft, rain-soaked field at their bucolic hotel just west of London. With its sprawling grounds, meandering gardens and grass tennis courts, the place has the feel of a stately English manor — Touchdownton Abbey, if you will.
The Rams stayed in Atlanta this week after beating the Falcons there Sunday. They left Thursday night and arrived in London on Friday morning.
Clearly, the Rams feel at home even when they’re far from Los Angeles. With Sean McVay as coach, they are 6-0 in games in the Eastern time zone, and 1-0 in London.
“I think the guys just handle it really well,” said McVay, whose team plays the winless Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. “We’re kind of used to traveling, even going back to a couple of years ago. Being on the road, last week when the lights went out on our hotel [in Atlanta] on Saturday night, you kind of say, ‘Hey, this feels like something we’re used to handling.’
“The guys just seamlessly adjust and adapt, and it’s about getting ready for a football game. Doesn’t really matter where.”
In 2017, McVay’s first season, the Rams rolled over the Arizona Cardinals, 33-0, at Twickenham Stadium.
Todd Gurley, who faces lowly Bengals run defense in Week 8, hasn’t had 100 rushing yards in a game since a NFC playoff win over Dallas last January.
“That was certainly a positive experience for us,” said McVay, whose team had stayed over in Jacksonville, Fla., in the days following a victory over the Jaguars. “We used a very similar format. We stayed in Jacksonville before; we stayed in Atlanta this past time. Came out the same time, kind of kept a very similar schedule. We’re hopeful for a very similar result.”
Ramsey up to speed
A little more than a week after he was acquired in a trade with the Jaguars, All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey continues to make strides. Safety Eric Weddle said Ramsey likely will be even better than he was in his debut, when he did a solid job of putting the clamps on Falcons star receiver Julio Jones.
“He’s just getting more comfortable in different coverages and different techniques,” Weddle said. “A guy that’s played a certain defense and certain techniques his entire career, and then he comes here and is asked to do some different things, it takes a little bit of time. But he’s so fluid, he’s so explosive, and he works on it.
“Certain techniques that we’re teaching here that complement how good of a press corner he is, it’s only going to make him better. He’s doing a great job. Just an unbelievable teammate.”
The Rams had five sacks in their 37-10 victory over the Falcons, and Ramsey played a significant role because his blanketing coverage denied quarterback Matt Ryan chances to get rid of the ball as quickly.
“He was the same guy as the last couple of years, you know, dominate, lock guys down, give an opportunity for the defensive line to rush the passer,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “To have him on defense on the back end, with the guys we’ve already got, is a big plus for us up front. Quarterbacks second-guess themselves and give us more opportunities to get to the passer.”
Cornerback Troy Hill, who has started the last two games in place of injured Aqib Talib, did not practice early in the week because of a hamstring injury. McVay said Thursday that he expected Hill would play, but on Friday Hill was limited and is listed as questionable for Sunday. If Hill sits out, Darious Williams would start in his place.
It would be the second consecutive start for Williams, an undrafted free agent the Rams claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens last October.
Former Rams assistant Zac Taylor, 36, is winless as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, but feels improvement is obvious except on their record.
With Ramsey coming off the bench last week, Williams played 19 snaps on defense and 22 on special teams. He scored the Rams’ final touchdown when Troy Reeder forced a fumble on a punt return and Williams recovered the ball in the end zone.
Linebacker Bryce Hager did not practice because of a lingering shoulder injury and will not play Sunday. Reeder will continue to start at inside linebacker. McVay said the Rams were “hopeful” that linebacker Clay Matthews (broken jaw) would return after next week’s open date. After the Rams play the Bengals, they will be off for a week and then return to prepare for a Nov. 10 game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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