Rams rookies, youngsters turn heads in training camp opener
Jared Goff lofted a long pass along the right sideline, and the ball settled into the hands of long-striding wide receiver Josh Reynolds.
The Rams’ fifth-year quarterback also connected with rookie receiver Van Jefferson on several impressive plays.
Those were a few of the highlights Tuesday during the Rams’ first practice in pads, another step toward their Sept. 13 season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
“It was certainly good to hear those pads pop a little bit,” coach Sean McVay said during a videoconference after the team’s first workout that was open to reporters. “But the guys were smart about doing it the right way, and that’s exactly how we want it.”
McVay had been waiting for months to conduct a full-speed practice. The COVID-19 pandemic dashed his plans for offseason workouts, and NFL teams were limited to conditioning drills and walk-throughs for the first two weeks of training camp.
The Rams are practicing in earnest for the 2020 NFL season, and there are plenty of position battles for coach Sean McVay to judge in the weeks ahead.
The Rams did not tackle Tuesday, but otherwise there were no restrictions.
Rookie running back Cam Akers shared carries with Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson as McVay continues to formulate how he will make up for the void left by the release of Todd Gurley in March.
“Being out there, especially on offense being able to run the ball the way we did … with real pads and being able to really move some things up front, it was really good,” Goff said.
As the Rams’ longest-tenured defensive player, tackle Michael Brockers is going through his ninth training camp with the team that selected him 14th overall in the 2012 NFL draft.
But on Tuesday, Brockers thought back to his NFL infancy.
“I felt like a baby in water a little bit, just putting these pads on for the first time in a couple of months,” he said during a videoconference.
Brockers, star tackle Aaron Donald and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey looked comfortable in first-year defensive coordinator Brandon Staley’s 3-4 hybrid scheme.
Younger defensive players made standout plays.
Rookie safety Terrell Burgess made Goff pay for his one major error. The third-round selection from Utah picked off an underthrown deep pass intended for wide receiver Robert Woods.
Earlier, third-year cornerback Darious Williams intercepted a pass by backup quarterback John Wolford.
HBO docuseries “Hard Knocks” had already taken on a new challenge by highlighting two teams this season — the L.A. Chargers and L.A. Rams. Then came COVID-19.
Rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis and rookie safety Jordan Fuller also have performed well, McVay said.
“When you look at those guys that we’re really counting on to contribute from the draft class, I’ve been really pleased,” McVay said. “They’ve got a long way to go, but they’re certainly doing things the right way.”
The Rams have less than four weeks before they open the season against the Cowboys at SoFi Stadium on “Sunday Night Football.”
Brockers said practices and preparation for the season at the team facility have provided players with a break from pandemic-related news.
“When you’re in here, we talk about nothing but ball,” he said, “and I think that helps a lot of these players get their mind off of what’s really out there and it kind of simplifies it for us.”
Second-year safety Taylor Rapp did not practice because of what McVay described as “a little” knee issue. Outside linebacker Justin Lawler sat out because of a foot injury, McVay said…. The Rams practice Wednesday. They will have a day off Thursday.
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