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Rams’ DeSean Jackson, Sony Michel ready to step into fast lane against Buccaneers

Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson warms up before a game.
Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson hopes to get his hands on the football Sunday against Tampa Bay.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Rams running back Sony Michel is on track for a big opportunity Sunday against the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Will receiver DeSean Jackson finally enjoy a similar profile?

Those situations continued to evolve for coach Sean McVay on Thursday as his team prepared for Sunday’s game at SoFi Stadium.

With Darrell Henderson out for the second consecutive day because of a rib injury, Michel almost certainly will start for the Rams for the first time. Michel, acquired in a late-August trade with the New England Patriots, rushed for 46 yards in 10 carries during the decisive fourth quarter of a 27-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday.

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“My job is to try and learn as fast as I can in a short amount of time,” Michel said after practice, “and if my number is called on Sunday, then I’ll be ready to go.”

Jackson said he would do the same.

Bucs coach Bruce Arians says he has enjoyed watching Matthew Stafford throw for years, while Stafford complimented Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady ahead of their Sunday showdown.

The Rams signed Jackson to provide a deep threat for new quarterback Matthew Stafford, but through two games McVay has given the 14th-year pro only two opportunities to catch a pass.

“Still a little early,” Jackson said Thursday, “so just patiently waiting. Hopefully, this week is the week that I’ll be unleashed.”

Sunday’s game provides a grand stage for McVay to possibly work Jackson into a receiver rotation that includes Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson. The three combined for five touchdowns in victories over the Chicago Bears and the Colts.

Jackson caught two passes on two targets against the Bears. Against the Colts, he was in for only three plays and was not targeted. Jackson has played in 162 regular-season games. The game against the Colts marked the second time he was not targeted and only the third time he did not catch a pass, according to profootballreference.com.

 Rams running back Sony Michel (25) runs past Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II (23).
With Darrell Henderson hurting, it appears Sony Michel (25) will make his first start as a Rams running back against Tampa Bay on Sunday. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry in the fourth quarter against the Colts.
(Zach Bolinger / Associated Press
)

On Monday, McVay blamed himself for not utilizing Jackson more and proclaimed he would find a way to get the speedster involved in the offense.

“We brought him here to impact and influence the game and that’s something that’s going to be reflected moving forward,” McVay said.

Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has averaged 17.4 yards per catch throughout his career, best among active players. But he has yet to get many opportunities with the Rams.

“I was a little frustrated, I mean being a playmaker and being someone who’s had a lot of success in this league,” Jackson said. “I just want to just do what they brought me here to do which is help the team win.

“The first two games, we didn’t really need it. But there’s going to be games where things are going to be needed. I still feel like I can play at a high level, and I know I can bring some special things to this team.”

Jackson played for Washington in 2014 through 2016 when McVay was the offensive coordinator. That relationship, and the chance to play for a winning team in his hometown Los Angeles, stirred Jackson’ excitement about their reunion with the Rams. He said McVay has been communicative about the situation.

The Rams believe veteran receiver DeSean Jackson still has the world-class speed that made him a coveted recruit out of Long Beach Poly 17 years ago.

“The respect level between me and him is there,” he said. “No bad blood. It’s just trying to figure out how we can make it all work.”

Jackson, who played for Tampa Bay in 2017 and 2018, remains optimistic that McVay will provide him with opportunities against the Buccaneers and future opponents.

“This week you’ll see a little more action from me,” he said. “The biggest thing is, as long as we’re winning, we’re happy and everybody is contributing and doing what they can, that’s all that really matters.

“I just want to win and contribute the best way I can.”

Etc.

Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said, “I’m not pleased with where we’re at in certain instances,” but was confident the performance would improve. The Rams gave up long kickoff returns against the Bears and Colts, and the punt team botched a snap that bounced off protector Nick Scott and resulted in a touchdown by the Colts. DeCamillis said he had never seen that miscue before — and aimed not to see it again. “I’m going to remember that play for a long time, unfortunately,” he said. “My wife won’t let me forget it, that’s for damn sure.”… Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (ankle) did not practice. Tight end Jacob Harris (hip) was limited.


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