Rams’ acquisitions create buzz, but can they produce win against 49ers?
The Rams amped up their star power in the last two weeks, adding outside linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
The trade for Miller and the free-agent signing of Beckham created headlines, buzz and social media frenzy about a boom-or-bust Rams team that already boasted quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Now, perhaps, coach Sean McVay and Rams fans finally can see whether the new hires are worthy of the hype.
Miller and Beckham could make their Rams debuts Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. The “Monday Night Football” matchup is the final game for the 7-2 Rams before an open date next week.
“We’re trying to win now,” Donald, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year, said of the Rams’ aggressiveness pursuing star talent. “That’s what it’s about.
“When you see them making moves like this, bringing players and high-talent players … it’s like sky’s the limit.”
Odell Beckham Jr. says he and Robert Woods were excited about the possibility of playing together on the Rams before a torn ACL ended Woods’ season.
Miller, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, reported to the Rams on Nov. 2 after his trade from the Denver Broncos. He has been nursing an ankle sprain suffered before the trade and did not play in the Rams’ 28-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 7. McVay previously acknowledged possibly holding out Miller until a road game Nov. 28 against the Green Bay Packers.
But McVay said this past week that Miller could join Donald, Ramsey and edge rusher Leonard Floyd for their NFC West game against 49ers (3-5).
Miller was limited in practice and was listed as questionable.
“Unless there’s any setbacks, I expect Von to be ready to roll,” McVay said.
Beckham seemingly has no choice.
The three-time Pro Bowl player agreed to terms on a contract Thursday, arrived at the Rams’ Thousand Oaks facility Friday and learned later that night that wide receiver Robert Woods had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Any chance for a gradual on-boarding process for Beckham disappeared.
“Definitely a sense of urgency when you’re in the race right now,” Beckham said. “You got to find ways to continue to win.
After a subpar performance against the Tennessee Titans, the Rams are eager to bounce back against the rival San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.
“So, whatever I can do to help.”
In six games with the Cleveland Browns this season, Beckham caught 17 passes for 232 yards and zero touchdowns. The eighth-year pro and the Browns agreed to part ways, setting Beckham on course to join a Rams team that is regarded as a contender to play in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.
Beckham was a highlight-reel pass catcher early in his career, a player who regularly wowed with the New York Giants before he was traded to the Browns after the 2018 season.
In 2019, Beckham produced his fifth 1,000-yard receiving season. But he suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2020, and he grew disenchanted with his role this season.
Beckham is part of a position group that now includes Kupp, second-year pro Van Jefferson, rookie Ben Skowronek and J.J. Koski.
The Rams will adopt “a modified approach” with Beckham, McVay said, as he begins to absorb a playbook that requires receivers to be integral parts of the rushing attack as well as the passing game.
Robert Woods’ season-ending knee injury puts pressure on the Rams to play newly signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. against the 49ers.
The Rams have not defeated the 49ers since the 2018 season, when the Rams won their second consecutive division title, finished 13-3 and made a playoff run to the Super Bowl. Kyle Shanahan, coach of the 49ers, mentored McVay when they coached together with Washington.
Are losses to a close friend more difficult for McVay to digest?
“As a competitor, I hate to lose to anybody,” he said, adding, “If those losses ever get any easier for me, then I think I’ll probably change the way that I’m wired.
“But no, they all stink.”
Shanahan guided the 49ers to the Super Bowl in the 2019 season, but they finished 6-10 last season.
With Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr., the Rams suddenly find themselves among the top NFL teams in terms of celebrity star power. We rank the top 10.
“You’d like to win head-to-head battles, but I’d take a better record,” he said. “So, I know we beat them twice, but would always take the record over that.”
The Rams are chasing the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 37-20 on Oct. 3 at SoFi Stadium, and Arizona is 8-2 after losing 34-10 to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Though he did not have the opportunity to learn the Rams’ offense and bond with Rams teammates during training camp, Beckham said he would work quickly to get up to speed for the final eight games of the season.
“We’re all pros,” he said, “and I just have to be a pro in this situation and find ways to get acclimated and get the plays and everything down as fast as I can and do the best to help this team find ways to win.”
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