Rams Training Camp: Day 4 – Defiant Defense Does Thier Best To Corrall Jefferson, Kupp

The defense shows its teeth. Kupp and Jefferson show off at Rams training camp.

A small scrum broke out at the 4th day of Rams training camp, between the second-team defense and offense after Demarcus Robinson hauled in his third catch of the day from Stetson Bennett. Overall, Robinson had a great day at training camp, in doing so he made some of the defensive backs look a step behind. And the defense wasn’t all too happy about it. This is something the 2023 Rams defense is going to encounter all season long.

Regardless of how talented this side of the ball becomes, they are inexperienced and that alone will create mismatches all year long. But at the very least they aren’t going to take it laying down. This little competitive dust-up was evidence of that. Once that happened McVay paused the practice and called both sides to huddle up at mid-field to re-order everyone’s mind and temperament. It was restarted shortly thereafter without a hint of ill will.

There were other less tense moments that shed light on the defense’s perspective on this season. Rookie cornerback Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson lined up against Tyler Higbee. This created a height advantage for Higbee of around nine inches. Once Higbee was near the top of his route, maybe seven yards downfield, Hodges-Tomlinson threw all his body weight at Higbee, knocking him out of bounds. Luckily for THT, the play went to the opposite side of the field. That sort of tactic is normally flagged. But that kind of ‘by any means necessary’ approach is how this squad will have to operate.

More proof came during the first team drills. On two occasions, Matthew Stafford marched down the field into the red zone, but when it came to points on the board, the defense didn’t allow a touchdown.

On a lighter note, Aaron Donald wrapped up and playfully rag-dolled Cam Akers after a couple of impressive rushing plays. One of which was a cutback that showed off some keen awareness and sheer explosiveness on Akers’ part.

Rams Training Camp Offense Notes

While the defense is doing what it can to be competitive, there were also times they looked completely outmatched. Van Jefferson and Cooper Kupp made pretty easy work out of the defense. Coach McVay praised Jefferson for his performance on the day, which included two deep throw catches. On one, he beat his defender thoroughly; the other was a well-placed pass on a deep post route. Jefferson celebrated those catches by flipping the ball into the crowd. On the first Rams fans bobbled the catch back onto the practice field. The fans were 1 for 2 on the day.

Tutu Atwell had a mixed day. He made a few nice catches and was used on every snap of the 2-minute drill that was run. He also fumbled a catch that was recovered by the defense.

Player To Watch

Robinson was just one of Bennett’s go-to receivers. Tyler Johnson, who is in his 4th season in the NFL, also had a great day. This may be the effect of putting two experienced NFL players up against a secondary mostly made up of undrafted free agents. Both received praise from McVay in his post-practice presser. Puka Nacua flashed as well with a 25-yard over-the-shoulder catch from Bennett.

Offensive Line Outlook

The offensive line saw plenty of rotation. Joseph Noteboom and Alaric Jackson took 1st team reps at left tackle. Coleman Shelton and Brian Allen switched out at center. Rookie 2nd rounder, Steve Avila doubled up and played on both first and second teams. I didn’t notice if Logan Bruss was a participant, but Tremayne Anchrum opened the day at right guard.

Unexpected News

Sean McVay announced Sony Michel’s retirement from the podium. The next day the Rams signed Royce Freeman. Freeman is heading into his sixth season. McVay also said he wanted five or six running backs on the roster for the run-up to the season.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Training Camp
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams Training Camp Defense Notes

I noted last year that Christian Rozeboom had leveled up as an athlete. It seems he’s added more to his game. He was the player that forced Tutu Atwell to fumble the ball. And he nearly broke up a pass to Kyren Williams in the flat. He demonstrated his sideline-to-sideline speed and laid out to try to break up the pass. Williams made the catch, but an impressive effort nonetheless.

Russ Yeast played on the first team alongside Jordan Fuller, while Quentin Lake was on the second team. Ahkello Witherspoon missed practice with a thumb injury. McVay said he needed a few pins put in and will wear a cast. Several cornerbacks rotated in including Robert Rochell, Shaun Jolly, and Cameron McCutcheon.

Byron Young was on the field for good chunks of the first-team and second teams reps.

Bobby Brown did not seem to be a participant, but this wasn’t addressed by the credentialed media in the press conference. Jonah Williams, Kobie Turner, and Earnest Brown IV all rotated in with the first-team defensive line.