Sunday’s Rams training camp was a de-load day. This not only gives the teams a chance to rest up after two rather intense days of padded practice, but it also allows them to “stack blocks.” That is Sean McVay’s preferred term for building knowledge on top of established knowledge.
While the day is physically easier the idea of a de-load day is to tax the team above the shoulders, by focusing on installing new plays and perfecting previous installs. Unfortunately, for the rather substantial crowd at Rams training camp (around 10,000 attendees) there also wasn’t much action. Quarterbacks had the day off from throwing the ball.
That said, the half-pace installations and walk-throughs allow keen observers to note how the Rams may be looking to use new additions, such as Bobby Wagner and Allen Robinson. Members of the media are asked not to share such information, but if you find yourself at a de-load day of Rams training camp, it is something compelling to keep an eye on.
The big news from outside of the friendly confines of UC Irvine at Rams training camp was Ian Rapoport’s report that Van Jefferson will see a specialist on Monday (Aug.1) about a knee injury that has been plaguing him. The report also mentioned that he may miss a few weeks and it may require surgery. It’s important to keep in mind that this means it also may NOT require surgery. Not much more is known, including whether or not the afflicted knee is the same that caused him to miss time in 2021 and 2022.
Jefferson caught six touchdowns and 802 yards and led the team in yards per reception. His 16 YPR was tied for seventh best in the league among qualifying receivers.
Rams Training Camp: Day 7
Offensive coordinator Liam Coen is looking at the silver lining of missing one of his best pass catchers saying, “It’s the right opportunity for the other guys to step up.” The Rams roster is currently stocked with pass-catching talent and the opportunity to re-sign Odell Beckham is still on the table. While it’s not ideal, it does give guys like Tutu Atwell, Jacob Harris, and Brandon Powell a chance to earn the trust of the coaching staff.
Jefferson’s absence at Rams training camp may be Powell’s best chance to show what he can do on offense to help secure a roster spot. He has proven to be the Rams best answer as a return specialist, but that won’t offer him enough security. I wrote last week about a unique trait that could be his ticket.
One receiver Coen wasn’t worried about was Ben Skowronek. The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue asked Coen if Skowronek was more advanced than the average second-year receiver to which he responded “Ben doesn’t have a year two vibe.” and that “…he’s the type of guy that a lot of the coaches trust both [on the] offensive and on the special teams unit.” He also mentioned that he can play multiple positions. The Rams always value versatility, whether that is at receiver, on the offensive line, or at edge rusher.
Coen also commented on Brycen Hopkins. He said Hopkins has “..come along a lot in the last few days.” He went on to say that Hopkins’ focus has a lot to do with his improvement.
Rams Training Camp: Day 7
Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris also took questions at the podium this afternoon. He raved about the entirety of the defensive backs saying, “…the competes and the toughness from that group, I’ve been overall impressed with how well they’ve been locked into situations. It’s almost to the point where I can’t remember the times that they wasn’t and that’s a good thing because they’re so few and far between.”
Morris deflected highlighting the few young players that have made impressive interceptions to stress how impressed he’s been with the secondary as a whole. That said, Cobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, and Robert Rochell have all made those plays during Rams training camp. Morris did mention Rochell’s improvement “above the neck” at Rams training camp. Rochell’s rookie mistakes from last season often looked like above-the-neck mistakes. Morris also implied that Rochell has all the raw physicality he needs to compete.
Morris took time after Rams training camp to speak about Troy Hill and Jalen Ramsey. Morris called Hill a ‘calming figure’ and ‘poised.’ He recalled Hill’s path through the NFL and how impressed he is with it. Hill was an undrafted free agent in 2015 and was signed and waived by the Bengals and the Patriots before joining the Rams. Each year, Hill improved and was rewarded with playing time culminating in his career-high 973 snaps in 2020 with the Rams. Those kinds of experiences are a part of what makes Hill an important addition to a very green secondary.
Ramsey has been sidelined while recovering from surgery, but that hasn’t stopped him from making an impact during Rams training camp. Morris spoke about, “Coach Ramsey.” He praised how invested he has been in the improvement of the younger players and that “He got all the answers. He wants to make all the checks.”
Morris also noted that Ramsey’s competitive fire can affect his mentorship, saying, “He can have some moments where emotion takes over what he wants and what he really believes but his true essence of who he is comes out in these times in the meeting rooms and in training camp.” Morris also went on to say that this time only being able to focus on helping others will make him a better player.
Morris also talked about Bobby Wagner. What has been notable about everyone who talks about Wagner, including Morris, is what traits they always bring up. It is always some variation of the poise and thoughtfulness in which he plays the game. This makes two things abundantly clear; those traits are very real and very rare. Fans and the media continue to talk about Von Miller‘s absence from the defense. It’s time to move on to talking about how big of an addition Wagner is.
Morris talked about what difference Wagner brings to being the defensive play caller (The Green Dot). He said he brings a different “Attention Base” and “Different Rules”. Essentially he commands attention and the guys are eager to listen to him.