last day of camp

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    Training Camp Report: Quick Hits From Day 16

    Kristen Lago

    That’s a wrap.

    The Rams’ 2017 training camp at UC Irvine is officially in the books. The team held their 16th and final practice of camp on Thursday morning, finishing with a light non-padded session. The day’s work focused on walking through various formations in preparation for the Rams’ preseason matchup with the Raiders. The Rams will head to Oakland tomorrow with kickoff set for Saturday night at 7 p.m.

    Check out the quick hits from the Rams’ last day of training camp:


    Field-level observations

    – The Rams spent a lot of time in today’s practice working on offense-only and defense-only drills. For receivers, tight ends, and quarterbacks, Thursday’s session included another set of ball protection drills — a part of practice that is quickly becoming a familiar trend. On the opposite end of the field, the defense worked heavily on stripping the ball and pass deflections.

    – In the team’s 11-on-11 work, quarterback Jared Goff hit wide receiver Robert Woods on a downfield pass for a touchdown. Goff also completed a few midrange passes to wide receiver Sammy Watkins, giving fans a preview for what they will see on Saturday. 

    – Cornerback Dominique Hatfield recorded his third interception in the last three days when he picked off a short pass from Dan Orlovsky. 

    – On the offensive line, Jamon Brown and Rob Havenstein continued to take reps at right guard and right tackle, respectively. McVay said after practice that although the line is “a constant work in progress,” the two would continue on in these positions heading into the regular season. 

    – Cornerbacks Mike Jordan, Kayvon Webster, and Nickell Robey-Coleman were held out of the last day of training camp. Linebacker Mark Barron also did not participate. 

    McVay addresses Donald

    Earlier today a report surfaced from ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, that defensive tackle Aaron Donald might take his contract holdout into the regular season after missing training camp.

    After practice on Thursday, McVay said both sides “were still continuing to try and find a solution,” regardless of the reports circulating the media.

    “Our approach is exactly the same,” he said. “He’s a very important part of what we want to do, [but] in the meantime, we’ve got a lot of great guys out here that are working hard and getting ready for this Oakland game. Whether that report is true or not, and we’re still trying to find that solution to get Aaron here and be a part of what we’re doing and if not we need to be ready to adjust.”

    Josh Hart pays a visit to Rams Camp

    One of the newest Lakers’ shooting guards, Josh Hart, made an appearance at the Rams training camp on Thursday. The former Villanova standout and NCAA champion stopped by Rams Camp Live to talk about his transition from college to the NBA and his excitement at becoming a part of the L.A. sports culture.

    A rookie’s take on training camp

    While training camp is a valuable opportunity for all 90 players on the roster to get back on field and prepare for the regular season, it is especially important for the rookies in transitioning from college to the NFL.

    Tight end Gerald Everett said that in his opinion, training camp “went extremely well” on both an individual and team level. Although he experienced camp in college at South Alabama, Everett was quick to point out the new challenges that an NFL camp presents for rookies.

    “The learning curve in the league is the biggest thing for me,” he said. “The demand to win is greater here than I have ever experienced and the time consumption is on a whole new level to where I can’t even remember what day it is.”

    And while he spent countless hours on field and in the classroom throughout the last 16 days, Everett said the biggest thing he gained was the “ability to digest information as quickly as possible.”

    “The defense really knows how to disguise different looks before the snap,” Everett said. “And it has been cool learning how to really adapt on the fly as fast as you can. I think I have progressed a lot over the last two weeks just with getting back into football.”

    A successful camp overall

    After practice McVay took the time to address the media and discuss the team’s outlook heading into Week 2 of the preseason. After 16 practices at UC Irvine, McVay said that the team was “not where they wanted to be,” but was “heading in the right direction.”

    “I think in terms of what you what to get out of training camp, continuing to try to connect as a team, continue to get better in your offense and defense, and special teams systems, we’ve gotten a lot of things accomplished,” McVay said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the guys competed, went about the meetings, and when we practiced every single day. It’s been a great group to be around.”

    As the team prepares to take on Oakland, McVay said that Saturday’s game would provide them with a great assessment of the team’s development, especially on offense. The Raiders will present the Rams’ with two of the best pass-rushers in the league in linebackers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, while on defense the Rams will face a top-tier duo in quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper.

    “I think that experience, especially for younger players at any position, is extremely beneficial and that’s something that we don’t take lightly,” he said. “We know we’re going to get an opportunity to go against a great front and great defense in the Oakland Raiders and it’s going to be a great evaluation tool for us.”




    Highlights From Thursday’s Rams Practice

    Rich Hammond


    A brief look at the Rams’ training-camp practice on Thursday:


    It’s been a nice week for the Rams’ receivers. First, Sammy Watkins showed up and made some nice catches, and rookie Josh Reynolds flashed some moves. On the last official day of training camp, one of the veterans stood out, as Robert Woods made a couple nice catches in traffic, including one long ball for a touchdown.


    Coach Sean McVay didn’t offer an official list in advance of Saturday’s preseason game at Oakland, but it seems likely that the players who were held out for most of practice this week won’t play.

    That would include cornerbacks Kayvon Webster, Nickell Robey-Coleman and Mike Jordan, which would leave the Rams rather shorthanded beyond starter Trumaine Johnson.

    Receiver Tavon Austin, running back Lance Dunbar, offensive lineman Andrew Donnal and linebackers Samson Ebukam and Nic Grigsby also remain out.


    “We’ve gotten a lot of things accomplished. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re going in the right direction. That’s what you feel good about.”

    — McVay, on reaching the end of training camp.


    The arrival of Watkins, and good practice efforts from Reynolds, clearly have turned up the heat on receivers such as Nelson Spruce and Paul McRoberts, who presumably were on the 53-man roster bubble even before Watkins’ arrival in a trade last week.

    Spruce made the roster out of training camp last year but missed the season with injuries, while McRoberts spent most of 2016 on the Rams’ practice squad.

    “With the uncertainty and the unpredictability with the injuries and different things that can occur,” McVay said, “I think you get yourself caught up in worrying about things that you can’t control and that’s when it affects your ability to be your best. Those guys aren’t players that do that and I think that’s why you appreciate what they bring to this team right now.”


    The Rams are done at UC Irvine. They will have a walk-through practice Friday at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, then resume practice there Tuesday, after Saturday’s preseason game at Oakland.

    “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the guys competed, went about the meetings, and when we practiced every single day,” McVay said. “It’s been a great group to be around, both coaches and our players.”


    5 key questions for Rams: How they have been answered

    Vincent Bonsignore

    IRVINE >> Sean McVay called his Rams together on a sun-splashed Thursday morning moments after a loud horn sounded to end practice.

    Thirty seconds or so later, the chorus of 80 players yelling “Rams” could be heard bouncing across two football fields, nearby locker rooms and weight rooms and a UC Irvine campus springing back to life after summer vacation.

    And with that, the first Rams’ training camp presided over by new head coach Sean McVay was officially in the books.

    Ahead is a game against the Raiders in Oakland, and then the Rams are back to official headquarters in Thousand Oaks. Soon they will be settling into a normal regular-season routine as they navigate through the final two preseason games and the approaching 2017 season.

    The Rams faced five key questions heading into camp three weeks ago, key aspects of their operation they’d have to address to help ensure a rebound from last year’s 4-12 record.

    Let’s take a look at those questions — and the verdicts — with training camp now over.


    The addition of free agent left tackle Andrew Whitworth changes the whole dynamic of an offensive line that was ranked among the worst in the NFL last year. It takes a position of weakness and makes it a strength, and with Rodger Saffold a fixture at his natural left guard spot and veteran John Sullivan the starting center, the middle and left side of the Rams offensive line is settled.

    But while the Rams have peace of mind on the left side, the right side is still a bit unsettled. They went into training camp hoping the moves of Rob Havenstein from tackle to guard and Jamon Brown from guard to tackle would solidify the right side, but after a week of camp Havenstein was back at tackle and Brown back at guard.

    Havenstein has fit right back in at tackle, but not so much Brown, who faces a big couple of weeks ahead as the Rams decide whether he can be counted on as a starter or if a change needs to be made.

    It’s a concern, obviously, but collectively the offensive line appears much improved from last year, and the veteran leadership of Whitworth, Saffold and Sullivan should be a boon to Jared Goff and help Todd Gurley get back on the right track. If Brown – or a replacement – can lock down right guard with Havenstein anchoring the right side, the Rams could be decidedly better along the offensive line in 2017.

    VERDICT: Headed in the right direction


    Almost everything the Rams did this offseason was with their second-year quarterback in mind. From making the change from the defensive-minded Jeff Fisher to the offensive-minded McVay, to rebuilding the coaching and personnel infrastructure around Goff, the objective was to enhance his chances of reaching his ceiling.

    Aside from a hiccup to begin the last week of training camp in which Goff was bitten by the interception bug – he chalked up two shaky days of practice to pushing some boundaries and vowed to learn from it – Goff has looked solid thus far.

    He’s making good decisions on the majority of his throws, seems to be adapting to the new offense under McVay and has done a nice job spreading the ball around to a rebuilt receiving corps bolstered by the recent addition of Sammy Watkins.

    It’s obvious Goff is developing a nice rapport with free agent pick-up Robert Woods, second-year tight end Tyler Higbee and rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Throw Watkins into the equation and all of a sudden there is a deep arsenal he can tap into.

    Just as importantly, Goff seems much more comfortable in his demeanor and role as the starting quarterback, right down to the confident manner in which he handles media responsibilities as his personality and sense of humor begin to emerge.

    It’s a small thing, but telling.

    VERDICT: Promising


    Todd Gurley burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2015 with 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games.

    Then he limped through 2016 with 885 yards and six touchdowns.

    Yes, Gurley was running behind an offensive line that couldn’t consistently open holes and alongside a quarterback and wide receiver group incapable of challenging teams downfield.

    Yes, there was a lack of creativity in the coaching staff to figure out solutions.

    But there also is evidence to suggest when Gurley did have room to run, he didn’t always make the most of it.

    Gurley looked more decisive in camp running behind an improved offensive line and in the new offensive scheme under McVay.

    But the lack of tackling in camp makes it hard to truly judge. The next two weeks of preseason games should give us a better handle on things.

    VERDICT: Incomplete


    The Rams went heavy on wide receiver help through the draft and free agency while also adding a new vertical tight end threat. The hope was newcomers Woods, Kupp, Gerald Everett and Josh Reynolds would combine with holdovers Tyler Higbee, Tavon Austin, Nelson Spruce, Pharoh Cooper and Mike Thomas to lift a receiving group that struck little fear in the hearts of opposing defenses.

    Kupp and Woods have settled in nicely, Higbee has the potential to be a major weapon for Goff, and Reynolds made an immediate impression when he returned to practice this week after being sidelined because of leg issues.

    Nevertheless, it was obvious the Rams lacked a difference-maker on the perimeter through the first two weeks of training camp.

    That all changed late last week when they traded cornerback E.J. Gaines and a future second-round pick to the Buffalo Bills to bring in Watkins, a dynamic playmaker who immediately adds the home-run threat the Rams lacked in the middle of their batting order.

    Watkins added to the previously retooled receiving corps could mean a major difference in how the Rams attack opposing defenses and in how opponents defend them. In the process, Goff and Gurley could benefit greatly.

    VERDICT: Rams might be onto something


    The Rams had an accountability, leadership and teaching problem under Fisher, with players privately complaining about a lack of urgency to get problems fixed and a sentiment that they weren’t being empowered to lead.

    The hiring of McVay, 31, was expected to improve those deficiencies by establishing a new culture in which players are held accountable but also given a voice.

    McVay, along with the experienced coaching staff he constructed, has brought a level of teaching, passion and creativity that was obviously apparent during training camp, and the players in turn seem to be responding.

    McVay’s first go-round as a head coach appeared to build off the groundwork he laid during the offseason, and as the regular season approaches and unfolds it’s imperative he continues to nurture the culture and identity he hopes to be the foundation of his team in the future.

    VERDICT: Absolutely







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