Practice Recap: Defense Gets Aggressive

Posted Aug 1, 2014

Here's everything you missed from Friday's practice, including Gregg Williams' high grades for the D-Line, new rules and Tre Mason's progress.

The first practice of August came and went on a cloudy day in Earth City on Friday. The Rams, practicing without pads in anticipation of the full-pad practice and scrimmage at #RamsFanFest on Saturday, got some good work done through a couple drizzles this afternoon.

If there’s one group on the Rams no one has to worry about, it’s the defensive line. Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams made that clear by proclaiming that the Rams front four -- led by Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers, and Kendall Langford -- is the best line he’s ever been a part of.

“Not only the first front, but the second front,” Williams said after practice on Friday. “And not only the second front, but the third front. And they’re … coached by someone who I think is one of the best d-line coaches in the league, [Mike Waufle] -- and I’ve been blessed to have a lot of good d-line coaches.”

But that’s not all. Williams said the entire defense has made good progress since OTAs and minicamp.

“The reason they’re taking another step is because the verbiage and the language is starting to become a little more memory-based,” he said.

Still, Williams reiterated that building the Rams into an elite defense will not be “magic.”

“It’s not going to be LeBron James magic dust -- that’s not going to happen,” Williams said. “What’s going to happen is, these players are going to play aggressively. And they’re playing for somebody and with somebody who’s on the same page with them. Nobody is going to hold them back.”

Much of Williams’ aggressive approach will certainly be headed by the defensive line. According to Williams, that group’s talent will allow more flexibility in blitzing.

“I’ve never been afraid to bring lots of people,” Williams said. “But we can still do some of the same things and bring less people.”

If that’s not enough evidence to convince you of the defense’s potential, Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said on Friday that the sheer number of formations makes things difficult for the opposition.

“Obviously, they give us a lot of trouble just in terms of the multiple looks they’re going to give us,” Schottenheimer said. “They’ve got a lot of things you’ve got to prepare for.”

It’s clear just from watching practice that the defense has the potential to be great. But we’ll only know that for sure once the Rams start hitting other teams around the league.

Four NFL officials stopped by Rams Park Friday afternoon to help explain some of the NFL’s new policies for the upcoming season.

Aside from using the football as a prop during a touchdown celebration (sorry Jimmy Graham), one of the more interesting new rules is to protect defensive players. The “clipping” penalty has now been extended to include offensive players who block a defender in the legs from the side. The penalty does not eliminate all cut-blocking techniques, as players can still cut block from the front. But the move is to prevent multiple leg injuries that can occur when one gets blocked low and from the side.

Another point of emphasis will be enforcing the illegal contact rule. In reviewing film, the competition committee noticed many defenders with their hands on receivers past the five-yard mark while the quarterback was still in the pocket, which is a direct violation of the rule.

Finally, the officials said they would be on the lookout for players who use offensive language on the field, especially comments racially or sexual-orientation based in nature. They said context will be key for assessing many of those unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, but officials will not be tolerating that kind of speak on the field in 2014.


…Schottenheimer said quarterback Sam Bradford has looked “really good” in training camp so far, making his way back from a season-ending ACL tear in 2013.

“He had some great throws today -- that shouldn’t surprise anybody. Obviously he’s a very talented, gifted passer,” Schottenheimer said. “He feels great, looks great, so we’re excited about it.”

…Someone else standing out on offense is rookie running back Tre Mason. Schottenheimer said the third-round pick has done a great job picking up the mental aspects of the game.

“We ask a lot of our backs in protection and some of the things we do even in the passing game,” Schottenheimer said. “He’s done a really good job coming from a situation where he didn’t do a lot of that in college.”

…Don’t forget, #RamsFanFest will be on and popping tomorrow afternoon at the Edward Jones Dome. It’s a great, free event that will give you as fans some of the best access you’ll get all season to coaches and players. Doors open to the public at noon, and practice will get underway at 12:30 p.m. Players and coaches will hang around to sign autographs after the session.

“It’s an experience for the fans,” Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher said. “It’s an opportunity for them to come down, go inside, watch practice, get close and enjoy two or three hours of stuff that we have set up.”

According to Fisher, the practice will feature plenty of drills -- like one-on-ones and two-minute -- as well as a scrimmage between some of the younger players to finish off the session.

If that’s not enough for you, competitive-eating champion Takeru Kobayashi will be in attendance for the #RamsFanFest Burger Challenge.

Check out all the details of #RamsFanFest right here.

Maybe you pay attention to the bylines on these articles, or maybe you don’t. But in any case, Rams fans, you’re about to see a lot more of this one. My name is Myles Simmons and I’m your new Team Insider. I’ll be at every practice during the week and at each game on Sundays to provide you with the most comprehensive, up-to-date coverage of your favorite NFL team.

We’re going to have a lot of fun this season as this team competes for a championship. So be sure to check back every day for news, notes, and the latest info on the Rams.