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Practice Report 8/24: Setting the Tone

Posted Aug 24, 2016

As seen on Hard Knocks, MLB Alec Ogletree places a high emphasis on the Rams’ defense preventing points on the opening drive.

If you’ve been keeping up with HBO’s Hard Knocks this season, you likely know how much can be gleaned about the team from the hour-long episodes. Whether it’s seeing players in the meeting room, coaches going over logistics, or sideline footage on gameday — there’s clearly a lot that goes on over the course of a week in training camp.

One standout scene from Tuesday’s episode came from the second preseason game against Kansas City. After the first defensive series, middle linebacker Alec Ogletree was demostrably upset the first unit had surrendered a touchdown to begin the game. So much so, that defensive end Robert Quinn — who was not playing — was shown calming down the Georgia product on the sideline.

The scene came up with Ogletree on Wednesday afternoon after the linebacker had been asked about what he would like to improve defensively against Denver.

“If we go on defense first, we need to go three-and-out and come off the field. No touchdowns allowed,” Ogletree said, essentially repeating exactly what he’d said on the sideline with Quinn. “Really, no first downs. But we can definitely eliminate touchdowns and giving up points on the first drive — that would definitely be great to see.”

Ogletree said he hadn’t seen the aforementioned scene from Hard Knocks, but it’s clear why that goal remains front of mind. Getting a quick defensive stand to start the game is all about setting the tone.

“It kind of sends a message to the other team that they’re going to have a long day,” Ogletree said. “And that’s definitely what we take pride in doing — just making it tough for anybody that shows up to play against us.”

Head coach Jeff Fisher has been critical of the lopsided time of possession the Rams had against the Chiefs last Saturday. Kansas City had the ball for 36:30 to Los Angeles’ 23:30. Plus, L.A. was down 20-14 at halftime. All of that informs Fisher’s goals for the defense against the Broncos.

“I’d like to see the defense get off the field,” Fisher said. “And I’d prefer not to give up a whole lot of points in the first half with the starting defense.”

According to defensive end Will Hayes, the Rams can get there by playing more technically sound and disciplined.

“Continue to do what we’re doing and just get better,” Hayes said. “Just don’t let there be a drop off from last week. Just want to get better as a team and as a defense as a whole than we were last week.”

EXTRA POINTS

— With training camp winding down, Wednesday was essentially the last day the Rams would have to compete ones-versus-ones with pads on. As Fisher put it, both sides had something to prove. But unfortunately, good physicality turned into testiness in a seven-on-seven period and Fisher actually halted practice to give everyone a chance to cool off before getting back to work.

“We had some things we want to accomplish, and got the first period. The first drill was really good. And then we got into the second period, they got a little testy so we gave them a timeout — go sit in the corner, go to your room, take a little time out,” Fisher said. “So we cooled off and we got a lot done.”

“You don’t like to see this happen,” Fisher continued. “I’m not concerned about this carrying over to the games. It was a good learning experience for us, they’re competing, 1s against 1s, we had some good work. At this point, we move on.”

“Coach did a good job of cooling us off and getting everybody back to practicing,” Ogletree said. “It’s training camp — stuff like that is going to happen. But we’re all still brothers and teammates and we definitely look out for one another. So we’re going to put that behind us and keep working.”

— While right tackle Rob Havenstein is still on the PUP list, he appears to be closer to returning.

“He’s making progress,” Fisher said. “We’re going to take him with us [to Denver], going to give him a good workout — good pregame workout, things like that. We’ll see how he is. We’ll see how he does next week. That’s all I can say right now.”