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Practice Report 8/25: Quinn to Make Preseason Debut at Denver

Posted Aug 25, 2016

After an injury-shortened 2015, DE Robert Quinn will make his preseason debut against the Broncos on Saturday.

Defensive end Robert Quinn is not used accustomed to life on the bench.

Last year’s Week 9 contest at Minnesota was the first time he’d ever missed an NFL game due to injury. It was the first Rams’ game he didn’t start since 2012. And after he tried to be effective in a pass-rushing role against the Bears in Week 10, the Rams shut Quinn down as he underwent season-ending back surgery.

“It sucked,” Quinn said after Thursday’s practice. “But I mean, it’s just an unfortunate accident. It happened, you just have to overcome it. It’s in the past, leave it in the past and try to make something happen this year.”

That process has been well underway since the start of the offseason program, as the team has brought Quinn along slowly. The defensive end mostly worked off to the side with trainers for the first couple of weeks, before participating in individual drills and a few team sessions. He’s been going full tilt since the start of camp, although there are days where the Rams back him off just a bit as a precaution.

“One of the biggest things you have to do with a competitor like him is hold him back,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. “If we didn’t have the problem of holding him back, we have the wrong guy.”

Now, Quinn is set to make his 2016 preseason debut against the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos on Saturday night. Head coach Jeff Fisher said the plan is to have the D-lineman play for a couple series, and then in a few pass-rushing situations.

“I think I’ll have a few snaps, hopefully break that ice because it’s been a while since I really got out there,” Quinn said.

Everyone remembers Quinn’s spectacular 2013, in which he had 19.0 sacks. He wasn’t a slouch in 2014 either, coming away with 10.5 and going to his second consecutive Pro Bowl. And after playing through much discomfort last year, Quinn says he’s feeling more and more like himself once again.

“I’ve got to do a little bit extra just to be on the safe side,” Quinn said, giving credit to the training staff. “But every day, I feel pretty much rejuvenated.”

He’s also clearing the inevitable mental hurdle that comes with sustaining a season-ending injury.

“If you think about the injury, usually that’s when you kind of re-injure yourself. So I’m trying to just not think about it as much as possible,” Quinn said. “Of course, it’s a back surgery. It’ll get tight from time to time. But that’s around the time when we should start relaxing, cooling down — body starts settling. So, no, I don’t think it’s going to be anything to worry about.”

Saturday will be an important checkpoint in terms of performance and recovery for Quinn. And heading in, he’s feeling as if he’s returned to form.

“I feel like I’ve got the power back. I feel like I’ve got some explosion back,” Quinn said. “But, again, I haven’t played a game. So who knows where it’s truly at? Like I said, I feel great, but I guess the game will tell.”

EXTRA POINTS

— Fisher said generally, the Rams will add a series or two to what players did last week for playing time against Denver.

“There may be a few guys that participate in somewhat fewer snaps, but for the most part, we want to push this thing well into the second quarter, and we’ll go from there,” Fisher said.

Quinn, of course, would likely be an exception to that. And Todd Gurley could be as well, as Fisher said he hadn’t yet decided how he’d distribute reps for the running back.

“I was really pleased with what he did last week — I really haven’t decided,” Fisher said. “He’s getting a lot of great practice reps. When we kick off against the 49ers, his reps in the preseason are meaningless.”

The quarterbacks will go through a similar plan, although starter Case Keenum is slated to see more time on the field. Keenum has played two series in each of the first two preseason games, and that number may increase to three or four depending on how the game goes. Jared Goff will come in from there, and Fisher said he would like to get Sean Mannion time this week as well.