Practice Report 8/3 - 'Iron Sharpens Iron'

Posted Aug 3, 2016

DE Will Hayes has been impressed by the offensive line's progress so far in camp, and expects it will make both the DL and OL better in the long run.

On Tuesday, the Rams staged their first full practice in pads. And by all accounts, the offense was the better of the units for that particular session.

Los Angeles’ defense being full of competitors, head coach Jeff Fisher predicted the group might have a little extra in store for Wednesday. In fact, some defensive even asked to keep things exactly the same from one day to the next.

“The players actually were kind of lobbying to put pads back on today, because I think that was coming from the defense,” Fisher said.

One such defender was defensive end William Hayes.

“I was pushing for it,” he confirmed. “I felt like, since I’ve been here — four years — that was the most competitive we’ve been against each other. So I was all for it.”

But that’s not how the schedule worked out.

“But, we originally planned on not going back-to-back. So, they’re going to have to wait until Saturday now,” Fisher said.

Still, what made Tuesday so competitive? From Hayes’ perspective, it was all about the battles in the trenches.

“Those pads came on [and] I saw a different offensive line, which was pretty cool,” he said. “Those jokers were coming off the ball and they were getting after it. I think that was the biggest thing.”

“And it was like every single play [we were] fighting until the whistle was over with, which is a good thing,” Hayes continued. “So that was pretty exciting for me.”

As one of the veteran leaders on the defensive line, Hayes has been around for a while and knows how to get ready for a season. During this time of year, there’s no scout team — the first-team O and first-team D go head-to-head to try to make one another better. And at this point, Hayes feels like both the offense and defense are about even.

“We’re pretty good right now, man,” Hayes said.

For the D-line in particular, Hayes said one of the unit’s goals is to make sure it’s not just the Aaron Donald show. As good as the third-year defensive tackle is, everyone has to support him along the line.

“I mean, I don’t want it to be where you just see Aaron Donald — Aaron Donald’s carrying the D-line and he’s the only one making flashes the whole game,” Hayes said. “I want it to be all four of us just being disruptive and playing off of each other. And that’s one thing we’re doing better this year than we did last year. Everybody’s playing off of each other really good this year.”

And the camp competition between the two lines should help both units when it comes to translating those improvements into Ws once the regular season hits.

“Iron sharpens iron, and we’re going out there and we’re getting after each other really good,” Hayes said. “They’re getting after us really good. The only thing it’s going to do is just push us toward greatness.”

“I’m real optimistic to see what the season is going to look like,” Hayes added. “Right now, I can’t really see too many weaknesses on both sides of the ball. So I’m pretty excited to see what we’ve got ahead of us.”


— Are players a more self-conscious with Hard Knocks cameras around during camp? Perhaps a little bit.

“I’m trying not to censor myself so much, but I have to kind of watch my mouth a little,” Hayes said. “It’s just a little different than what I’m used to. It seems like every time I want to start laughing and joking, I start seeing a camera in my face. And I’m not really big when it comes to cameras. I’m not like a television-type guy. So that’s a little different for me. But it’s been fun.

“But the cool thing about Hard Knocks,” Hayes continued, is that “it’s given our team — well the whole NFL and everybody within the community — a chance to get to know our players and get to know us.”

— Wide receiver Mike Thomas has put together a couple strong practices in a row, catching a number of passes form fellow rookie Jared Goff. According to the sixth-round pick, the duo is establishing a nice rapport.

“We’re getting a lot of reps in together, so I feel like the chemistry is going great,” Thomas said. “Of course, there’s a lot of we need to work on. Just the timing and everything, yeah. But our chemistry is going great.”

— With starting right tackle Rob Havenstein on the preseason physically unable to perform list, Rodger Saffold has been filling in at right tackle with Cody Wichmann playing at left guard. Over his years in the league, Saffold has played all over the line, and has a good comfort in doing so.

“With Rob missing time right now, we decided prior to the start of camp — and notified [Saffold] — that we’re going to move him out to right tackle. He said, ‘Cool,’” Fisher said. “He says he loves it. He will play any position but center. So, it gives us the flexibility and the peace of mind knowing that if you do have an issue, Rodger can play any place.”

— Cornerback E.J. Gaines did get a few reps with the first-team defense on Wednesday, but Fisher said the Mizzou product “came up a little bit lame” toward the end of practice. The club will check him out and we’ll have an update when one is available.

— Finally, the Rams had a special guest at practice on Wednesday — seven-time Grammy award winner Kendrick Lamar. Check out our Dani Klupenger's one-on-one interview with him in the video below.