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Practice Report 9/14: Keenum, Offense Moving On to Seattle

Posted Sep 14, 2016

After a disappointing start to the season on Monday, the Rams offense will be looking for significant improvement against Seattle in Week 2.

Before Monday night’s loss to the 49ers, quarterback Case Keenum had gone through a solid offseason program, preseason, and first week of practice. While that did not translate to a strong performance to open the year, Keenum is undeterred as he learns from the outing in preparation for the Seahawks on Sunday.

“I’ve just got to let the game come to me,” Keenum said Wednesday. “Take what the defense gives me. Trust my teammates — they do a great job. And get the ball out of my hands to the right place.”

According to the quarterback, one of his most significant issues was probably overthinking what he saw on the field instead of trusting his instincts and offensive rules.

“I over-thought a lot of things,” Keenum said. “I think that I was seeing ghosts — I was seeing things that weren’t there. I wasn’t trusting myself and my abilities.

“They gave us some different looks,” Keenum added. “For us, we’ve always said, ‘We trust our rules.’ So that’s why our coaches do a great job of preparing us to have rules that can fix anything in a game.”

Head coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday that this week, he’s looking for Keenum to capitalize when the offense has chances.

“Case made some plays and then missed some opportunities,” Fisher said. “But every game you watch, quarterbacks are missing opportunities. So we have to just make sure we take advantage of those opportunities when they’re there.”

Wide receiver Kenny Britt, who has shown strong chemistry with Keenum since the quarterback was inserted into the starting lineup last season, said he’s expecting the Houston product will be fine going forward.

“It’s only the first game,” Britt said. “You over-think stuff because you don’t want to miss stuff. You don’t want to see one thing and then it be the next thing. So I know things will calm down for him.”

One of the games where Keenum and Britt best displayed their strong chemistry came last year against the Seahawks in Week 16. In the Rams’ 23-17 victory, the duo connected on a 28-yard play-action pass for a diving touchdown — with Britt getting the best of cornerback Richard Sherman on the play.

“Go back to film from the last few years that helped us out, especially the plays that worked for us,” Britt said of what he’s looking at on film this week. “Capitalize on everything we see out there.”

One of the reasons the Rams can go back and intently study what the Seahawks have done in years past is because their defensive scheme has stayed consistent. Seattle runs a Cover 3-based system, and while they will do some tweaks off of that, the foundation is the same.

“They do what they do and they do it well,” Keenum said. “Their secondary is one of the best — obviously. And their front seven — or eight, if you’ll call it with [safety Kam] Chancellor coming down in the box, too — it’s a great run-stopping box, too. So we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

“They’re sound fundamentally and you know they’re going to play one defense, and it’s basically going to be the same thing,” Britt said. “They’re not going to change up their defense for anybody. It’s either you’re coming ready to play, or don’t come at all. So we know that we’re going to be strapped in and ready to go.”

But that doesn’t mean it makes it any easier to figure Seattle out. Success in the past does not guarantee success in the present.

“Teams change, players change, and for right now they’ve got some different players on their defense,” offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said. “Scheme is going to be the same, but at the same time, each week, they’re going to have a blitz that’s going to cause some problems that we’re going to have to figure out on the fly.”

“That was that game, it was that team, too,” Keenum said. “Obviously we can learn some stuff from those games, but we’ve got a new challenge ahead of us and a new opportunity, really.”

And so as the team moves on from Monday night’s loss, the offense is looking forward to potentially righting the ship against a division rival.

“All [this] adversity, challenges, it’s really opportunities,” Keenum said. “And that’s the way I’m looking at it.”

“Just trust what you see, and let it fly,” Keenum added.

EXTRA POINTS

— For Wednesday’s injury report, defensive tackle Michael Brockers (thigh), cornerback E.J. Gaines (thigh), wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (shoulder), and wide receiver Nelson Spruce (knee) all did not participate in practice. Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (foot) participated on a limited basis.

Running back Todd Gurley also did not participate in the session, but only for a day of rest.

“That’s a coach’s decision, he’s inside,” Fisher said. “He’ll be fine. He’ll be out there tomorrow.” 

— Tight end Tyler Higbee received his first game action on Monday night, calling it an exciting experience. He made one reception in his NFL debut.

“It was exciting,” Higbee said Wednesday. “Monday night, especially — you get the crowd out there, it’s cool. It’s a little bit [of a] step up from preseason, which is cool. And I enjoyed it.”

What did Higbee learn from his first taste of the regular season?

“Mainly, it’s the first game. Everybody’s good — you have to bring your A-game every week,” Higbee said. “You can’t slack off, you can’t take any plays off. And in order to win, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

— Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll had his conference call with L.A. media on Wednesday afternoon and said he’s looking forward to being a part of bringing the NFL back to the venue he called home while head coach of the USC Trojans from 2001-2009.

“I’m proud that we get to be the first ones that start this thing,” Carroll said. “For no other reason but I just love Southern California and love the fans and love who they are and what they’re all about. I feel fortunate that we have a chance to add to, kind of the kickoff event to this. That doesn’t amount to a whole lot, it’s just kind of a personal feeling about it. We’re hoping we’re going to play a good football game and the rest of that stuff will take care of itself later on.”