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Rams News & Notes: OTA No. 2

Posted Jun 1, 2016

Team insider Myles Simmons runs down why QB Nick Foles is absent from OTAs, what RB Todd Gurley wants to improve upon, and QB Case Keenum's approach to competition.

As the Rams continue their organized team activities, head coach Jeff Fisher held his first press conference of Phase III on Wednesday afternoon. Here are some news and notes to come out of his and a few players’ sessions.

A FEW ABSENCES

Fisher confirmed three players are currently not participating in the Rams’ organized team activities: running back Tre Mason, safety T.J. McDonald, and quarterback Nick Foles.

The head coach said Mason and McDonald are both excused from OTAs for personal reasons. Both players will likely be absent for all three weeks of practices.

As for Foles, Fisher noted the quarterback departed from the team’s offseason program around the time when the Rams acquired the No. 1 overall pick from the Titans. Fisher has since been in contact with Foles, and said that the two are on the same page.

“We’re trying to work things out and that’s pretty much all I can say,” Fisher said. “These [OTAs] are voluntary.”

“We’re in the process of sorting things out with Nick,” Fisher added. “It has nothing to do with him not wanting to come in and compete at all. He’s very, very competitive. We appreciate everything he did for us, and his leadership. His teammates miss him. But, I don’t have any more information other than we’re just trying to work things out.”

The head coach noted that these are sometimes the realities of the business side of the NFL.

“I think Nick has the feeling that if things stay the same, he’s probably not going to be on the roster,” Fisher said. “But beyond that, it was more of a mutual thing. It’s not that we said, ‘Don’t come.’ It was just [him] saying, ‘Hey coach, I would just rather stay away until we get things figured out,’ and I said, ‘I’m fine with that.’”

GURLEY’S READY FOR YEAR 2

This time last year, running back Todd Gurley was still working his way back from tearing his ACL in November 2014 at Georgia. He was essentially confined to running without cuts, and there was plenty of intrigue as to when he’d finally be able to play.

Gurley proved to be a force in 2015, finishing No. 3 with 1,106 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns, and an AP Offensive Rookie of the Year trophy.

Now with a full offseason under his belt, Gurley looks ready to stave off any notion of a sophomore slump.

“He’s not missed a day and he’s running extra after practice,” Fisher said. “He looked pretty good running in a straight line a year ago at this time. He’s doing everything [now], to the point where you almost [say], ‘OK, let’s back down a little bit.’ He’s had an impressive offseason.”

“It was just my first real offseason,” Gurley said. “So being able to take some time off, and being able to rest, and then just getting back to work — and working hard to just try to make sure I have a great year this year. I’m eating right, and making sure I’m taking care of my body and doing all the right lifts.”

As for what Gurley’s looking to improve upon in Year 2, he mentioned becoming a better receiver.

“Definitely, routes and catching,” Gurley said. “I’ve got to get more catches this year, stay healthy and then run the ball. Get my line right and make sure we start off strong and finish strong. But most definitely I want to work on catching.”

KEENUM EAGER TO COMPETE

Quarterback Case Keenum has said in the past that he’s had to work for everything he’s ever received as a football player. That’s why even though quarterback Jared Goff will likely be the Rams’ starting QB sooner than later, he’s undeterred in his desire to compete.

“I knew they were going to draft somebody,” Keenum said. “And I’ve competed for my job every year. So I really didn’t expect it to be anything different.”

“For me, my mindset is to go beat the 49ers on Monday Night Football,” Keenum added. “And that’s every time I come on the field, that’s what I’m looking forward to, I guess you could say in the back of my mind, and knowing that it’s coming.”

Right now, Keenum is taking his reps with the first-team offense, just as the Rams’ brass said he would since the end of the 2015 season.

“This is different than any year. I’m going against the first-team D right now, and for me that’s priceless reps,” Keenum said. “So I'm going to take advantage of every rep that I get.”

As he does just that, the Houston product wants to continually improve. And heading into his third year with the Rams, familiarity can help pave the way.

“I’m just coming out here to do my job, and that’s be the best player I can be,” Keenum said. “I’ve gotten better every year. And I think I’m a really good quarterback. And I think I’ve got a chance to be even better.

“I’m excited about this year. [It’s my] third year in an offense,” Keenum added. “I’m getting now to the in-depth things that come after years of experience.”