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Rookies Make Good First Impression on Sean McVay

Posted May 15, 2018

The Rams rookie class participated in team activities for the first time on Tuesday. McVay said their presence has already made a noticeable difference.

While Los Angeles’ rookie class arrived on Monday, the players didn’t quite begin activities with the rest of the team until Tuesday morning. And even then, just their presence made a noticeable difference. 

“The team room was a lot more full this morning than it’s been with about 65 guys now that we’ve got that full 90,” head coach Sean McVay said on Tuesday afternoon. 

The Rams added 11 draft picks and 17 college free agents to the team, bringing the current offseason roster to the max of 90 players. While it will take a bit of time to get the rookies fully integrated into the system, the 27 first-year players made a positive first impression on their new head coach.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to be able to kind of get these guys familiar with how we operate, while also being able to do some things specific to the foundation that’s already been set and kind of how we want to operate with those rookies that’s different to the vets,” McVay said. “I think it’s hard for them to come in with the amount of information that’s already been covered dating to last year. But also being able to do some drill work with our players who have been here, those veterans, and see the way they work. So it’s a nice combination of both, and it was a good start today.”

Los Angeles did not necessarily take a traditional approach to bringing rookies in, opting not to have a rookie minicamp. McVay explained that the decision was made for a number of reasons. 

“When you look back on last year and you say, ‘OK, we end up getting [safety] John Johnson injured.’ There were a couple other guys that got the soft-tissue [injury],” McVay said. “They get in there, they’re so excited. So we felt like those were some tough things that kind of set us back a little bit.”

Additionally, McVay said that based on the players Los Angeles acquired in the draft and the initial wave of college free agency, the club felt its best option was to have a tryout camp for those who could be potential depth pieces. The best part about that plan was it also minimized the risk for injury.

Now that players have all arrived, McVay explained the club will make sure the rookies understand Los Angeles’ one-day-at-a-time approach that’s focused on daily improvement and excellence. With that, the head coach said that today the rookies mainly participated in individual drills and observed more once the team moved to group drills. And he expects the athletes who have already been in and around L.A. to provide aid in the on-boarding process. 

“Everything starts with — whether you’re a veteran player, whether you’re a first-year rookie — building and developing a relationship,” McVay said. “[But then] what are the core values? What are the principles that we feel like guide our everyday approach as an organization? I feel like that’s as much driven by our veteran players as it is our coaches.

“And that’s what you feel really good about, is there’s a lot of things that take place in that locker room in terms of becoming what we want with the culture,” McVay continued. “Everybody talks about that word. But I think those players are really what make it come to life. And when you look at the veterans that we do have that positively influence and affect their teammates, and then we expect them to do the same with the rookies.” 

A lot of what the Rams have tried to do in this offseason is build depth at certain positions. And though it’s hard to tell exactly how that’s worked out before players get into live competition, McVay seems encouraged by the athletes the club has brought in.

“I think that’s something we’re extremely intentional about developing,” McVay said. “We’re excited about getting these guys in here and seeing what type of role they’re going to carve out for themselves.” 

And McVay sees that process as collective, rather than simply placing the entire onus on the players.

“You certainly want to establish a little bit of patience as well, not expecting them to get everything,” McVay said. “And that’s part of what coaching is — is helping them work through those problems, giving them solutions, and then let’s get better together.”