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Practice Report 11/23: Goff 'Lights Out' in Wednesday Session

Posted Nov 23, 2016

HC Jeff Fisher extolled QB Jared Goff's Wednesday practice, noting how well the rookie threw downfield.

Practice how you play.

It’s an old cliché that gets thrown around frequently — perhaps as a motivation tactic, perhaps as an admonition. But if the saying turns out to be true this week for quarterback Jared Goff, then the Rams should be in good shape on Sunday.

“Jared was lights out today, which is good to see,” Rams head coach Fisher said.

“Today, he was cutting it loose,” Fisher later added. “He’s got a really good feel for it. Last week was his first week as our starter and against that good defense. But, man, this week, so far after two days of practice, he’s putting it down the field and doing some good things. He’s in complete control of what we’re doing, so it’s good to see. It’s very encouraging.”

It’s high praise from the head coach, who watched the No. 1 overall pick complete 17 of his 31 passes for 134 yards in his debut.

“Just letting it fly a little bit — throwing the ball around. It felt good,” Goff said of Wednesday’s session. “I thought everyone did a good job today. I thought we were really crisp. One of the sharpest practices I think we’ve had in a long time and it felt good.”

It’s an encouraging sign during a week where Goff would certainly like to take a step forward. He effectively described his performance against the Dolphins as middling.

“I thought it was OK,” Goff said. “There is obviously stuff I want back, stuff you would like to do better, and then there’s stuff you that you notice on film that you did pretty good — there’s a little bit both ways. But it was OK.”

One of the storylines on Goff to come out of his game against Miami was the lack of downfield attempts. Fisher has said that in retrospect, it might have been something the Rams should have done more. But as Goff explained, there were circumstances that helped dictate the playcalling.

“It was raining early and we didn’t want to throw it deep, because it was raining,” Goff said. “We took the lead, it stopped raining. We’re winning, we’re running the ball well, and our defense is playing great — we’re going to run the ball. That’s kind of how it went.”

Nevertheless, offensive coordinator Rob Boras said the Rams are confident that when the situations calls for it, Goff will be able to throw down the field well.

“We know what his arm talent is, and we understand that we have to be able to push the ball down the field to make some plays,” Boras said. “He’s going to manage games for us, because that’s what quarterbacks have to do, regardless of their talent level. But, then he’s going to be able to make some plays down the field, and we’re very confident in this ability to do that, as well as our receivers and tight ends to make plays down the field, as well.”

As Boras explained, one of the ways Goff will benefit from last Sunday is the many in-game situations that he had to go through.

“Quite a few situations that came up in that game that don’t happen very often — the weather, he was backed up on our own one-yard line, a two-minute drive finishing with a Hail Mary, a four-minute drive,” Boras said. “So, about every situation that’s going to come up over the course of a season, happened to come up in one game for him. I thought his demeanor, and the way he handled everything mentally was fantastic.”

“Definitely a lot of stuff in — with the weather as well as the defense they were running,” Goff said. “It was good to see a lot of different stuff. They’re a tough defense. It was good to get some good stuff out of that.”

This week will be another challenge against a New Orleans defense that has improved considerably. Led by defensive coordinator Dennis Allen — who worked under Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in New Orleans in 2009 and 2010 — Boras said there are elements of the Saints’ defense that are quite similar to Los Angeles.

“They’re a very talented defense,” Boras said. “Their defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is a Gregg Williams disciples, so there’s a lot of similarities there. We know they’re aggressive.”

“They’re good. They mix it up,” Goff said. “They run a lot of similar stuff to what our defense runs I think. There’s a lot of carryover — we’ve seen a lot of it, as well as they’ve seen a lot of our stuff through going against themselves. But it’s been good. They’re athletic, they’re long and they’re good at all three levels. It’s going to be a good challenge.”

One where, if circumstances allow, Goff may have more opportunities to take downfield shots.

“I sure hope so,” Goff said. “We’ve got some good stuff in this week, got some really good playing going. Guys look really good, look fast. I think we have got a good chance to push the ball a little bit.”

RAMS RE-SIGN WILLIAMS, ADD HILL TO PRACTICE SQUAD

Tuesday’s moves left L.A. with 52 players on the 53-man roster, and the club filled the final spot on Wednesday by re-signing cornerback Steve Williams. The Rams initially picked up the USC product back in early September, but waived him on Sept. 23. Williams has since had his second stint with the Chargers, who released him on Nov. 8.

Waived on Tuesday, cornerback Troy Hill will remain with the Rams on the practice squad. Hill said he was thankful the coaches have allowed him another chance with the team.

“I let them down and they gave me this second opportunity,” Hill said. “So it’s a humbling experience and I just want to do everything I can to show them that I can be trusted and work my way back.”

Fisher has said that Hill was honest with him when discussing the off-the-field incident, which is one of the factors for why the cornerback has remained with the organization — albeit in a significantly different role.

“I just want to show this team and everybody in the organization that they can trust me,” Hill said. “I’m just going to keep working my way back up until I prove myself again.”

INJURY REPORT

The Rams are quite healthy for a team in Week 12 of the season, as only two players missed practice with injuries.

Center Tim Barnes (foot) and defensive end Ethan Westbrooks (thigh) did not participate in Wednesday’s session.

Defensive end William Hayes was excused from Wednesday’s practice to tend to a personal matter, according to Fisher.

“It’s a family illness that he was excused for. He’s fine,” Fisher said. “That’s more important than what we’re doing.”