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Practice Report 12/30: Offense Improving with Boras, Keenum

Posted Dec 30, 2015

The Rams are now 3-0 since Rob Boras assumed the duties of offensive coordinator and Case Keenum re-entered the starting lineup at QB.

NAPA, Calif. -- With the team staying on the West Coast to eliminate a few hours of travel, the Rams got back on the practice field Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the 49ers. Coming off Sunday’s victory, spirits have been up as the team looks to finish the season at .500.

“This has been really good,” head coach Jeff Fisher said of practicing in Napa, Calif. “We’ve cut way back on the travel time and we’ve got great accommodations. Meeting spaces are good, game plan is in. We had a really good Wednesday.”

Rob Boras, now entering his fourth game as the offensive playcaller, likened the experience to preparing for a college bowl game.

“It’s great being here. The guys have bought into it,” Boras said. “We’ve kind of talked about it as our bowl trip, and the guys are all in their sweats just like when you’re in college going to bowl games.

“The energy and enthusiasm has been great in the meetings,” Boras continued, “and then for them to come out here and have a practice like they did, I thought, was really good.”

Boras’ unit has performed well enough to win over the past three weeks, particularly with clean performances. The Rams have not turned the ball over in their last two games. Plus, St. Louis had no pre-snap penalties or sacks against Seattle, illustrating strong growth with the offensive line.

“As an assistant coach, I always want to credit the guys. And [OL coach Paul] Boudreau and [assistant OL coach Andy] Dickerson have done a great job,” Boras said. “To go in that environment, that was kind of our focus as an entire offensive staff, was just playing with poise in the noise. And the guys did it.” 

“Actually, I didn’t get touched that much,” quarterback Case Keenum said. “It’s incredible. You’ve got to hand it to those guys. That’s a tough environment to play, tough environment to hear. For those tackles to be able to sit in there and not [false start], and still be able to block those guys coming around the edge, you’ve got to give those guys a ton of credit. It was an outstanding performance from them. And they’re coming together really well.” 

Since re-entering the starting lineup, Keenum has completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 461 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

“I think just the process that he’s going through now, it’s completions,” Boras said. “He’s a natural leader. Guys like playing for him. He’s got a grasp of what we’re trying to do. I think just continuing along that same path -- it’s not going to change. I don’t see the formula for us changing a whole lot.”

“When we decided to go with Case, which was the Baltimore game, we were a play away in regulation from winning that game,” Fisher said. “He’s technically 3-1 as a starter -- very close to being 4-0 as a starter. I’d say he’s done a really good job for us.”

Keenum is up to 7.44 yards per attempt in the three-game winning streak as well. With his recent performances, it’s clear the timing has been strong between he and his wideouts.

“During preseason, you kind of rep with everybody,” Keenum said. “I’ve thrown to these guys a bunch. But it’s coming together. We’re getting used to the plays Rob likes to call, and kind of getting where everybody’s on the same page with that. And just executing.” 

Keenum and Kenny Britt have shown a strong rapport on deep balls in particular over the past two games. On Sunday, Keenum threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to the wideout, which Britt brought in with a dive.

“It’s easy to build a rapport with a guy who makes plays, and he’s made some big plays the last few weeks,” Keenum said. “It’s been a lot of fun to throw to guys who get open. You tend to look their way a little bit more. And he’s been running great routes and getting open. I think it’s just happened, it’s been on the right play at the right time, in the right coverage. He’s taken advantage of it.”

These four games represent an audition of sorts for Keenum, not just for the Rams, but also for the 32 teams around the league. Even so, Keenum says that’s the way it is for not just him, but everyone who plays.

“Anytime the lights come on, or anytime we step on the field between the white lines and the film’s on, that film goes around to everybody,” Keenum said. “And it’s not just the TV copy -- they see everything from a lot of different views. So in the NFL, that’s what your resume is -- what you put on tape.” 

The same situation could possibly be said about Boras. Since assuming the duties of offensive coordinator a few weeks ago, Boras said he hasn’t necessarily received notification as to whether or not the role will be permanent. And he’s OK with that.

“I’m a tight ends coach who’s getting to call some plays right now,” Boras said. “We can only control what we can control. Right now, this is what coach [Fisher] has asked us to do, and we’re doing it, and we’re having fun doing it. Whatever happens, happens.” 

“Right now, he’s running the offense and he’s 3-0 since he took it over,” Fisher said, adding he’s staying focused on the present, too. “It’s a good thing.” 

OGLETREE RETURNS TO THE FIELD

No. 52 was a welcome sight on the practice field Wednesday afternoon, as linebacker Alec Ogletree did some work on the side as he progresses in his rehab from a lower-leg fracture.

“It’s good to get him back on the grass,” Fisher said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and try to get him involved in more than just walk-thru stuff. Maybe some scout-team stuff.”

Ogletree was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return, though the team figured it wasn’t necessarily likely the linebacker would play once again in 2015. Fisher confirmed that train of thought on Wednesday.

“From a timing standpoint, he’s ready to start doing things on the grass,” Fisher said. “He’s been straight-line running for a week or so, and we wanted to introduce some change-of-direction him. So no better place to introduce change of direction than on the field with his teammates.”

INJURY REPORT

The Rams listed eight players on Wednesday’s injury report.

For the three players in the concussion protocol, defensive tackle Nick Fairley and safety Mark Barron did not practice. But defensive end Ethan Westbrooks did participate on a limited basis.

“[Westbrooks] was limited today, which was good,” Fisher said. “Overall, I would think the concussion issues which we had should be behind us before the weekend.”

Todd Gurley sat out Wednesday’s session with a foot injury, for which Fisher said the running back was receiving treatment during practice. Defensive tackle Doug Worthington (thigh) also did not participate.

Defensive tackle Michael Brockers (thigh), cornerback Eric Patterson (ankle), and offensive lineman Andrew Donnal (knee) were all limited in Wednesday’s session.