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Practice Report: Adjusting the Schedule, Cooper Earns an Honor

Posted Oct 18, 2017

The Rams held their first practice of the week at the University of North Florida. Plus, notes on KR Pharoh Cooper, who was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Rams began their practice week at the University of North Florida on Wednesday afternoon. The club will hold a session there on Wednesday and Thursday before heading to London on a red-eye flight Thursday evening. Here are a few notes from the day’s session.

INJURY REPORT

There were a few Rams listed on Wednesday’s injury report, but there was also good news.

McVay said safety Lamarcus Joyner was a full participant in the day’s session and is on track to start Sunday’s game against the Cardinals if everything goes according to the current plan.

“He said he felt good today,” McVay said. “It was a little bit modified tempo, just dealing with the atmosphere. But he said he felt good and the anticipation is he’ll be ready to go and start for us.”

After sitting out last Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, cornerback Troy Hill was also a full participant on Wednesday.

Linebacker Mark Barron (thumb) and safety Cody Davis (thigh) did not participate in the session.

Finally, outside linebacker Connor Barwin, center John Sullivan, and left tackle Andrew Whitworth received their usual Wednesday rest day and should be back in practice tomorrow.

ADJUSTING THE SCHEDULE

The Rams have changed their schedule a bit this week, which is to be expected with a London game. But being a West Coast team, traveling to the United Kingdom after an East Coast game presents its own set of challenges.

That’s part of why the Rams elected to stay in Jacksonville until Thursday, to help mitigate the stress of travel. And so far, the plan has been successful.

“I think it’s gone really well. I think, really, you just look at the first couple days of your weekly preparation — you’re just doing it in a different place,” head coach Sean McVay said Wednesday. “But players handled it great.”

“It’s definitely better than flying back to California and then having to fly all the way out to London,” quarterback Jared Goff said.

Goff called the experience similar to training camp, since everyone is staying in the same place. And he noted there are some advantages of being at the a hotel, as meeting rooms are close to the rooms where players are sleeping.

“It is nice having the meeting rooms so close, and all the facilities, and film close where we can actually get in maybe little bit more work if we need to,” Goff said.

It’s also another chance for players to be able to bond on the road, where the club has experienced a lot of success this season. The Rams are 3-0 away from their home stadium for the first time since 2001.

“I think it’s been a great opportunity for us to kind of get away and continue to connect, like we’ve talked about,” McVay said. “And up to this point, it’s been exactly what we had hoped.”

But players said there hasn’t been too much of an adjustment of the weekly rhythm so far. The club practiced at 2:30 on Wednesday, and will hit the field at 1:15 on Thursday. If there’s one thing that’s different, McVay said the club tried to install more of the game plan a bit earlier in the week than usual so that everything is in before the trans-Atlantic flight.

“We actually got a little bit of a jump on our install where we got some of the third downs in, just so we can get our entire gameplan installed to our players before we travel to London tomorrow night,” McVay said. “They did a great job coming out, having a good locked-in focus and concentration.”

“You try to keep the same routine that you’d have if you were in L.A.,” middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “Coach has done a great job of getting us in and out of meetings, and giving us off time — just all kinds of stuff that we need to be prepared for this game.”

COOPER NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK

For the fourth time this season, the Rams have a NFC Player of the Week.

Kick returner Pharoh Cooper earned the honor, being named the conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week after taking Sunday’s opening kick 103 yards for a touchdown.

“Can’t say enough about Pharoh Cooper and what he’s done,” McVay said. “I think he’s continuing to improve as a receiver as well. And we talked about him the other day — he’s just a good football player. Really, really pleased with Pharoh. And I think [special teams coordinator] John Fassel does a great job of putting those guys in position to have success, and we’re very happy for Pharoh.”

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Cooper said. “I thank the Lord for putting me in position to do this. And I give a lot of credit to the kick return team. We put a lot of work into this week-in and week-out, and I give a lot of credit to those guys. They’re a big part of that.”

Cooper said he’s heard from a number of people about the touchdown, through calls and texts. But he said what’s most meaningful about the return is that his parents were in the crowd to see it. They live in North Carolina, and came down to watch their son play a rare contest on the East Coast.

“That was probably the most meaningful thing about it — I was able to come to Jacksonville and do that in front of them, so that meant a lot,” Cooper said.

The wideout acknowledged he’s looked at the play a bunch of times — not just in the film room with his teammates.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it,” Cooper said with a laugh. “I keep getting tagged in videos, so I keep watching it. But it’s fun just to look back and see it from that point of view — actually what happened, all the little things that go into it. Because there’s a lot of little things that make the big things work. So I’ve watched it a few times and it’s just fun how everything’s set up in the game of football.”

Cooper currently leads the NFL in kick returns (15), return yards (476), and return average (31.7 yards). The South Carolina product is also the only player to return a kick for a touchdown so far in 2017.

Los Angeles’ previous players of the week are running back Todd Gurley, cornerback Trumaine Johnson, and kicker Greg Zuerlein. Gurley was also the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September.

What does four Player of the Week honors say about the Rams six weeks into the season?

“I think we’ve got good players that have made some big-time plays to be able to put themselves in position to achieve an honor like that,” McVay said.