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Practice Report: Taking On the 12s, Hekker Supports Wildfire Relief

Posted Dec 14, 2017

The Rams held their second practice of the week on Thursday and discussed the team's outlook heading into CenturyLink on field on Sunday.

The Rams held their first full practice of the week on Thursday at Cal Lutheran after hosting a walk-thru session on Wednesday. L.A. will resume workouts on Friday morning before heading north to face the Seahawks in a battle for the NFC West.

WHO'S PRACTICING, WHO'S NOT?

On Thursday, the Rams welcomed back wide receiver Robert Woods (shoulder) to the practice field in full. Center John Sullivan (non-injury related), linebacker Mark Barron (non-injury related), and right tackle Rob Havenstein (knee) were limited participants.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) was held out for the second-consecutive practice, while quarterback Brandon Allen (back) was a non-participant as well.

Head coach Sean McVay said although Whitworth has not been able to practice, he should play in Sunday's game.

"We want to be extra smart with him just with the knee, but he was able to come back in the game [against the Eagles]," McVay said. "And typically what we've done over the last couple weeks is kind of have him do some stuff with our strength and conditioning, he gets the mental work in the walk-thrus and then on Friday is when he kind of gets going a little bit."

In Seattle, there was one very important name added to their already long list of injuries — safety Earl Thomas. The Pro Bowler did not participate in Thursday's practice with a heel injury. Joining him on the sidelines were five other Seahawks starters including linebacker K.J. Wright (concussion), linebacker Bobby Wagner (hamstring), defensive end Michael Bennett (knee), tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle), and tackle Duane Brown (ankle).  

ACCOUNTING FOR THE 12s

CenturyLink Field, the home of the Seahawks, is widely known as one of the loudest and most raucous stadiums in the NFL.

Not only does the design — which features two overhanging roofs— amplify the noise level, but  the compactness of the stadium also allows the crowd to be closer to the players than most others in the league.

“The crowd is very loud, especially with the way that the stadium is built,” left guard Rodger Saffold said. “Those canopies really bring the volume back down to the field and kind of multiply it which is pretty tough.”

Plus, the stadium is filled to capacity at almost every home game — a fact that makes for quite the home-field advantage for the Seahawks. On Sunday, with first place in the NFC West on the line, many Rams players are expecting to walk into a particularly hostile environment. They say the key to playing against "the 12th man" is to focus on each other and not their surroundings.

"Coach was asking me, ‘How loud is it going to be?' I'm like, ‘Yeah, we're not going to hear nothing,'" running back Todd Gurley said. "Not expecting to hear anything, but hopefully we go in there and do what we're supposed to do and shut the crowd up."

"It's a great environment," he continued. "The 12th man up there is real."

HEKKER HELPS OUT

In the wake of the Southern California fires — including the Thomas Fire in Ventura County that has already burned over 200,000 acres — punter Johnny Hekker has made a priority of helping the thousands that have been displaced.

When the fires first began last week, Hekker visited the Ventura County shelter to pass along a truckload of clothing and supplies to the fire victims. He said that although "going to the shelter was a good first step," he then realized that "there was so much more help needed."

On Thursday, the Oregon State product announced a partnership with United Way, co-designing a T-shirt to help raise funds for the Southern California Wildfire Relief Fund.

"The items that we donated were only going to go so far, but I think that the fund is going to directly impact those people's lives that have lost so much," Hekker said. "And it will also go to help the first responders, the firefighters that have gone to help everyone else. So, everyone that's affected is going to see direct help from that and I think it will be a great way to just continue the support process."

The Navy blue T-shirts read "Together LA United" on the front and feature the "LA Fire Relief" on the back. 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the relief fund and will support long-term recovery and re-building efforts for low income families that have been affected.  

"Being confined inside your house for such a long time and not being able to go out because of smoke, or having to leave your home and not knowing if it's even going to be standing when you get back is a crazy thing to even consider," Hekker said.