10 Observations from Day 5 of Training Camp

Throughout training camp, team insider Myles Simmons will share his top observations from each practice.

1) Before the first whistle of practice officially blew, punter Johnny Hekker was on the field practicing working on directional kicks to both the right and left sideline. The accuracy and precision with which he was punting the ball to equipment assistants 40-to-50 yards downfield was fairly remarkable — though not entirely surprising from the four-time first-team All-Pro.

2) Center John Sullivan was back in pads for Monday’s practice. He left Sunday’s session with trainers after sustaining a minor arm injury. Head coach Sean McVay did say following Sunday’s practice that he thought Sullivan would be OK. Sullivan’s presence on the line is a key factor in Los Angeles’ offensive success.

Check out some of the top shots from Day 5 of 2018 Rams Training Camp.

3) During individual drills, linebackers worked on securing tipped passes for interceptions. Linebackers coach Joe Barry would toss a pass for assistant linebackers coach Chris Shula to tip in the air about five-to-six-yards away. After the deflection, each linebacker would have to catch the pass for a pick.

4) Also in individual drills, cornerbacks worked on jamming receivers in the red zone. Each corner would line up opposite another in his group posing as a wide receiver. The corner would then have to get his hands on the receiver off the line and react to where a popular goal-line route was going. As one might expect, veteran cornerback Aqib Talib excelled at this particular drill — expertly reading the movements of younger DBs.

5) That particular cornerbacks drill is relevant because Los Angeles practiced red zone one-on-ones with quarterbacks, wide receivers, and cornerbacks. Notably from the period…

  • Talib performed well covering wide receiver Robert Woods, blanketing him in coverage to force quarterback Jared Goff into some uncomfortable throws.
  • Wide receiver Mike Thomas made an outstanding catch on the offense’s left. Goff delivered a back-shoulder throw, Thomas went up, secured the ball, and maintained possession and he hit the ground.
  • Cornerback Troy Hill and wide receiver Josh Reynolds had two decent battles. On their first rep, Hill batted away a fade route. On their second, Reynolds got the best of the matchup with a solid slant, catching a touchdown.
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6) In a later 11-on-11 period, Goff and Woods connected for what would’ve been a touchdown pass down the seam on the left. Woods was wide open on the play, as there may have been a miscommunication from the scout-team defense.

7) Talib and fellow cornerback Marcus Peters are always communicating on the field. During one play in 11-on-11 drills against the first-team offense, wide receiver Brandin Cooks got behind the secondary and was open for what would’ve been a long touchdown reception. However, the pass was just a bit overthrown and ended up incomplete. Nevertheless, Talib and Peters stayed in conversation all the way to the sideline to dissect exactly what went wrong, correcting it for the next play.

8) In a red-zone 11-on-11 period, Goff hit running back Todd Gurley over the middle for a touchdown pass. Not that there was any reason to expect something different, but it’s clear that Gurley will once again be a significant part of Los Angeles’ passing game in 2018.

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9) Kicker Greg Zuerlein nailed all six of his attempted field goals on Monday, with the longest coming from 50-yards out. Special teams coordinator John Fassel said following practice that Zuerlein is “full go” after the back injury that landed him on injured reserve late in 2017. Fassel added that Zuerlein is likely “feeling as good as he has in years.”

10) After five straight days of practices, McVay shortened the length of Monday’s session and used the day’s last period to give younger players time for more 11-on-11 work. These plays didn’t quite feature “live” tackling, but the thudding was noticeable as players were probably trying to make a strong impression before the preseason games even begin.

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