After each of the Rams’ 10 OTAs, team insider Myles Simmons will share his top observations from practice.
1) The Rams’ offense and defense were on the field together at the team facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif. for the first tine since back in January — a welcome sight on a sunny day in the mid-60s. With 90 men on the roster, each player had his first initial and last name on both the front and back of his helmet. It’s striking how many more players there are on the offseason roster than during the regular season.
2) Running back Todd Gurley, cornerback Aqib Talib, cornerback Marcus Peters, and outside linebacker Dante Fowler were not in attendance for Monday’s voluntary session. Head coach Sean McVay did say after practice that the team had been in communication with each player, which is all the club wants. McVay noted he expects Fowler will be back later this week. The head coach also said that Gurley has been working with both the Rams trainers and external trainers in preparation for the season, and that all parties are on the same page.
3) After the early special teams period, the Rams held a walk-thru with the first-team offense and first-team defense on the same field. Offensive and defensive reserves were on the second practice field. Going at the slower speed, quarterback Jared Goff was pointing out his reads and progressions in the play instead of actually throwing the ball. Los Angeles also worked in a couple different offensive personnel groupings — not just the standard one running back, one tight end, three wide receiver set we've grown so accustomed to seeing on a down-to-down basis.
4) Defensively during that period, second-year linebacker Micah Kiser worked at the second inside linebacker spot next to signal-caller Cory Littleton — where former Ram Mark Barron started in 2018. And though it’s supremely early, it was also apparent how L.A. can use safety Eric Weddle’s versatility in the backend of the defense. He and third-year safety John Johnson sometimes lined up inside the box, sometimes deep. And safety Marqui Christian occasionally was on the field for a three-safety set — something the Rams utilized down the stretch last season.
5) After the walk-thru, Los Angeles’ offense went through a ball-security drill — standard in Rams practices throughout the year, showing how it’s one of the club’s priorities. On a separate field for the defense, L.A. started out with a pursuit drill — again, standard for the team throughout the season.
6) Notably, wide receiver Cooper Kupp — who is recovering from a season-ending ACL tear suffered midseason — participated in some individual drills, catching a few passes from Goff. Kupp said after practice that he’s taking things “one day at a time,” and not looking beyond a week at a time in his rehab. McVay and Goff both noted that the wideout is the kind of player L.A. will likely have to hold back to not do too much too son. And McVay also said that the goal remains to have Kupp ready for “competition and performance” for Week 1 against the Panthers.
7) Goff looked sharp early, both during the individual period and when Los Angeles went to half-field drills for some 7-on-7-style looks, with the top offense going against the top defense. One of Goff’s best passes went down the left seam to wide receiver Josh Reynolds, who snagged the pass over a defender.
8) Tight end Gerald Everett made a nice catch over the middle on a pass from backup quarterback Blake Bortles. No. 5’s pass was perhaps a bit high, but Everett made Bortles right by jumping up and reeling in the intermediate-level pass for a nice gain.
9) Much like Weddle, linebacker Clay Matthews’ versatility stood out during 11-on-11 drills. Matthews lined up on the outside and on the inside, sometimes rushing, sometimes dropping back. Since the team’s not wearing pads, you should probably take this with a grain of salt, but it did look like Matthews was winning reps, too. Headed into his 11th season, Matthews looks like he’s going to be a significant part of Los Angeles’ defense, and can really help improve the unit.
10) Finally, also during 11-on-11 drills, Goff hit Reynolds with another strong throw — this time on an out route to the right sideline. Goff nicely dropped it in No. 83’s hands above beyond the second level of the defense and in front of the third level for an intermediate completion.