After each training camp practice, senior writer/team insider Myles Simmons will share 10 observations from the session. Here are the notes from the second of two joint practices with the Chargers from Aug. 3. With action on two separate fields, these observations focus solely on defense.
1) The Rams’ defensive backs consistently got their hands on the football all practice long, starting with 7-on-7 drills. Safety Jake Gervase was the first to have a near interception with the reserves, as a floating pass from Chargers backup QB Tyrod Taylor went in and out of his hands on the defense’s right. Gervase did a few pushups for missing the opportunity.
2) Cornerback Marcus Peters then had a near leaping interception off of Chargers signal-caller Philip Rivers — who Peters knows well from their shared time in the AFC West. Peters leapt up and got a hand on the ball from the intermediate route, but couldn’t bring it down. He also did some pushups. Those would become fairly commonplace over the course of practice.
3) On the first play of 11-on-11 drills, birthday boy Dante Fowler beat the tight end off the edge to hit running back Austin Ekeler in the backfield to the defense’s right. Then a few plays later, Fowler used his speed to blow up a run by coming in from the backside of the play and wrapping up the ball carrier in the backfield. The outside linebacker has put together a nice training camp so far.
4) Still in 11-on-11, cornerback Darious Williams picked off a pass and returned it to the house against the Chargers’ reserves. The Rams may have gotten a sack on the play in real life, but with no one hitting the quarterbacks, Taylor rolled to his left and fired a pass that Williams stepped in front of, caught, and ran down the defense’s right sideline. The Rams players and coaches celebrated, running down the sideline with him.
Check out photos from first of two joint practices with the Chargers!
5) A few minutes later in the same period, defensive back Dont’e Deayon dove and caught a tipped pass for an interception. Deayon was in the middle of the field for the intermediate route, which was well defended. Rookie safety Taylor Rapp also got in a legal hit on the would-be receiver after the ball got batted up in the air.
6) For a special teams period, the Rams were on punt return with coordinator John Fassel on the field. Two pairs of Rams blockers stood out in defending the Chargers’ gunner: Deayon and fellow DB Ramon Richards, along with wide receivers Alex Bachman and Nsimba Webster. Both pairs were able to stay in front of the gunner, preventing him from effectively moving down the field to get in position to hit the return man.
7) During an 11-on-11 third-down period, Rivers looked deep down his left side of the field but Peters had strong coverage, forcing the quarterback to try to fit the pass in a small window along the sideline. But the coverage was too good and the ball was incomplete out of bounds.
8) For an 11-on-11 "move the ball" drill, the Chargers were able to move the chains on the first try but on the net set of downs, cornerback Aqib Talib batted a ball down, Rivers had to throw away a second-down pass, and then a check-down swing pass went nowhere on third down. Talib continued his big day by nearly making a diving interception on an intermediate route in the middle of the field. And in a later period, he had strong coverage on Keenan Allen on a deep pass to the the end zone, forcing another incompletion.
9) Safety Marqui Christian has gotten a lot of time in practice as the Rams’ dime safety, but was working as the free safety with the second defense when a potential interception went in and out of his hands deep down the defense’s right. He did pushups, too.
10) To end practice on the defense’s field, Dominique Hatfield picked off an intermediate Taylor pass in the middle of the field before taking it to the house down the defense’s right sideline. It was a fitting close to a strong defensive day from the Rams.