OXNARD, Calif. – Saturday marked the first time since 2019 the Rams were able to get competitive reps and snaps in the preseason against someone other than themselves thanks to a scripted joint practice with the Cowboys.
As Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy and Rams head coach Sean McVay indicated on Friday, the majority of the practice featured team drills and mostly each team's first-team offense and defense going against their respective counterparts.
Staff writer Stu Jackson shares 10 Observations from the session.
1) Special teams, then team work: As mentioned above, most of the segments were team drills. Things kicked off with special teams drills, which allowed each team to get punt and punt return reps in – Rams punters Johnny Hekker, Corey Bojorquez and Brandon Wright punted to the Cowboys' punt return team, while the Rams' punt return team – which included rookie wide receiver Tutu Atwell in its rotation at returner – fielded punts from the Cowboys' punters. A variety of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work followed.
2) Quality reps for the defense: While Cowboys starting quarterback Dak Prescott (shoulder) and wide receiver Amari Cooper (Active/Physically Unable to Perform list, offseason ankle surgery) did not participate in team drills, the Rams still got good work in with second-year wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, tight end Blake Jarwin, wide receiver Michael Gallup and running back Ezekiel Elliott all available and in the mix.
3) Jordan Fuller active: The second-year safety had a couple of nice pass breakups during 11-on-11 work, including one on a short pass by Cowboys quarterback Garrett Gilbert intended for Lamb, as well as a deep pass by Gilbert over the middle targeting Lamb.
4) Swim move: Defensive lineman Aaron Donald received his fair share of double-teams from the Cowboys offensive line, as one might expect, but he also made an impressive play agains the run where he beat his defender with a swim move to reach the running back as the ball was being handed off to him.
5) PBs for the DBs: Aside from Fuller, Darious Williams and Davig Long Jr. each had a nice pass breakup in the corner of the endzone during redzone team drills. In regular team drills, Kareem Orr had a pass breakup and nearly made a diving interception. Dont'e Deayon also made an impressive pass breakup where he ripped the ball from Cowboys wide receiver Osirus Mitchell's hands after Mitchell came down with a pass from quarterback Ben DiNucci.
6) Stafford to Jackson (again): In what has become a regular occurrence, quarterback Matthew Stafford connected with wide receiver DeSean Jackson for another long touchdown. On Saturday, it went for 60 yards, with Jackson using his speed to finish the rest of the play after having a couple steps on two defenders.
7) More explosiveness from Darrell Henderson Jr.: The third-year running back had a a couple of explosive plays in 11-on-11 drills, including a long run up the right sideline. While Rams head coach McVay said the running back position is most difficult to evaluate in terms of what constitutes a broken tackle when the emphasis is on "thud" tackling – as in, making solid contact but players still staying on their feet – he did praise the awareness Henderson showed on Saturday.
8) Second team offense led by Bryce Perkins and Devlin Hodges: As expected with backup John Wolford (appendectomy) sidelined, the second-team offense reps were handled by Perkins and Hodges.
9) Kenny Young with the thud: The fourth-year linebacker delivered a hit on a Cowboys running back audible enough to garner a reaction from the crowd.
10) Lively atmosphere: A full house of Rams and Cowboys fans were on hand at the the Cowboys' practice field in Oxnard, as well as its perimeter, with fans also perching themselves atop the gates and fences surrounding the field and watching from porches attached to nearby apartments.