The Rams began training camp with a lively practice on Saturday afternoon. Here are five takeaways from the session.
1) Everyone was amped
It might be obvious to say, but there was a lot of energy for the first training camp practice of Sean McVay's tenure as Rams head coach. Because the players were not yet in pads, McVay said the session felt comparable to what the club was doing during OTAs and minicamp. But the fans provided a different energy to the action.
"I thought it was a great atmosphere out here," McVay said.
"First day out here, however many fans we had, it was awesome," quarterback Jared Goff said. "I think I speak for a lot of guys, everyone was a little bit anxious, everybody's going a little bit fast. It was a good first day of camp."
It wasn't the first time McVay's been on the field with the team as its head coach, but the first day of training camp did represent a checkpoint on the calendar as the regular season gets closer.
"I think going back to the team meeting last night and thinking back to our first team meeting in the offseason program, it feels like it is a little bit closer to reality," McVay said. "That September 10th date and then getting to play the Cowboys in the preseason opener is really what you do this for and I think everybody has got a little bit more excitement."
2) Johnson aiming to help the Rams win
Cornerback Trumaine Johnson will be playing the 2017 season under the franchise tag for the second year in a row. Once the July negotiating deadline passed, that became official.
Speaking to the media for the first time since, Johnson was asked about his contract situation. While he acknowledged being disappointed about not receiving a long-term deal, he said his mindset hasn't changed.
"I'm here, still playing football. I'm still lacing up my cleats. I'm still putting my 22 jersey on," Johnson said. "I'm blessed. I'm here to win games — that's my goal. Point, simple, blank — I'm here to win games. I'm not worried about after the season. I'm here right now and my focus is on winning games."
"Any player would want a long-term deal. I just didn't get one," Johnson added. "I'm not about to feel sorry for myself, be mad at it, and be selfish about it. It's not about me — it's about this team and winning games. And that's what I'm here for."
Wide receiver Tavon Austin went against Johnson in a few one-on-one drills during Saturday's practice and said he hadn't noticed any difference in the cornerback.
"Tru's always going to be solid," Austin said. "I feel like he doesn't let anything else get to him when he's on the field. We just play football, just like everybody else out there. That's the main thing I like about Tru."
3) Goff opening it up early
One noticeable element of practice was Goff throwing a number of deep passes. As one reporter pointed out during the quarterback's press conference, that wasn't really the case early on during last year's training camp.
"We did a bunch in one-on-ones and I threw, I think, a couple during team [drills]," Goff said. "It's a big part of my game and part of my game I like to think I'm pretty good at. I enjoy throwing the ball deep."
Still, Goff acknowledged he'll have to get the timing down with his receivers on those deep throws. He noted that with the first day of camp, his adrenaline was running and that may have been a factor for a couple of overthrows.
Nevertheless, there was one deep crossing route to wideout Robert Woods where Goff put just enough touch on it to get the ball over the defense and into the hands of his target. That play was likely a product of the time Goff and Woods put in during the summer, working out together in order to build chemistry.
4) Changing the terminology
Running back Todd Gurley II kept it simple on Saturday when asked to take stock of what's gone on in his first two seasons.
"It's football. Everybody that's been playing football [in the NFL], we've been playing our whole lives," Gurley said. "It's football — you catch it, you don't turn it over, you score points, and you stop people from scoring points. That's about it, honestly."
True as that may be, when there's a new head coach implementing a new offense, there's plenty to learn — the different terminology being one example.
"Yeah, obviously this is a whole new system. We just had that five or six weeks off, so obviously things are rusty to everybody," Gurley said. "That's why we are having training camp and we are in meetings all day every day and on the field. We all made mistakes today. We're going to learn from them and come back out here and make sure that we don't make the same mistakes that we did yesterday and just keep getting better."
It's early and players are not in pads, so take the following with a grain of salt. But the offensive line created what appeared to be a few solid holes for the running back to rush through during the first practice on Saturday afternoon.
5) No update on Donald
Defensive lineman Aaron Donald remains absent from training camp as the Rams negotiate with his representatives on a contract extension. McVay said after Saturday's session that there was no update as to when Donald may be back.
"I'm sure that when I go back and talk to [general manager) Les [Snead], [E.V.P of football operations] Kevin [Demoff], and [senior assistant] Tony [Pastoors] they've probably been in contact with [Donald's representatives," McVay said. "As of right now, we're keeping those things in house and we're optimistic and we're really striving to find a solution to this."
Check out photos from Day 1 of the Los Angeles Rams Training Camp presented by AT&T.