The Rams have just three more OTA practices before the club's mandatory minicamp begins next week. Monday's practice featured a few nice offensive plays, including a sharp touchdown throw from quarterback Jared Goff to wide receiver Robert Woods in a two-minute drill. Plus, wide receiver Nelson Spruce caught a deep touchdown pass from the Rams' starting quarterback early in the session.
Here are five takeaways from OTA No. 7.
1) Talk about Goff
Last week, head coach Sean McVay was asked about a potential competition at quarterback. Some saw his response as less than a ringing endorsement of Goff, even though McVay said, "Jared's the starter and he's done a nice job commanding that role."
When the subject was brought up again on Monday, McVay was once again clear about Los Angeles' QB-1.
"Jared is our guy. We have a lot of confidence in what he's done," McVay said.
That said, McVay's comments were conveying the same philosophy he's trying to instill within the club.
"It was certainly just what we preach to our team about — we're going to play the guys that give us the ability to win football games and the guys that are competing at the highest level," McVay said. "Clearly, Jared has done that so far. It's a one day at a time process, but what he has done is just picking things up. He's getting better every single day and he's definitely commanded that role. He did that again today. I think you guys saw how well he performed in a lot of the different situations. It's encouraging and that's why we can't wait to go back and look at this tape."
It's worth noting McVay also mentioned he has confidence in backup quarterback Sean Mannion. But that doesn't change the status of the top two quarterbacks on the roster.
2) Johnson returns to practice
After a week away, cornerback Trumaine Johnson has returned to the Rams practice field.
He said on Monday that he was tending to a personal matter and that's why he was absent. Johnson made it clear he didn't stay away for any contract-related reason.
The absence became a somewhat prominent story last week because McVay said during his press conference he had not communicated with the cornerback. But following that session, coach and player got in touch and worked everything out.
"I understand it's a distraction," Johnson said. "I've got to do better with communicating with them."
3) Dealing with player absences
As McVay has made clear over the past few weeks, OTAs are voluntary. With his contract situation, defensive tackle Aaron Donald has remained absent throughout. On Monday, outside linebacker Connor Barwin and offensive lineman Greg Robinson were both absent — though McVay said both had communicated with the club and are expected back soon.
Nevertheless, McVay admitted that as a coach, of course he'd like to have all players present at all times.
"I think the biggest thing is that you just want to make sure that there's clear and open communication. Those guys that have missed, sometimes it's been exactly what we wanted, sometimes it hasn't," McVay said. "I think we just keep communicating with the player our expectations, our standards. For the most part, all of these guys have really done a great job with that. As a coach, you're always going to want the guys here, but you also understand the framework of the way that some of this stuff is setup in the offseason program."
So how confident is McVay that the club will have 100 percent attendance at next week's minicamp?
"I think you always hope for it," McVay said. "Certainly, I think each day you're kind of ready to take on new challenges and things come up. But, that's our hope, that's our expectation and I guess we'll find out next week."
4) Brown likely to stay at right tackle
Offensive lineman Jamon Brown began taking snaps at right tackle last week, and it looks like he's going to stay there not only through the offseason program, but also into training camp.
"Yeah, I think so," McVay said. "I think he's done a nice job and we're continuing to try to find what the best five guys and what that combination will be. He certainly has put himself in the mix and he's playing at a very high level right now and we've been pleased with what we've seen from him."
McVay said Brown has been doing a nice job at right tackle, calling him an aggressive and physical player.
"He's got good athleticism for the position," McVay said. "Played inside mostly last year, but he does have some experience playing at that right tackle position where he really played right and left [tackle] at Louisville."
A year ago, one of the biggest standout players during OTAs was undrafted rookie wide receiver Nelson Spruce. The Pac 12's all-time leader in receptions caught six passes for 51 yards with a touchdown in Los Angeles' first preseason game against Dallas last year, but suffered a knee injury in that game that kept him sidelined for weeks.
Though he made the Rams' 53-man roster, Spruce was never healthy enough to see the field and was placed on injured reserve in November.
Now Spruce is fully recovered and looks like he could potentially contribute. He's continued to show precise route-running skills and has made a number of strong receptions during the offseason program.
"You see a natural football player. He's got a good feel for the game. I think he's got good aggressive hands," McVay said of Spruce on Monday. "He was a little bit limited earlier this offseason with some things where we were just being careful with him. Now that he's been back and he's moving around, you can see why he was able to make the plays that he did last year. It's good to see Nelson out here."
"It's a lot of fun," Spruce said. "I'm in my hometown. I get to play in the NFL — I don't know if you could dream of a better situation. Every day I'm out here, I'm happy and I try to make the most of it."