Five Takeaways from Rams 2019 training camp at UC Irvine 

1) FOWLER LOOKS PRIMED FOR A BIG YEAR

Running back Todd Gurley made headlines last week when he told NFL Network that outside linebacker Dante Fowler has “been a new animal. He’s been getting to the ball as fast as Aaron Donald, so that tells you a lot about him.”

Some found that hard to believe, but at least to my eyes, Gurley wasn’t lying. Throughout the course of the camp practices, Fowler showed speed and burst to get into the backfield — particularly against the run.

After the trade that brought him to Los Angeles, Fowler registered 2.0 sacks in the regular season and then 1.5 more in the postseason. If camp is any indication, Fowler could present serious challenges for offenses that already have to stop the No. 1 player in the NFL, defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

2) GURLEY’S ON TRACK

The Rams have implemented a plan for Gurley when it comes to keeping him as fresh as possible for the regular season and — the Rams hope — beyond. Gurley practiced every other throughout the week, which worked out well for the joint practices, which were separated by Friday’s walk-thru.

When he’s been on the field, as teammates and coaches have said, Gurley looks like the explosive player who has scored 40 touchdowns since the start of the 2017 season. It seems fair to expect that the Rams may rotate in at running back a bit more given the presence and talent of both Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson at the position. But by and large, Gurley will likely still be a focal point of the offense.

3) KUPP A FULL PARTICIPANT

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp suffered his season-ending knee injury back in Week 10 last season, but you’d never know it by looking at him on the field. Head coach Sean McVay has even said that the Rams have data that Kupp is more explosive than he was before since he’s returned.

That’s clearly good news for the Rams’ offense, which missed Kupp as the season went on. Yes, Los Angeles finished No. 2 in scoring and made it to the Super Bowl. But Kupp’s route-running ability is a major key to the club’s success — especially on third downs and in the red zone. Kupp’s going full speed and should almost certainly be ready for the opener against the Panthers.

4) HENDERSON MAY CONTRIBUTE EARLY

Running back Darrell Henderson is a rookie and he undoubtedly has much to learn. But as he gets his career going, he certainly looks the part of someone who can be an effective offensive weapon.

When the Rams drafted him during the spring, the club touted his hands and his receiving ability. Now that he’s been on the field with pads, that continues to come through in various ways. Henderson could potentially get lined up anywhere and everywhere along the offense. Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported L.A. may use Henderson like McVay utilized Washington running back Chris Thompson. In 2016, Thompson had 68 carrels and 49 receptions to combine for 705 yards from scrimmage with five total touchdowns.

5) TIGHT END PRODUCTION ON THE RISE?

If there’s one place where the Rams’ offense could significantly improve, it’s in production at tight end. The group, led by Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett, has certainly made its share of big plays over the last two seasons. But since McVay took over as head coach, Rams tight ends as a whole have averaged just 53.5 receptions for 613.5 yards with four touchdowns per season.

But this training camp, both Everett and Higbee caught a lot of passes and it looks like both could contribute on a more regular basis in 2019. Of course, there’s only one football, and with talent up and down the offensive unit, feeding everyone might not be the easiest thing. But McVay said both Higbee and Everett have continued to take steps forward and positively push each other. We’ll see if that translates to regular-season success in the coming months.

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