The Rams offseason program has wrapped up, which means the players are off until training camp begins in late July. After a successful three phases, here are five takeaways from Los Angeles’ offseason program.
1) GURLEY FOLLOWS HIS PLAN
There have been a lot of offseason headlines about Rams running back Todd Gurley and his health. But the 2017 AP Offensive Player of the Year — and last season’s league leader in touchdowns — has been on a specific maintenance plan throughout the course of the offseason program, which included keeping him off the field for the Rams’ OTAs and minicamp.
Nevertheless, Gurley was often in the building, as he worked with both L.A. trainers and noted trainer Travelle Gaines over the last few months.
The running back said on Tuesday that he’s feeling good, and that his training regimen really hasn’t differed much from what he was doing previously — aside from not taking the field during OTAs.
Head coach Sean McVay also noted this week that the Rams are happy with the way the plan for Gurley has turned out so far, adding that the star RB should be on the field for training camp.
However, it’s fair to expect that Gurley won’t be participating in any preseason games — especially considering the way things worked out last year after the Rams followed that method.
2) NEW STARTERS ON OFFENSIVE LINE PROGRESSING WELL
There’s fairly overwhelming continuity on the Rams’ offensive unit headed into the 2019 season, but there are two spots where L.A. must integrate new starters: left guard and center.
Fortunately, Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen had a year to acclimate to the NFL with the Rams before needing to step into those potential starting roles.
And now that L.A. has completed the offseason program, that process seems to be going well for both Noteboom at LG and Allen at C.
“They’ve had a great opportunity this offseason to get all the repetition that they needed that can really help them grow to understand how to handle it themselves,” run game coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer said this week. “It’s their line, it’s their group, they’re one of the top guys now and that comes with a little responsibility, and I think they’ve handled it really well.”
With the partnership between center and quarterback vital to keep an offense moving, Jared Goff said he and Allen have been playing “Fortnite” together on XBOX — going over protections on the headset.
3) COOPER KUPP ON TRACK
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp tore his ACL during Los Angeles’ Week 10 victory over Seattle at the Coliseum, and now he looks as if he’s on track to play the first game of the season in Carolina.
McVay said the Rams were looking for “creative” ways to get Kupp involved on the field during OTAs, and were able to accomplish that by having No. 18 participate in the jog-thru periods of practice. That allowed Kupp to at least get some mental reps with his teammates — a process Kupp described as helpful.
“I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be in the huddle again, break a huddle, get out there and see a defense out in front of me,” Kupp said. “It’s one of those things that I think is underrated, is the repetitions, even when you aren’t going full-speed, being able to see a defense and make decisions based on what they are showing you and then being able to make a decision once the ball is snapped.”
“You try to anticipate as much as you can what you are going to get, and then you plan for how you are going to attack each play, and then when you see it you react, get to your spots, and I think those are invaluable reps for me.”
Kupp said this week that he’ll be around the facility from the end of the offseason program through the start of training camp, focusing on his rehab to be in the best shape possible in late July.
4) NEW VETERANS ON DEFENSE WILL MAKE AN IMPACT
Whether it’s been from McVay, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, or fellow players — safety Eric Weddle and linebacker Clay Matthews have received consistent praise for their knowledge and contributions over the course of the offseason program.
Heading into his 13th season as a safety in the league, Weddle has been a sort of field general within the backend of the Rams’ defense. He appears to work well with those around him in the secondary — cornerback Aqib Talib, cornerback Marcus Peters, cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, and safety John Johnson. And with all he’s seen in the league, he’s able to make quick adjustments on the fly — like having a fellow defender take an extra pre-snap step — that can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful play.
As for Matthews, he appeared to be lining up primarily on the outside for early downs, but was more of a wildcard for known-passing situations. Between Matthews, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and outside linebacker Dante Fowler, the Rams should give offenses a lot to think about when dropping back to pass.
5) GOFF GAINING MASTERY OF OFFENSE
Much of the recent conversation surrounding Goff has been regarding his contract and when the Rams will extend his contract.
McVay has been clear that as long as he has any say in the matter, it will happen — this is a matter of when, not if.
But when it comes to Goff’s on-field performance, McVay sounds like he couldn’t be more pleased with the strides the QB is making in preparation for his fourth year as a pro — the third in this offense.
“Really, when you just look at the confidence we have in him, taking steps from year one in the system to year two, just thinking back to last year how confident he was — and now I think it’s even that much more this year,” McVay said. “You can’t say enough just [how much he is an] extension of the coaching staff. He’s got true ownership, a great ability to communicate with his teammates. And with him leading the way, we feel really good.”
“I think just the more reps you get, the more times on task, and the more times you see looks and are able to execute plays that have different defensive looks — it’s just about time,” Goff said. “Like anything else you do, it’s just about time and continuing to get better at it.”
Check out photos from behind the scenes of the Los Angeles Rams Media Day!