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From the Podium: Rams preview Thursday Night Football vs. Patriots

Rams head coach Sean McVay, offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell, defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and quarterback Jared Goff each held video conferences with local media Tuesday to preview Thursday night's game against the Patriots (5:20 p.m. PT, FOX/NFL Network/Amazon Prime Video), discussing the challenges the Patriots' offense and defense present, among other important topics.

Here are some of the highlights and key takeaways from those virtual conversations:

"It's great to be able to have Cooper (Kupp) in the mix." – McVay

  • A season-ending torn ACL in mid-November 2018 prevented Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp from playing against the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII less than three months later, but he's healthy for Thursday's rematch.
  • "Cooper adds a huge element to our offense, and really he's somebody that you want to get involved in a variety of ways," McVay said.

"(Cam Akers is) getting real comfortable. The game is starting to slow down (for) him." – O'Connell

  • O'Connell has been pleased with the progress of rookie running Cam Akers, who had 72 rushing yards and one touchdown on a season-high 21 carries against the Cardinals last week.
  • "It's exciting to see and just hope he can keep it going on a short week for the first time," O'Connell said.

"When the quarterback is not a runner, you can play 11 on 10 and you have a numbers advantage just by that guy not being able to effectively run the football. But when you have someone like Cam Newton, now it's truly 11 on 11. Now it's more even money." – Staley

  • Staley and the Rams defense are well aware of the challenges Patriots quarterback Cam Newton presents, especially as a runner.
  • Accordingly to Staley, the thing Patriots are doing an effective job of with Newton is using him as a runner in all situations. That type of skillset and usage places an increased emphasis on team defense since all 11 offensive players have to be accounted for.

"The best way to put it is it's just like old-school football again. We've just got to be ready for a strong, hard-fought game." – Donald

  • New England brings a power run game to Los Angeles, with a league-high 398 rushing attempts and the third-most rushing yards per game in the NFL (150.9).
  • "Up front, we've got to play physical, dig our cleats in the ground and get ready for a battle," Donald said.

"I don't know, I treat it like every other game. I just get prepared as best I can." – Goff

  • Goff historically has played well on Thursday Night Football in his NFL career. According to, he's completed 66.7 percent of his pass attempts for 1,287 yards with a 9-1 touchdown to interception ratio across four such games.
  • The most notable of those performances came in Week 4 of the 2018 season, when he threw for a then career-high 465 yards on 26 of 33 passing, with five touchdowns and a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3.

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