THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Joint practices and preseason games are helpful preparation for the regular season, but don't replicate the environment of a full stadium on a regular season gameday.
Just ask Rams rookie nose tackle Kobie Turner.
"In some of those joint practices, you definitely don't have the stadium bumping like it was over there," a smiling Turner told theRams.com, referring to the environment at Lumen Field in Seattle last Sunday. "So that was a little bit different."
It was a slight adjustment, but one that Turner handled well. In that loud environment, he had two total tackles and half of a sack (split with fellow rookie Byron Young) in a promising NFL debut.
What helped Turner the most in his first regular season game was the biggest understanding gained from those practices – which was, in his words, to "earn the right to rush the passer."
In joint practices, for example, the defense may have a second to get back on track during a second-and-long or third-and-long period. But in a live game, they have to earn the right.
"And so you got to play the run really, really well, and then by that time, you might be a little gassed on that third down, but you still got to go out there and get a big win to get the defense off the field," Turner said.
In the eyes of defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Turner and rookie teammate Byron Young provided the necessary energy their unit needed in Week 1. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald thought both played well, while also acknowledging the defense always opportunity for growth.
"I think those guys played good," Donald said. "I think they were productive at times, but again, we always got room for improvement. But it definitely was a good first game overall as a defense, finding ways to put pressure on them, guys flying around, making plays when they needed to in the secondary and we found a way to win that game so we got to keep it going."
The season-opener was a tale of two halves for Los Angeles' defense, but whatever ailed it in the first half was seemingly addressed in the second, as they allowed just 12 net yards in the second half. Similar poise will be needed this Sunday against a 49ers offense that was 6 of 13 on third down and produced 391 total yards.
In that vein, Turner's other takeaway from his first NFL regular season game of taking the highs and the lows and ensuing resilience will be applicable.
"There's a couple of ways that I would have wanted back, or plays that I could have done some different things," Turner said. "But (head) coach (Sean) McVay talks about it all the time, having that mental toughness to be able to move on to that next snap. And even the snap where I got a sack, I didn't think I had the best technique, I would go back and change that if I could, but the result was good. But it's ultimately about going back, watching over the film, and figuring out how I can change that process so that my process will lead me to the right result. So I think it was a lot to learn from, it was a good experience, good first time getting out there, and just continuing to refine my process. Now I have an understanding of what an NFL game is like, and getting ready to bring it on Sunday."