The Rams' Week 1 matchup with the Colts is almost here. With just three days until the season opener, the team held a non-padded practice at Cal Lutheran on Wednesday. Head coach Sean McVay said after the session that the team had "a good start" to their game week and came into the afternoon's practice with "great energy and enthusiasm."
INJURY REPORT COMES BACK CLEAN
Throughout the preseason many of the Rams' projected starters have been in and out of practice and game action due to what McVay often referred to as the team's "maintenance program."
As of Wednesday, it seems the program has paid off. When Los Angeles released its first injury report ahead of the opener, there were no names listed. The Colts, however, will be without three of their starters including quarterback Andrew Luck, center Ryan Kelly, and cornerback Vontae Davis.
Though veteran players like cornerback Kayvon Webster, outside linebacker Robert Quinn, and linebacker Mark Barron did not play during the preseason, all are expected to play on Sunday.
Check out photos from the Los Angeles Rams practice in preparation for Week 1.
"Fortunately for us no injuries to report," McVay said Wednesday. "That was kind of the goal going into this, being as healthy as we could going into our first game. We've got a lot of guys back that have not played on the defensive side, [but] they were flying around [today.]"
GOFF DISCUSSES SECOND SEASON
When the Rams opened up their season just one year ago, quarterback Jared Goff stood on the sidelines in street clothes, inactive for the team's road contest against the 49ers.
This year will be a very different story for the former No. 1 overall pick. Coming into this weekend's game against the Colts, Goff will take the field as the starting quarterback and leader of the offense, something he expressed his excitement over on Wednesday.
"I feel good, I feel confident," he said. "Just compared to last year, getting all the reps in the offseason has been huge, understanding what we're trying to do and I think just understanding so much more about the game, about what everyone's doing on field."
While the team as a whole has struggled offensively in the past — ranking No. 32 the last two years — under McVay and the rest of his staff, Goff and company have shown significant improvement. Now, the team is excited to show off its progress, beginning with Sunday's game at home.
"We've really improved, everywhere, not only offensively but defensively, special teams. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say we feel really good with where we're at," Goff said.
"I think we are very confident in our team as a whole, in our offense. And I think with Jared leading the way, we feel good about it," McVay said. It's going to be about making good decisions, distributing the ball to the playmakers that we do have...As long as we just take it one play at a time, and throw with accuracy, timing and rhythm. If he does that I think that will give him a chance to play good football for us."
TANZEL SMART STEPS IN AS A STARTER
With defensive tackle Aaron Donald absent as the team and his representation continue to negotiate a contract extension, rookie Tanzel Smart appears likely to take Donald's place as a starter for Week 1. Smart was listed as the No. 1 defensive tackle on the Rams' unofficial depth chart, released Tuesday. That would place Smart alongside nose tackle Michael Brockers and defensive tackle Ethan Westbrooks.
Smart has showcased a lot of promise throughout his short time as a Ram, joining the team as a sixth-round pick in early May. During his college career at Tulane, Smart was known as a disciplined player with good positioning and durability.
And while he may not be the tallest athlete on the defensive line — listed at just 6-foot-1 — McVay said Smart makes up for it with his knowledge of the game and commitment to daily improvement.
"I think Tanzel is one of those players that is a natural fit for anything because all he does is exactly what you want him to do and he continues to get better," McVay said. "...I think he is one of the more conscientious players that we do have. You say, 'hey there's Smart again showing up, doing exactly what he's supposed to do, making a play, effecting the offense.'"
"Everybody wants to probably make a point of, 'Oh, he's short,' but he seems to be a guy that tips the balls as much as anybody and you feel him as an offensive coach. Especially in Aaron's absence...It's been a huge chance for him to step up and that's exactly what he's done."