BACK TO WORK FOR THE RAMS **
And after taking several days to relax and rewind during their bye week, the players returned back to the field at Cal Lutheran on Monday afternoon.
The practice was a light, non-padded session that focused mainly on fundamentals. Head coach Sean McVay said after "being away for a couple days, the last thing we wanted to do was push it too much." He and the rest of his staff hoped that a lighter afternoon would leave less room for injuries.
"Get out here [and] get a good lather in," McVay said of his goals for Monday. "Get introduced to the Giants and then move around and work our calls, our communications, and different things like that."
In Week 9, Los Angeles will be on the road once again as it travels to face the Giants on Sunday afternoon. The Rams will begin their official preparation week for New York on Wednesday.
DUNBAR RETURNS TO PRACTICE
Running back Lance Dunbar participated in his first practice on Monday after rehabbing a knee injury through the first half of the season. The former North Texas standout signed with the Rams in free agency, but suffered a knee injury during the offseason program. Dunbar has been rehabbing ever since, and L.A. placed him on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp.
Dunbar was eligible to come off PUP at the onset of Week 7, but McVay elected to delay the process until after the team's bye week.
The running back said he "felt good" to be back on field, comparing his first day of practice to coming back for the first day of school.
"I was pretty excited and it felt great to do what I love to do, which is play football," he said. "It felt good just to get back there with everyone, with my teammates, just to play football again — it's been a while and I've been through a lot, so just to get back out there feeling good, it felt great."
Dealing with injury is nothing new for Dunbar. During the 2015 season in Dallas, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth game of the season — something he says has helped him to respond well in the face of adversity.
"It's the story of my life," Dunbar said. "It's not something I haven't been through. I've been through it a lot, so I have learned how to deal with it. I mean, it sucks, but I can only control what I can control — which is to get better."
Though the running back said he "absolutely" felt 100 percent during Monday's session, he was unsure of his ability to participate in game action as early as this week. Admittedly, Dunbar would like "some time to get adjusted to the game speed," saying he would be able to play, but "it wouldn't be in my best interest to go out there and not be fully ready."
But now that he is officially back and practicing with the team, there is a three-week window for McVay and the staff to decide whether to activate Dunbar.
"I think what's great about that timetable we have is it gives us a chance to evaluate him, see how he handles it," McVay said. "He's done a great job with his rehab and how the effects what we do on the roster is something that's going to be determined moving toward the latter half of the week."
Should the Rams choose to activate him, Dunbar is expected to be a multipurpose back, who can serve as both a passing and rushing threat. There's also a possibility Dunbar could contribute on special teams, as the running back said he had done some work with the unit on Monday.
But if you ask him, Dunbar said he is simply ready to provide the team with yet another playmaker to add to an already dynamic offense.
"Just a hardworking guy that can do whatever they need me to do," Dunbar said on what he can bring to the team. "Just catch the ball, run the ball, make plays and be a spark to this team."
"This offense, McVay can just insert you on any play," he continued. "The offense is designed to make big plays, so any running back that's in the game has had opportunities to make big plays. I just want to be a part of that."