The Rams began preparations for their preseason finale with a competitive, non-padded session on Monday afternoon. With the team's fourth exhibition matchup against the Packers just a few days away and roster cuts looming on Saturday, this week will be the last chance for many players to crack the 53-man roster.
Wide receiver Tavon Austin made his return to the practice field on Monday. After being sidelined for most of the Rams' offseason workouts with a wrist injury, the fifth-year receiver has been sidelined for the majority of the preseason due to a nagging hamstring issue.
While Austin will still sit out Thursday night, he is expected to practice with the team over the next couple of weeks and should be ready for the regular season opener on Sept. 10.
After practice on Monday, head coach Sean McVay said Austin participated in the majority of the team's individual drills and has continued to be a positive presence on the offense despite his injury.
"He feels good," McVay said. "In terms of letting him go full-speed where he's getting into some of those competitive periods, that might be something that we discuss about doing tomorrow with him. But, he's in a good place right now and we feel like if we continue to take those steps, he'll be in great shape to be ready to roll for that Indy game."
ON TO GREEN BAY
While in years past, the NFL mandated teams cut down their roster to 75 men following the third exhibition game, this year, team's were allowed to carry a 90-man roster all the way through the preseason. This means that come Saturday afternoon, the Rams' will have to cut almost half of their active roster down to 53.
But before the big cut this weekend, the team still has one more game to prepare for. The Rams will travel to Green Bay to face the Packers on Thursday night.
On Monday, McVay reiterated the first-team offense and defense would not participate in the preseason finale, making way for a number of other players to participate.
"We've made the decision that we were going to get a chance to evaluate the guys that we're not projecting as starters and get them an opportunity to compete against Green Bay," McVay said after practice.
"Right now, especially on offense and defense and some of those key guys that we're trying to continue and figure out on special teams, it's going to be a great opportunity to evaluate some of those guys that fill will in those depth positions," he added.
DICKERSON TO RETIRE AS A RAM
On Monday it was announced former Pro Football Hall of Fame and former Rams' running back Eric Dickerson would sign a one-day contract, effective tomorrow, to continue his retirement as a member of the organization.
"It feels amazing to sign this contract and officially be a Los Angeles Ram for life," Dickerson said. "My passion for this organization during my playing days and for the players wearing Rams jerseys now, is undeniable. This is where my career started and this is where my heart is, so closing this chapter with the Rams back in Los Angeles feels right."
During his time with the Rams, Dickerson broke the NFL rookie record for most yards gained in a season with 1,808 and the league single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards in his second year on the team.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins is one of the projected starters that will be held out of Thursday's game. Though he is still relatively new to the Rams' offense after being acquired from the Bills a few weeks ago, Watkins has steadily improved in his understanding of the playbook and has participated in the preseason contests against the Raiders and Chargers.
After practice on Monday Watkins addressed the media to discuss his transition to the Rams so far and his outlook moving forward. Catch up on his most interesting points below.
On how things have progressed throughout the preseason: Great. I am finally starting to play fast, enjoy and compete...I mean every receiver wants the ball. But at the same time, I'm really just pressing, trying to do everything right and get the plays down and get in shape. But the preseason is just for you to learn the plays and get comfortable with the guys, but like I said during the season it will be different, you'll be calling different plays, getting different looks and watching film on the defenders.