Check out photos of the Los Angeles Rams practice as the team prepares to take on the Minnesota Vikings.
The Rams held their second practice of the week on Thursday afternoon, ahead of the team's Week 11 matchup with the Vikings. Los Angeles will hold one more session at Cal Lutheran on Friday before flying to the midwest this weekend.
Here are a few notes from Thursday.
Los Angeles once again had quite a few players listed on its official injury report, but there were some improvements from Wednesday.
Left guard Rodger Saffold (ankle) was back to full participation, as was outside linebacker Robert Quinn (illness). Several other players who did not participate in Wednesday's session were back on field for limited reps, including cornerback Troy Hill (hamstring) and outside linebacker Matt Longacre (back).
Linebacker Mark Barron and center John Sullivan were non-participants, while left tackle Andrew Whitworth was limited in the session for non-injury related reasons. Head coach Sean McVay said both Barron and Sullivan are expected to play on Sunday, but were given another rest day in an effort to keep them healthy come game time.
Outside linebacker Connor Barwin (knee), running back Malcolm Brown (knee), tight end Derek Carrier (hamstring) and free safety Lamarcus Joyner (hip) did not participate for the second consecutive practice.
FOR RAMS, "STAYING TOGETHER" IS A KEY TO SUCCESS
At 7-2, the Rams are off to their best start in over a decade and are currently on a four-game winning streak.
While some outside the building are quick to credit the new coaching staff and additional playmakers for the team's success, when you ask many of those players on the roster, you'll hear a different story.
"We're playing for each other every day," wide receiver Robert Woods said. "I think we come here and we're excited to practice. We're motivating each other and I think that makes it a whole lot easier to play on Sunday's."
Woods is one of several players who pointed to the team's camaraderie and chemistry as primary catalysts for its success. And although winning has helped the club's mood both on and off the field, Woods said that the players' genuine friendship behind the scenes is what has made it easier to buy into McVay's message and truly play for each other.
"For me joining this team in my first year, it feels like I know everybody pretty well," Woods said. "We all have a relationship with our teammates, whether that's on the field, in the cafeteria, in meeting rooms, or off the field. You see that with this team and I think we play really, really well together just because of how we communicate off the field."
Right guard Jamon Brown went one step further, comparing the Rams locker room to "a college locker room feel," one that is centered on two things: working hard and having fun.
"We're playing football which is the ultimate team sport, so you have to have camaraderie," Brown said. "You have to love lining up with the guys that you're lining up with and I think we have that this year. So our thing is as long we stay together, we'll be where we want to be."
"You have to be able to jell together because you see each other every day and so they are basically like your family and we treat it like that," middle linebacker Alec Ogletree echoed. "Everybody loves to come here and work and have fun while we're doing it, but also get the work done that we need to get done and just enjoy
Check out photos of the Rams taking on the Vikings throughout the years.
playing the game."
THE USC/UCLA RIVALRY CONTINUES
The USC vs. UCLA rivalry is one of the greatest and most well-known in college football. The two cross-town rivals first met in 1929 and will face off for the 85th time in series history on Saturday.
Here on the Rams, there are three players in particular who know this rivalry better than most, having played in it just a few years ago — Woods, cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, and running back Justin Davis.
And though it has been a while since Woods and Robey-Coleman first suited up in cardinal and gold, the bitter rivalry between the Bruins and the Trojans is still fresh in their minds.
"It's about owning L.A., pretty much keeping the city ours," said Woods, a former USC All-American.
"It meant a lot — it meant everything to me," Robey-Coleman added. "It was more important than anything on the schedule."
Woods and Robey-Coleman played together as Trojans for three seasons, from 2010-2012. On Sunday, they will face former rivals in Vikings' defensive end Anthony Barr and linebacker Eric Kendricks. Both Barr and Kendricks were a part of the 2012 UCLA football team that defeated the Trojans 38-28, leaving Woods and Robey-Coleman with a loss in their last regular season contest at USC.
And although all four have since prospered in the NFL, Robey-Coleman says playing against former UCLA players takes him right back to college — giving him and Woods even more incentive to compete at the highest level.
"Definitely, even though there aren't that many of them in the league," he said jokingly. "I give them some respect, but when it comes to competing in the game on Sunday, I definitely want to be better than them."
But that won't be an easy task this week, especially for Woods who will be lining up across from a top-ranked Vikings defense. Woods said he remembers both Barr and Kendricks well, characterizing them as "great players in college" who have since "excelled in their careers."
"I remember Anthony Barr even from before college," Woods said. "[He was] a running back at Loyola, a huge running back. Made the move to D-end and it's kind of been a power move for him and then Eric Kendricks [is] flying around — a fast linebacker who can make plays. But overall, just great players."
Still, Woods is up for the challenge.
"We just have to be ready for the noise and for them making plays — just to have a focused game, not worry what they're doing, play our game, and finish with a win."
Score Predictions for Saturday's USC vs. UCLA game:
Woods: 50-0 — "I need another 50 to nothing game. I need that."
Robey-Coleman: 45-10 — "I feel like Sam will have a good game. And it's the fight for L.A. so we're going to crank it up."
Davis: 56-14 — "I'll give them a little bit more than 10."