Check out photos from practice as the Rams prepare to face the Cardinals in Week 13.
The Rams held their second practice of the week — a non-padded session — on Thursday afternoon. This week, L.A. will be on the road travelling to Arizona for a divisional matchup with the Cardinals.
Check below for the top three storylines from practice:
Once again, Los Angeles' injury report was relatively extensive, but there were a few improvements from Wednesday.
Running back Lance Dunbar (knee), cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, and wide receiver Josh Reynolds (ankle) returned to the field in full, while cornerback Kayvon Webster (ankle), running back Malcolm Brown (knee), and left tackle Andrew Whitworth (non-injury related) participated on a limited basis.
Linebacker Mark Barron and center John Sullivan were non-participants for the second consecutive session, although for non-injury related reasons. Tight end Tyler Higbee (illness) was also sidelined on Thursday.
Head coach Sean McVay said although Barron has missed the last two practices he should "be good to go for the game."
"He's had just some nicks and bruises and we just want to be smart with Mark, just kind of getting him through the week," McVay said. "He's felt good but just with the physical reps, we've kind of been smart managing him, but he'll be good to go."
Outside linebacker Connor Barwin (forearm) and wide receiver Robert Woods (shoulder) are expected to be out for the next couple of weeks as they continue to rehab their respective injuries. But McVay did say there's a possibility Woods could return to the field as early as next week.
"I think that would be a good situation. You'd say you're shooting for the Philly [game], but I think a more realistic target would be the Seattle game," McVay said. "So a couple weeks from now is probably what's the most realistic approach. But, you never know with Robert."
In Arizona, running back Adrian Peterson (neck) did not participate in practice for the second day in a row. Peterson has played a significant role in the Cardinals' offense since he was traded from New Orleans earlier this season. If he is unable to play on Sunday, it would be a large blow to Arizona's ground attack.
FOR SECONDARY, FOCUS REMAINS ON TURNOVERS
Under coordinator Wade Phillips, the Rams' defense has developed into an aggressive unit with the ability to both bring pressure up front and make plays on the ball in the secondary.
But the group that was leading the league in takeaways (19) entering Week 11, hasn't recorded any in the past two weeks.
"It's been a minute," middle linebacker Alec Ogletree. "That's what we want to do every week is create turnovers — whether that's a pick, fumble, whatever have you. [So] definitely this week there is a lot more emphasis on it."
In last Sunday's contest against the Saints, the secondary missed several opportunities to create takeaways, dropping the ball on at least three different occasions.
Fortunately for the Rams, the lack of turnovers wasn't a factor in last week's victory. But prior to Week 12, the club was 7-0 when tied or ahead of the turnover margin and 0-3 when behind.
"I think when we're at our best we are creating turnovers," Ogletree said. "So, it's definitely a big factor for us."
This week, the defense will face Cardinals' quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who has thrown three interceptions in the past two games. As such, the group is hungry to make plays on the ball early on.
"Absolutely," strong safety John Johnson III said. "We had a streak of games where we had interceptions in every game and in the last two games we haven't. So we're definitely itching, we need at least one, but we're shooting for more."
"Those things will come," Phillips added. "We're very aggressive on defense – we've gotten our hands on it, we just didn't grab it, but it will come."
MY CAUSE, MY CLEATS
At the end of every practice report this week, theRams.com will highlight one Rams player participating in the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats campaign. The initiative is the culmination of collaborative work between the NFL and players across the league — allowing them to showcase personal causes on field in Week 13.
One of the 28 Rams participating in Sunday's campaign is left guard Rodger Saffold.
This Sunday, Saffold will be playing on behalf of the Children's Miracle Network's Extra Life Fundraiser. The organization unites thousands of players around the world in a 24-hour fundraising and gaming marathon, aimed at raising money to support Children's Miracle Network hospitals.
Saffold — the proud co-founder of the professional Call of Duty team, Rise Nation— said he chose the Extra Life charity because it "was the perfect way to bridge the gap between what I do off the field and the NFL side."
This will mark the second consecutive year that Saffold has participated in the My Cause, My Cleats initiative. He said he loves the idea of being able to "use your pedestal to produce some good."
"At the end of the day we're entertainers, so what you do off the field to try to make the world a better place, you should definitely do," Saffold said. "And this is a great opportunity for everyone to do so."
Plus, Saffold says, "it's definitely just as much fun as it is a great cause," making things a little bit brighter for NFL players who are subject to a long and tedious season.
"It's always about those little victories that you get throughout the season," he said. "Whatever we can do to have a little bit more fun is great."