Rams fans wondering what's in store for their team's offseason program – and moreover, what the offseason as a whole will look like – will already have somewhat of an idea based on last year.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell anticipates the 2021 offseason looking like what the league did last year.
"Virtual is going to be a part of our lives for the long-term," Goodell said during a news conference with reporters in Tampa Bay, Florida, last Thursday
In mid-January, it was reported via a memo issued to teams that the league effectively scrapped this year's NFL Scouting Combine due to the pandemic. It will not be held in Indianapolis; instead, on-field drills and workouts will be conducted at on-campus pro days – team personnel will be able to attend these to evaluate prospects – with interviews between prospects and teams to be conducted virtually, as well as the psychological testing.
Rams general manager Les Snead said it shouldn't affect their draft process too much, citing advancements in technology used for evaluations and being used to the virtual experience.
"Eventually, if you need to see a workout, right, you'll be able see that," Snead said during his end-of-season video conference on Jan. 26. "At the end of the day, they will do the traditional testing, so those numbers will be calculated, measured, recorded and shared. It's just (that) you might get it a little bit later than normal. You might get it in March instead of February, in terms of seeing a workout, maybe getting some timed speeds or short-shuttle speeds, vertical jumps, things like that."
As for what organized team activities might look like, that's still to be determined.
Goodell said teams learned they were very capable of installing offenses virtually, but at the same time, coaches feel strongly about the value of training camp and on-field practices, and value in preseason games where younger players are afforded opportunities to develop. Goodell acknowledged the veterans may not need that as much. He also said they will work with the NFLPA to balance those issues and expects to come up with feasible solutions.
When the Rams kicked off their virtual offseason program last year, head coach Sean McVay laid out a nine-week program with the first three weeks featuring 90-minute meetings four days a week, with special teams days later on in the offseason. He anticipated all nine weeks being done in that manner. The best case-scenario, according to McVay, was six weeks virtual and three weeks at facility, but ultimately the entire program was conducted virtually.
Coaches communicated with players to hold them accountable for offseason workouts, but did not monitor them because they trusted they would be responsible. Training camp practices began with an acclimation period in early August, and the Rams held two scrimmages at SoFi Stadium to make up for all preseason games being cancelled.