THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Rams head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford each held press conferences with local media Wednesday, discussing the latest on injured players, preparing for two games in five days, Stafford's performance over the course of the season.
On Thursday, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn and wide receiver Cooper Kupp each held press conferences with local media, discussing their takeaways from Week 14 against the Ravens and the impact of those on this week's preparation, the Commanders defense and offense, and more.
Here are some of the highlights and key takeaways from those conversations.
"I'm not sure (if Havenstein will play Sunday). He'll be day-to-day." – McVay
- Offensive lineman Rob Havenstein (groin) did not participate in Wednesday's practice and remains day-to-day.
- "I know he was ready to potentially come back in the game (against the Ravens) and he's making good progress, but we wanted to be smart with him today, and then we'll see what that looks like for tomorrow," McVay said.
"I'm always trying to improve. I'm trying to get better week to week." – Stafford
- Asked if he's felt improvement as the season as progressed, Stafford indicated it feels no different from the way he normally approaches each week.
- Stafford has throw 10 touchdowns against just 1 interception over the Rams' last three games.
"Anytime you can add pieces to the puzzle like that, it's always going to be good." – Donald
- The offseason signings of veteran defensive backs John Johnson III and Ahkello Witherspoon have paid big dividends, especially during a critical stretch of the season.
- "We got veteran guys that played this game, had success in this league and were able to help a lot of young guys that was in the back end and help the defense as far as understanding how to play this game," Donald said.
"You got to be open-minded for sure." – LaFleur
- With head coach Ron Rivera handling defensive playcalling duties for the Commanders since the team parted ways with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in late November, LaFleur indicated the Rams offense has to be prepared for the possibility of facing different concepts than what Washington had shown before.
- "You could go down a lot of different rabbit holes, but ultimately got to give our guys plays with answers so no matter what they do, hey, there is an answer within this," LaFleur said.
Y"ou see the early stages of what (Commanders assistant head coach/offensive coordinator) Eric (Bieniemy) is trying to create there with the vertical threat, the ability to create explosive plays, the ability to get the ball down the field and be really dangerous." – Morris
- Morris sees a Washington offense that is moving the ball really well with lots of talented players, including quarterback Sam Howell.
- Morris said the development of the early stages of Bienemy's offense in Washington reminds him of what he saw when he was on Washington's coaching staff going against the early days of Bienemy's time with the Kansas City Chiefs offense.
"There's always challenge when you have change and that's every position." – Blackburn
- Like any other position, it's next man up mentality with having a new long snapper in Carson Tinker after Alex Ward was placed on Injured Reserve.
- Blackburn said Wednesday was a big day for Tinker getting acclimated to operation procedures for "field goals, for punts, the cadences, block protections," and "all that stuff he did really well."
"He takes a lot on himself to take the load off of a lot of people and it's a pretty special thing for a quarterback the way he handles that." – Kupp
- Just as impactful as the highlight-worthy throws Stafford has made has been is command and leadership for the Rams' offense, especially taking on a lot of responsibility to make the rest of his teammates' jobs easier.
- "No one else is going to know that, but he's a big part of that for everyone," Kupp said.